Fishing and Boating During COVID-19: What to Expect

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way we are living. There are restrictions everywhere, with restaurants, schools, and nonessential businesses closed; most states have stay-at-home orders in place, too. Does that mean that you’re not allowed to get out on the water and enjoy some fishing or boating? In these particularly stressful times, it would seem that time in nature, on the water, is more important than ever. The good news is that fishing and boating are still activities you can enjoy! Though there are some extra safety precautions that you need to take.

Check Guidelines
Before you get too excited about going fishing or boating, check with your state’s US Department of Fish and Wildlife or Department of Environmental Management. Their websites should give you current information. Counties also have information online and by phone, and it’s a good idea to look there too. You want to be sure you can launch your boat before you leave home.

Go Local
Our country has amazing waterways, and chances are, you live near to a river, lake, or seashore. In this time of COVID-19, keep your boating and fishing excursions close to home. Check with your state’s Department of Natural Resources or Department of Environmental Management to see what boat launches are open, and abide by the information given. These sites are generally updated daily. Even states with stay-at-home orders in place allow you to leave your home for exercise and time in nature; if you are traveling to your local waterway to enjoy some fishing or boating, you’re getting your daily dose of nature. It is also advised that you pack your gear and supplies and go directly to the water.

Household Members Only
The people in your boat must be the same people that are in your house. No guests, no exceptions. You can’t include your adult son who lives on his own. You can, however, choose to go fishing without your spouse and children who share your home.

Maintain Social Distancing

On Land
Fortunately, if you’re fishing, you don’t need to guess how long six feet actually is; you have a fishing pole! Just keep everyone a fishing pole away and you’ll be practicing perfect social distancing. Seriously, it’s important to remember to keep far apart at the marina, on piers or docks, and when you’re fueling your boat. Docks and piers are especially problematic because they’re so narrow. You may find yourself in a situation where you are one of several people on or near a dock. Just communicate. If everyone has a clear understanding, you’ll be able to figure out a way to maintain a safe distance from each other. When touching surfaces (like a fuel pump or marine gate), be sure to wash your hands thoroughly or use sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol afterwards.

On Water
During this time of COVID-19, you are not allowed to raft up with other boats. You can shout greetings to one another, but you cannot come into contact. Likewise, you cannot pull your boat up to a beach close beside another boat. If there is room to pull up to the beach without getting too close to another boat, you may do so. But remember that you must maintain social distancing with the other people once you are out of the boat as well.

Sharing Is NOT Caring
Many places are not allowing boat rentals, and even if they are available, it would not be wise to rent a boat. Use your own boat and your own boating and fishing equipment. Now is not the time to borrow that fancy fly from your fishing buddy (even if he leaves it outside his garage for you). It’s the time to use the ones in your tackle box, or learn to tie a new one of your own.

Being on the water is one of the best ways to relax and enjoy nature. During this unprecedented pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we have the opportunity to fish and boat. Thankfully, that’s still open to us.