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WHAT BETTER TIME TO FISH?

Fishing is still on the table providing you do it right.
By Fred Golofaro  |  March 24, 2020
WHAT BETTER TIME TO FISH?
Even when outdoors, it is important to practice social distancing.

While there is no downplaying the seriousness of COVID-19, and the message to STAY HOME is being blasted across every media outlet, there is some comfort in knowing that the one thing we can do, as long as we do it right, is fish. Doing it right is the key. That means fishing alone from the shore or in your own boat, or with those you are confined at home with. It means avoiding conversations with other anglers and strictly adhering to the 10-foot code of social distancing. It means no walking into the local deli to buy lunch, or if you feel you need bait and find a tackle shop that is open, order it by phone and pick it up outside the door. The other option is to dig your own worms. I picked up a few nightcrawlers on my driveway during Monday’s rain so they are ripe for picking. If you need gas, pay by credit card at the pump and avoid having to go inside and paying with cash. If you need that cup of Joe, bring it from home. Do all of those things and you will be keeping yourself, and those around you safe, and there will be no reason to feel guilty about partaking in one of life’s great pleasures.

In fact, outdoor activity is being encouraged by state agencies such as State Parks and the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), as well as some government officials. Governor Andrew Cuomo has waived entrance fees at all state parks and DEC has maintained its spring trout stocking schedule. A recent bulletin from NYDEC titled NEW YORK’S OUTDOORS ARE OPEN included the following: During the current COVID-19 public health crisis, getting outdoors and connecting with nature is a way to help maintain our mental and physical health. Scientific studies show that time outside in nature significantly reduces stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, improves mood, energy, and sleep, and boosts the immune system.

Another press release published on March 24 promoting the April 1 opening of trout season (most Long Island trout waters are open all year) and their trout stocking program included the following: While enjoying the outdoors, please continue to follow the CDC/New York State Department of Health guidelines for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19. When fishing, DEC recommends avoiding busy waters and following the guidelines on DEC’s website about fishing responsibly in New York State. If an angler arrives at a parking lot and there are several cars, they should consider going to another parking lot. If an angler is fishing upstream, they should fish downstream of the other angler or consider fishing another day. Anglers fishing from boats should be able to maintain at least six feet of distance between one another. For more information about the benefits of being outdoors safely and responsibly, go to DEC’s website.

A COVID-19 Update from State Parks read: New York state parks, trails and grounds of historic sites are open for open air outdoor recreation. Governor Cuomo is urging all New Yorkers to stay home as much as possible. If you do plan on visiting, it should be for a healthy nature break. For the safety of all visitors and to stop the spread of COVID-19, all State Park playgrounds, athletic courts and sporting fields are CLOSED. Please limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact, and avoid activities where you may come in close contact with other people. If you arrive at a park and crowds are forming, choose a different park or trail, or return another time/day to visit. We appreciate your support and patience as we navigate this public health crisis together. Learn more about COVID-19 and its impact on NY State Parks. Visit: COVID-19 UPDATE

And then there was President Trump’s son, Donald Jr. who posted this on Instagram: “If you have to self-isolate and practice social distancing with only close friends and family, you might as well go fishing. Get your kids and take them to your local pond, river, lake or ocean. Seems like a perfect time to get outdoors and away from everyone else. If you are looking to do something to pass the time, fishing is as good an experience I can think of for family time.”

In short, there is no reason not to go fishing providing you follow the guidelines detailed above. Currently options are limited but you don’t have to catch fish to justify going fishing. Just being able to get outdoors and cast a line should be therapeutic enough given the current state of affairs. Trout fishing in a nearby lake or pond is a good option. You might try for some herring or hit the beach or shoreline in places like Jamaica Bay, Little Neck Bay, Jones Beach, Robert Moses, Quogue Canal or the Peconic River for some early striper action. Come April 1, the options expand as flounder and blackfish seasons open in New York. There is optimism that this spring’s blackfish season will be a productive one given the quality of the fishing last fall. So shed any feelings of guilt and get out and spend some time outdoors. And if you have kids, be sure to bring them along.