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What has really been encouraging are the number of new people who turned to fishing for something to do.

By Fred Golofaro  |  May 26, 2020
Porgies make a great target for kids and families, and there should be a number of open boats targeting them beginning this week.

The coronavirus pandemic has certainly changed life as we know it, and for most people those changes have not been good. The obvious health concerns and nearly 100,000 deaths nationwide, millions of Americans out of work, many people struggling to put food on the table, and the thousands of businesses struggling to survive paint a pretty grim picture.

It’s obviously a struggle to find some good amongst all the gloom but it is out there. It is in the efforts of all those essential workers who kept food and services flowing, and all of the first responders, doctors, nurses and hospital staff. It is in all of the people who volunteered their help where needed and all of those who have donated to help those most impacted by the pandemic.

The events of the past few months have also brought families closer together. Prior to the pandemic, many families were too busy to share quality time due to work, school, social commitments, sports and other outside activities. Now they are finding time to talk to each other, go for walks, take bike rides together, and go fishing. I’m seeing more dads and moms with their kids on docks, piers and ponds. Thankfully, fishing has been one of the few outdoor activities that remained accessible to us as state, county and some towns kept parks, marinas and boat ramps open. Some towns stubbornly kept these areas closed rather than enforce social distancing and limiting parking capacity, depriving residents of healthy and much needed outdoor recreation on a local level. Never did quite understand that but it looks like we are past it now.

What has really been encouraging are the number of new people who turned to fishing for something to do as they suddenly found themselves with lots of free time on their hands. I’ve been getting inquiries from people who never or hardly fished before asking what they need and where can they fish. Several tackle shop owners, including Bob Rose at Bob’s Bait & Tackle in Amity Harbor, Bill Witchey at Comb’s Bait & Tackle in Amityville and John Mantione at J&J Sports in Patchogue have commented on the number of new faces they are seeing during the course of conducting curbside business. Those of us who do fish, are well aware of the social and mental health benefits that fishing can provide so it is encouraging to see new people getting involved. The more people who fish, the louder our voice when it comes to access issues and having a say in fisheries management.

Fortunately for these families and newbies, there are fish to catch. Blowfish have established themselves at many docks and piers in bays and harbors around the Island. They are easy to catch and what kid isn’t fascinated by watching a northern puffer blow itself up into a ball? Even the lowly sea robin can satisfy those looking to bend a rod, and both species make for some good eating. Fluke, porgies, kingfish, striped bass and bluefish are all options at some piers and docks, as well as on South and North shore beaches.

Beginning this week, these newcomers, along with many established anglers, will be able to take advantage of the opportunities provided by open and charter boats for the first time this season. They have been included in Long Island’s Phase One reopening and they should draw plenty of attention from fish starved patrons.