COVID-19 Catches: Social distancing doesn’t stop Great Lakes fishing

There are no plans to close boat launches in state parks, according to Raechelle Belli, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources public affairs manager. And while she said Gov. Tony Evers has ordered closures for many state businesses and activities, like Ohio and Michigan, fishing is not one of them.

“As long as people practice social distancing, which is what our news release said on Saturday,” she said. “Currently all of our state park facilities, like visitors centers and other buildings, are closed, except for some restrooms.”

Belli said she couldn’t say exactly which, if any, boat ramps or parks did not have bathrooms open. And as far as bait and tackle shops being considered essential businesses, she declined to speculate.

“I do know a lot of convenience stores are open because they sell groceries,” she said.

According to Sarah Wickham, Ohio Department of Natural Resources[1] chief of communications, the state’s parks and boat ramps should remain open throughout the region’s closures, so long as people can utilize them and remain safe.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and will make any changes that conditions warrant,” she said. “Fishing on boats would be considered an outdoor activity as long as it otherwise complies with social distancing guidance.”

Wickham said wildlife and parks and watercraft officers are still on duty and patrolling the same areas they always have, including responding to calls and enforcing laws.

“But they are practicing social distancing, so they won’t be going to club meetings, events or routinely checking fishing licenses or otherwise approaching individuals in non-emergency situations,” she said.

Likewise, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation[2] officials say it’s still a great idea to go fishing.

“Anglers can continue to fish throughout New York state, including Lake Erie,” said TJ Pignataro, NYSDEC spokesman. “Get some fresh air and recreate locally to the fullest extent possible.”

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