This is a difficult time for all of us, but at least here in Montana, we are fortunate that we can still get out on the water for an escape. While many are choosing to fish alone for their own sanity and solace, there is no question that camaraderie on the river is important for many anglers. Fishing safely together with the reality of COVID-19 means that we need to be a little extra careful. We thought this would be a good time to encourage everyone to abide by some simple rules to make sure you stay safe, and you also keep fly shop employees, fishing guides, shuttle drivers, and our families healthy. A big thank you to Jake Walbridge at Montana Troutfitters and Mike Bias at FOAM for their help in compiling these tips. Stay safe out there and fish on!
- Make a plan for the day’s fishing to minimize time spent together in enclosed vehicles and other spaces.
- Didn’t stock up on disinfectant wipes? Mist 10 paper towels with a bleach solution and keep them in a jar in your vehicle for wiping down handles, steering wheel, gas pumps, etc.
- Make sure each angler in your group is equipped with disinfecting wipes and/or hand sanitizer. Guides should strongly encourage their clients to do the same.
- Use disinfecting wipes regularly and often on all surfaces in the boat, vehicle, and gear. A good rule is at least once before you go out and once you get off the water.
- Meet your fishing buddies or clients at the ramp or your fishing spot to limit time in enclosed vehicles.
- For guided float trips, encourage clients to have their vehicle shuttled as well. Private groups, consider having both vehicles shuttled, too.
- To minimize exposure from close proximity in boats, think about doing a walk/wade trip or limit boat occupants to two anglers only.
- Bring your own gear and avoid sharing supplies between members of your party. Make sure you have your own flies, leaders, tippet, and floatant.
- In colder weather, cover up as best as possible. Wearing a neck gaiter, gloves, and hat will go a long way to minimize skin-to-skin contact or skin-on-gear contact.
- COVID-19 is spread through aerosolized or air borne exposure. Be conscious of wind direction especially if you have to cough or sneeze. Remember to use your sleeve to cover your mouth and nose when doing so.
- Lubricate knots using the river water or knot lube and avoid licking leaders at this time.
- Bring your own water bottle, drinks, and food. Don’t share lunches or drinks.
- If you are feeling sick, tired, or worn down in any way, stay at home and rest. If your symptoms get worse, contact your health care provider.
Your local fishing spot is a great place to get away from the stress we’re all feeling right now. By following some simple guidelines, we can relax and have a little fun, while keeping our fishing friends happy, healthy, and safe. Tight lines from Montana Trout Unlimited.