Really, hasn’t this gone on long enough?
According to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order “individuals may leave their home or place of residence, and travel as necessary, to engage in outdoor activity, including walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity consistent with remaining at least 6 feet from people outside an individual’s household. Visitors should not travel long distances, unless it is for a purpose considered critical. Nonessential travel could unintentionally increase the spread of COVID-19.”
You can go fishing alone, from a river bank, (take a 6-foot rod to measure your social distance accurately) but you can’t go out with one or two other anglers on a charter or guided drift. You can paddle your kayak, but keep your motorboat tied up at the dock. No, you can’t drive up north to your cottage to go fishing, or just relax. But yes, you need a new fishing license as of April 1.
Writing in the Toledo Blade, Matt Markey described a growing pushback on the angling restrictions:
The governor’s dictum seemed akin to putting most of the state’s more than 800,000 fishermen in solitary confinement, based on the actions of a few miscreants. She used a scattergun and took out a flotilla of law-abiding, quarantine-abiding, social-distancing abiding and sensible anglers, with the hope she just might nail a few violators, and look good in the process.
Michigan was already policing the boat ramps along the lake and those on the Detroit River, and people fishing from the same boat had to provide identification that showed they were from the same household, or face a stiff fine. That made sense, so husbands and wives, fathers and sons, moms and daughters, or solo anglers could still get out on the water, shake off the neurosis that “stuck inside these four walls” can generate, and maintain the safety guidelines associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
It is possible to have the boat launches along the lake and the river be utilized by many, but also have those fishermen practice patience and safe spacing while at the docks. The majority have done just that — they don’t want to get sick, or bring the virus home to their families.
And yes we understand the gravity of the coronavirus threat. But why not trust people to act like adults rather than treating everyone like they’re a suspected knucklehead?
Things aren’t quite as bad here as they are in California, yet.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A teleconference with California regulators to discuss a potential limited ban on freshwater sportfishing amid the coronavirus pandemic was abruptly canceled Thursday after it descended into chaos, with some of those who called in branding officials as “fascists” and shouting “make fishing great again.”
The Fish and Game Commission meeting was aimed at deciding whether to give emergency powers to Charlton Bonham, the governor’s appointee overseeing the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Sacramento Bee reported.
If the powers are granted, Bonham could limit fishing in some California rivers, streams and lakes at the request of local officials concerned that visiting recreational fishing enthusiasts might spread the virus.
You’d think there would some reasonable accommodation, some golden mean, between a concern for public health at this critical time and just letting people continue with their lives responsibly.
Vermont seems to have struck a balance. Fishing is allowed and boat ramps are open, although out of staters are discouraged from visiting. State officials have added a list of precautions, which are basically common sense. But the benefits of fishing have not been lost on the Vermont governor.
The most recent amendment to Governor Scott’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order continues to exempt outdoor recreational activities, including fishing, for health and exercise. Yes – you can go outside and go fishing. It’s a healthy outdoor activity – good for your mind, body, and soul. After all, we need a reprieve from the stresses we’ve all been under, and fishing is a proven stress-reliever.
So, for now, let’s observe the executive orders, the laws of the state, and do our part to contain this potent coronavirus. And let’s also look forward to getting back on the Mighty Muskegon and doing all the outdoors activities we love. Sooner rather than later.