As thousands of Minnesotans prepare to take the lakes for Saturday's fishing opener, the Minnesota DNR has released guidelines for how to fish while maintaining social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There has been a huge rise in the number of fishing licenses being bought because, well, there are fewer recreational pursuits available during the Stay at Home order.
With big numbers expected to take to the lakes and cast their lines for walleye, bass and northerns, the DNR has some advice that anglers should be aware of before heading out.
The big one? Staying close–ish to home. A key tenet of the social distancing guidelines is that people don't venture too far afield, particularly to areas where there are fewer healthcare resources.
"We need for Minnesotans to fish close to home,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. "This is not the time to travel long distances to fish since travel can spread the COVID-19 virus, particularly to rural communities that may have more virus-vulnerable populations."
Don't know what "close to home" means? This is what the DNR suggest to use as the criteria:
- No overnight stays.
- Bring all needed supplies with you.
- Only go as far as you can travel and return on a single tank of gas or single charge for EV drivers.
The DNR is advising people to limit their trips to grocery stores and gas stations in rural areas, given that it increases the potential of transmission to local residents who use the same services.
The fishing guidelines come in addition to the boating season guidelines, which state you should only boat with those in your household, and keep six foot distance from other boats at all times.
You should also give those ahead of you plenty of time to launch or load their boat before approaching, and be prepared for water access sites to be different this year, with DNR-managed accesses now having had any spring maintenance, while courtesy docks won't be in place in some locations.
The DNR is also advising people to buy their fishing licenses online to avoid crowding at license agents. You can do that here.