Dakota Farmer

If you can reach out with your fishing pole and touch another person, you’re too close.

Lon Tonneson, Editor, Dakota Farmer

April 13, 2020

2 Min Read
Two men on a boat fishing on a lake
TOO CLOSE? Two anglers share a boat on a lake near Arlington, S.D. For many fishing enthusiasts, there’s not enough space on their boats to practice safe social distancingLon Tonneson

I am going to need a bigger fishing boat.

North Dakota Game and Fish Department recently warned that anglers need to practice social distancing when shore fishing to minimize the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus.

A good rule of thumb is that if you can reach out with a fishing rod and touch the person fishing next to you, you’re too close, according to a statement from Terry Steinwand, Game and Fish director.

“In other situations, we urge people to follow the 6-foot separation guideline as well,” he said.

The whole idea of having to tell people to maintain “social distance” seems odd to me. Maybe it’s because I live on an acreage and my nearest neighbor is about a mile away, anyway. Also, I’m Norwegian and even shaking hands with a stranger seems a little too familiar. I’m an introvert, too, and enjoy nothing more than going for a walk or fishing — alone.

Nevertheless, Steinwand said Game and Fish officers are going keep an eye on popular shore-fishing areas.

“We’ll be monitoring, and if it appears that the recommendations are not being followed, we might have to consider closing access to those high traffic areas because of the risk involved,” he said.

I wonder what Game and Fish will do when it’s time to put boats in the water? Will the recommendation be to only have two people in the boat — one in the bow and another stern? In my boat, that might not be 6-feet.

Early in the pandemic, I thought that if I caught COVID-19 after a day of fishing it would still be a good day. But after reading some firsthand accounts of what it is like for some to fight the infection, I’m not so sure. It was perhaps false bravado on my part.

While Game and Fish has issued a fishing warning, at least the Department of Agriculture hasn’t reminded farmers not to let friends, neighbors and farm magazine editors ride in the tractor buddy seat this year. Unfortunately, that’s probably coming.

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