6 tips for responsible recreation

As a company that takes pride in enjoying the outdoors and our fishing resources, we feel for the communities currently at home doing their part to slow the spread of COVID-19. AFTCO has taken our own steps to help flatten the curve — see here to learn more.

We understand that many of you will be using this time to go fishing. One of the few positives to stem from the coronavirus pandemic is the quality time it has allowed us to spend with our loved ones — finally having a spare moment to teach your daughter how to use a baitcaster, spending a little more time on the water with your spouse, or simply enjoying some solitude on the boat with your pup.

While fishing during the coronavirus, we believe there is a way to practice #ResponsibleRecreation. To help you navigate the situation in front of us, we're sharing our top fishing tips to help you stay responsible on and off the water.

1. Be aware of local laws

AFTCO stands behind the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) in conjunction with Keep America Fishing on their efforts to keep us all informed of the latest COVID-19 fishing closures. Especially helpful is the TakeMeFishing.org interactive map by state, which allows easy access to the latest regulations throughout the country.  Many of you may be asking yourself, "can I go fishing during coronavirus?" In most cases that answer is yes. However before going any further, we suggest you follow local laws and make a game plan from there.

Amid growing closures and restrictions, the ASA recently sent letters to each of the 50 governors requesting that they keep recreational fishing opportunities and businesses open as much as possible. The letters were delivered to the governors’ offices on Friday, March 27. 

2. Postpone, don't cancel

Many people are out of work or working reduced hours right now. This is especially true for those who make a living on the water.  If you have a trip scheduled to fish with a guide, local charter captain or on a sport-boat, we suggest postponing rather than cancelling. The best place to start is simply reaching out and having a conversation with that fishing captain.

3. Stay local

Are you wondering where the best place to go fishing during the coronavirus pandemic is? We recommend you stay local.  Don't take any long fishing trips or overnighters outside of your area. Now is not the time to go in search of different water. Stick to your local lake and when heading out, minimize contact at all facilities you encounter along the way (boat ramps, bathrooms, gas stations).

4. Wear a face mask

The CDC recommends always wearing a mask in all public settings. The ideal option is a heavy weight, tight weave cotton mask. There are many great resources on this topic, but we’ve found the CDC’s DIY guide to making your own cloth face covering to be a helpful starting place.

Many of our customers have started wearing AFTCO fishing face masks to adhere to the CDC's recommendation. We offer many different types of fishing face masks. To be clear, we have no scientific studies or confirmation from the CDC or WHO to confirm that it’s an appropriate and approved face covering, and are asking each person to use their best judgement on what works for them. At the same time, we felt compelled to step up to the plate to help. In response to these requests, we have created the AFTCO Buy 1, Give 1 Mask Program to help get masks into the hands of people in need.

Already own an AFTCO face mask like Solido, or a face mask from another brand that has breathing holes?

Under normal fishing conditions, the mask’s built-in breathing holes should be aligned with your mouth, allowing your breath to escape without fogging up your glasses/sunglasses. However, to help minimize the spread of COVID-19, we recommend you adjust the mask such that the breathing holes are no longer in front of your mouth.

5. Social distance while fishing

Inherently fishing is a great social distancing activity. If you're wondering how you can more effectively practice social distance while fishing, follow these tips. When on the water, it is important that you do not encroach on fellow fisherman practicing #ResponsibleRecreation. This is especially important if you are bank fishing. Avoid walking close to another bank fisherman and explore a new part of the lake or walk the opposite way. It's a little easier to maintain your distance when fishing from a boat, but the same idea applies. Keep to boating and fishing etiquette and there should not be any issues. Do be extremely mindful at the boat ramps, taking the time to practice social distancing while launching and retrieving your boat. Completely avoid public fish cleaning spaces or any other high contact areas. 

6. Pack in, pack out

Our final tip is something that should be practiced regardless of the current situation and it is referred to as Pack In, Pack Out. Whatever comes with you, should leave with you. That includes any food, trash, fishing line, or used baits. We want to leave the lake better off than it was when we got there. This way, we can preserve the resources that we all love for future generations. We encourage this philosophy through the AFTCO Bank Bag Incentive.

Utilize these tips in the era of social distancing to help protect yourself and others around you from coronavirus. Let’s work together to beat this disease and get back on the water soon.

BONUS TIP: As a means to make fishing more accessible, a number of states have waived fishing license fees. Meaning you can fish for free during coronavirus statewide mandates. The same can be said for boat ramp fees. Check the your local regulations to see if this applies to you.

Need fishing tackle? Contact your local tackle store. Many are doing curbside pickup, delivery or providing additional options if not fully operational. View AFTCO's dealer locator to find an retailer near you.