More have gone fishing during the coronavirus crisis than ever before.
Increased sales of fishing licenses detailed the trend. Vermont, for example, sold about 21,270 resident fishing licenses through April 30 — nearly 7,800 more than at that point last year. The same was true for South Carolina: Resident freshwater fishing license sales in March 2020 totaled 26,858 – an increase of 5,533 over the 21,325 sold in March 2019.
Why? Social distancing is easy to maintain while on the water. Fishing rods measure anywhere from 2 to 8 feet and fly rods are typically a bit longer, between 6 and 10 feet.
It’s not a true statement across the board, however. The two-month salmon fishing season in Alaska starts in June and the governor is considering increased safety measures and rule enforcement, as well as a possible cancellation for the 12,000 people who typically participate.
If you’re an angler or want to learn a new sport, check out The Fly Shop in Redding, California. The Fly Shop first opened its doors in 1978 and its staff includes world-renowned fly tiers, Master Fly Casting Instructors, celebrated angling authors and even a member of Fly Fishing Hall of Fame.
Global Rescue asked Pat Pendergast, director of international travel, a few questions about fly fishing during the coronavirus pandemic.
What is the draw – the pull – of getting back to nature? How can fly fishing help?
Fly fishing is a way to recreate oneself in the splendor of nature. It's a recreational activity good for the mind, body and spirit and refreshes the soul. We feel fly fishing represents healthy and safe social distancing, within the boundaries of what the experts recommend.
What types of fly fishing trips do you think people will be looking for in the future?
There is (and will be) a lot of pent-up demand from anglers to get back on the water and fly fish, once things start to return to some sort of normalcy and states and countries start to open up in their individual phases.
At first, fly anglers will venture out to their local fisheries first, just to test the waters so to speak, before venturing out of state and/or out of country. When the world starts to get back to some sort of normalcy, folks will start to travel further from home to go fishing and eventually venture to international fly fishing destinations. For right now, this will be a summer of wait and see and planning before folks start to travel in the fall and winter of 2020.
If people are going to take one trip, they are going to take a really good one. How do you handcraft trips to provide the best adventure possible?
The most important aspect of helping anglers with arranging a fly fishing trip, domestic or international, is truly listening to the person. They say "listening" is an act of love. You need to figure out what the person is looking for in their fishing experience, what their expectations are, their wants and needs. Once you have a clear idea as to what sort of trip the anglers are looking to arrange, you need to work within their budget and time constraints — how much time door to door they have to devote to the trip.
With all this information we make several suggestions on destinations that may be an excellent fit. The Fly Shop’s recommendations are based on our collective experience (hundreds of years) in the industry, real life experience with each and every destination we represent. We have been guides, owned and managed our own lodges, and spent a considerable amount of our lives exploring and fishing the destinations we represent. We know the minute details of what makes a good trip a great trip.
What has been, before coronavirus, your most popular trip?
Kamchatka, Russia (between July and September); Chile, Patagonia (between December and March); Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico (between February and November); and Alaska (between June and October).
What do you think, post coronavirus, will be your most popular trip?
Good solid fisheries and destinations that are popular now will be the same in future.
Are there any new procedures you’ve put in place to keep people safe?
We are taking the necessary precautions as outlined by the state of California and our local county and city managers and elected officials. Our retail shop is currently closed to the public, but we are processing online orders, call-in orders and, for local fly fishers, offering curbside pick-up.
The Fly Shop is also a longtime Global Rescue partner. We have been working with Global Rescue for many years and they are the best in the business. When travel starts up again, we will work with Global Rescue in developing a mitigation plan that assures the safety of our travelers.
If Global Rescue members would like to start fly fishing or plan a trip, what would you like them to know about The Fly Shop?
Every member of the team here at The Fly Shop® who answers your phone calls, responds to your e-mails, or fills your orders is a bona fide fly fishing expert. We’ve proven ourselves to be a company you can trust and you can count on to deliver the best in products, service and international travel destinations.
Whether you’re fishing close to home or abroad, fishing is usually best off-the-beaten path. Smart anglers carry a Global Rescue membership, just in case.