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The ups and downs of self-isolation and the angler

As I write this I am, like most of you, unsure as to how long we will be asked to self-isolate for the COVID-19 crisis. What I am reasonably certain of, however, is that this will have some sort of impact on my fishing season.  The first indication was that my fishing buddies started cancelling on me earlier than usual.

Fishing, as we all know, is an activity where camaraderie provides at least half the fun.

Don’t get me wrong, fishing alone is enjoyable too. But all that changes when you catch a really big fish. Then, you wish that your buddy was around to see it.

The plus side for me is that this does not occur that often.

That got me thinking that, I should try to find the bright side – meaning, other positive things that might come out of fishing alone. Maybe they’ll apply to you too.

First and perhaps most importantly, my reputation as an angler will be given much needed time to heal. There’s a lot to heal and I’m really not sure how much damage can be undone in the allotted time, but I do know that this will probably mean that no one will witness me waste five minutes whooping it up and yelling “I hooked a tank!” while fighting a neutrally buoyant stick. And that’s a pretty good start.

Also, when you fish alone, if you can figure out the right amount of camera blur, all you need is a Ken doll and the right background and you can make any fish look like a provincial record.

There are many other advantages to socially distant fishing too. For instance, you can attach worms to your flies, if other fly anglers are far enough away. You can also tell another fisherman who is keeping his distance that you caught all those fish on a fly pattern that doesn’t exist – or, better still, one that is fish repellent. No one will see you when you are 10 feet up a tree trying to retrieve your lure either. And you can launch a boat without the plug in and not have the story circulate through town. Similarly, no one will know when you have been skunked and no one will crowd you when you find a spot where the fishing is actually good. 

On the downside, you won’t be able to pretend to forget your wallet when you hit the drive-through on the way there and back. Nor will you be able to “borrow” a fly or lure. Worse of all, you will have no one to follow when you are determining if “this is a good place to cross the river.”

And I will certainly miss all these things.

The good news is, eventually, life will get back to normal and, if you drive to the launch separately, you can still phone your buddy when he is ahead of you in the drive-through to tell him you forgot your wallet. And, when you get to the lake, if you both keep to your respective end of a 17-foot boat or canoe, you can still maintain the required separation.

The point is, like everything else, angling is going to be a little different for a while and we are going to have to adapt. This will mean we will all have to make subtle little changes to make life, without a fishing partner at your side, a little more bearable.

This afternoon, for example, I sewed a fishing vest and waders for my Ken doll.

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