Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and Fishing

Can I go fishing while social distancing?

Can you go fishing during the current Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic? Yes, with some exceptions depending on which state you fish in.

Most states are encouraging fishermen to spend time on the water, as long as they are being safe and following local regulations and guidelines. After all, what better way to practice ‘social distancing’ while maintaining your mental health than by getting outside and enjoying some fishing?

Here are some basic guidelines for safe fishing during the COVID-19 Crisis:

  • Stay home if you are sick, or showing or feeling any COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, coughing, and/or troubled breathing
  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least six (6) feet of distance between yourself and others. A good way to measure this is with your fishing pole! Hold the pole straight out in front you. If you can turn in a circle without hitting anyone, that is a safe distance.
  • Follow CDC guidelines, such as wearing a mask in public.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available
  • Drive to your fishing spots only with your immediate family members and only if everyone is feeling well.
  • Don’t share fishing gear with others. Each angler should have their own fishing gear (rod and reels, bait, lures, towels, pliers, and other personal items).

We’ve gathered the latest information from state agencies in the Northeast. Rules and recommendations are changing daily, but we’ll do our best to keep the information below up to date.

Related Post:
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Maine
As of May 7, 2020, fishing is open per current seasons/regulations. Buy your Maine Fishing license online.

New Hampshire

Under Governor Chris Sununu’s Emergency Order #17 on March 26, 2020, outdoor recreation is permitted in the Granite State as long as people take added precautions to practice social distancing. New Hampshire Fish and Game has not made any changes as of yet to seasons and all rules and regulations remain in effect and will be enforced by Conservation Officers.

Fishing, clamming, the use of NH Fish and Game’s Wildlife Management Areas and boat ramps, and wildlife watching are all permitted. Toilet facilities are closed at NH Fish and Game boat ramps until further notice due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Docks will not be installed until the social distancing restrictions are lifted. “Fresh air and being in nature are important for our mental health and people are encouraged to recreate safely, responsibly, and close to home,” said Colonel Kevin Jordan, Chief of Law Enforcement at NH Fish and Game. Buy your New Hampshire Fishing license online.

Vermont

As of April 21, 2020, under the terms of Gov. Phil Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, Vermonters are encouraged to get outside provided they can do so while meeting social distancing and other guidelines. In addition, to the greatest extent possible, outdoor activities should take place within 10 miles of home to minimize travel and potential risk of exposure to COVID-19. The enforcement order by the Attorney General would not preclude those activities, provided they can take place in ways consistent with the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. In addition, Gov. Scott has directed out of state visitors to not come to Vermont unless they are part of the essential services exempt from the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Order and, if they do come to Vermont, to self-quarantine for 14 days before engaging in any activity including outdoor recreation.The department’s Fishing Access Areas are open 24/7 as they always have been, but the public is reminded to practice safe social distancing and only recreate with people that you have been self-quarantining with.

According to Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Shawn Good, “The times we’re facing right now have had a deep impact on our work, school and social lives, but fishing has long been viewed as an effective stress-reliever. Any time spent outside reconnecting with nature has been proven to benefit our health in many ways.” Buy your Vermont Fishing License online.

Massachusetts

On May 18, 2020, Massachusetts announced that charter fishing can resume on May 25.

On April 27, 2020, Massachusetts announced recreational boating guidelines that allow recreational boating under guidelines such as “Only persons from the same household should be together on a boat at one time.”

All fishing regulations, including licenses, are still in effect during the State of Emergency and Stay at Home Advisory. The revenue generated from license sales goes directly toward conservation, research, stocking, education, and restoration. Outdoor activities, and travel to and from those activities, are still permitted. All residents should practice social distancing by remaining 6 feet away from other people while participating in outdoor activities. Massachusetts Fishing Licenses can be obtained online by visiting the MassFishHunt online portal.

Rhode Island 

On May 4, Rhode Island issued recreational boating guidelines for boating during COVID-19. Boaters are urged to follow safety rules including staying close to home, and boating only with people in your immediate household.

As of April 21, 2020, trout fishing season is open in Rhode Island with restrictions to reduce crowds in line with public health guidance. Also, ponds in State Parks and some other stocked waters are off limits. Due to the current stay at home order, out-of-state anglers should fish in their local state for the time being. Rhode Island fishing licenses can be purchased online.

Connecticut

Governor Ned Lamont’s Executive Order No. 7PP allows for-hire fishing (party/charter boats) to resume operation on May 20th, subject to a limit of 5 passengers per vessel.On April 18, the governors of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey announced that marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers in their states will be allowed to open for personal use as long as strict social distancing and sanitization protocols are followed. Chartered watercraft services or rentals will not be allowed, and restaurant activity at these sites must be limited to take-out or delivery only.

On March 24, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont issued an Executive Order opening lakes, ponds, rivers and streams to fishing statewide. Opening the fishing season early helps to limit community spread of COVID-19 by eliminating the large crowds that often accompany the traditional Opening Day of fishing in April. During this time of social distancing, fishing should be enjoyed as a solitary experience or with members of your immediate household, not as a group activity. DEEP is encouraging all anglers to follow social distancing practices. Anglers should maintain a distance of at least six feet from others, practice good personal hygiene, and stay home and away from others if you feel sick. If you arrive at a favorite fishing spot and see that crowds are forming, choose a different location, or return another day or time. Anglers are encouraged to purchase 2020 Connecticut fishing licenses online.

New York

In five regions of NY (Central NY, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier), for-hire fishing vessels and services will be allowed to resume operations beginning May 15.

On April 18, the governors of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey announced that marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers in their states will be allowed to open for personal use as long as strict social distancing and sanitization protocols are followed. Chartered watercraft services or rentals will not be allowed, and restaurant activity at these sites must be limited to take-out or delivery only.

As of March 28, 2020, the NY DEC and State Parks are encouraging responsible recreation during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, they launched a new hashtag – #RecreateLocal – and encouraged New Yorkers to get outside and discover open spaces and parks close to home. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York State is home to some of the most spectacular public lands and parks in the world. In uncertain times, these special places can serve as an oasis from stress, fear, and anxiety.”

On March 24, 2020, Seggos reminded New Yorkers that trout and salmon fishing season opens on Wednesday, April 1. New York’s coldwater lakes and streams offer springtime trout anglers the opportunity to pursue trout in a wide array of settings across the state. Commissioner Seggos said, “Fishing is good for the mind and body. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo continues to invest in ensuring New York’s renowned fisheries remain healthy and productive. While this winter’s mild conditions offered ample opportunities for hardcore or novice trout and salmon anglers to pursue their favorite gamefish on waters open to year-round fishing, springtime remains the main event. Water temperatures are rising, causing trout to feed more aggressively, and present a perfect opportunity for anglers. I encourage all anglers, novice and expert, to get outside and fish, but act responsibly by practicing social distancing and staying safe.”

New Jersey

In an executive order Saturday, May 16, Gov. Phil Murphy cleared the services, including boats that take people on fishing trips, to operate under strict guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including limiting vessel capacity to 10 people and requiring crew and passengers to wear masks.

On April 30, Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order to reopen state parks and forests at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 2, for passive recreation, including fishing and hunting.

On April 18, the governors of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey announced that marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers in their states will be allowed to open for personal use as long as strict social distancing and sanitization protocols are followed. Chartered watercraft services or rentals will not be allowed, and restaurant activity at these sites must be limited to take-out or delivery only.

New Jersey DFW published this poster encouraging safe practices while fishing during the COVID-19 crisis.

Pennsylvania

Effective 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) opened the statewide 2020 trout season. This measure allows properly licensed anglers and youth to begin fishing for and harvesting trout. All regulations, sizes, and creel limits apply.

To reduce unnecessary travel and social contact amid health concerns, Commission Executive Director Tim Schaeffer signed an emergency order that allows anglers and boaters to display their fishing license, launch permit, or boat registration digitally on a phone or other mobile device as proof of possession. This change will allow customers who may be unable to, or feel uncomfortable visiting a store to purchase a fishing license, launch permit, or boat registration renewal to make the purchase online through The Outdoor Shop.

For information on fishing and the coronavirus crisis in other states, visit the COVID-19 and Fishing page setup by Keep America Fishing.

29 on “Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and Fishing

  1. Patrick Callejo

    Can somebody please relay this article to gov. Inslee of the state of washington. I lost my job, my kids can’t go to school, and if I don’t go fishing soon, I will loose my flippin mind.

      1. Allen Carter

        Hey thanks, Kevin for sharing that. I am a U.S. Army Veteran and I suffer from PTSD. Being outside doing things such as fishing hunting and BBQ’n is what helps me. Fishing helps me tremendously this time of year and I am sure it does for other people that suffers from PTSD. I totally understand what Gov. Inside And Fish and Wildlife is doing but I think boat launches can be monitored and maintained by everyone to continue practicing social distancing.

      1. Fernando Valencia

        Where can I go fishing deep sea near Los Angeles

  2. Alex Dolly

    LOL .. Rhode Island Governor ” ” During the weeks ahead I ask that people recreate close to Home…In their back yards ” Not if your back yard is a beach ; then just stay inside

    1. Anthony N

      Will there be consequences for going to neighboring states to go fishing? I live in ma and is trying to go to RI to a few of my fishing spots

  3. Amber M

    With no work and no school I’m going to go insane. Most states say if you maintain your distance its a great outdoor activity. So why not Washington, I’m going to lose it for sure

  4. Chris K.

    I fished my local pond the other day in my kayak.
    The problem was getting back to the ramp.
    So many people are fishing on or very close to the launch ramp and not moving when you are getting off the water .
    PLEASE PEOPLE GIVE BOATS AND KAYAKERS ROOM TO GET OFF THE WATER !!!!PLEASE PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING!!

  5. I am a natural man of God

    I believe the politicians president everybody using this crisis as a way to get billions of dollars out of the tax that fishing is a way for a man to feed his family when the grocery stores and the gross all the places of price gouging and Evan put mark down the prices when you go catch free fish there’s nobody around you was getting ready really happen if somebody going to try to blow up or something cuz you need to tell the truth if you have a beach out in your backyard why would you want them to stay in when there’s nobody out there in the first place there’s going to be an explosion you need to let the people of the America know

  6. John Manuel

    Can I go fishing in Maryland in a trout Catch and Release section?

  7. Anthony N

    Will there be consequences for going to neighboring states to go fishing? I live in ma and is trying to go to RI to a few of my fishing spots

  8. Ryan Hendricks

    There is a ban on fishing in Washington state. If I live on a lake that offers year round fishing and my liscence is current, can I fish from my dock?

    1. Ryan Hendricks

      Update, I emailed Washington department of fish and wildlife the same question I asked earlier. They responded and said, all fishing is closed no matter your location, unless you own a private pond that you pay to have stocked. Ridiculous

      1. DOUGLAS A. SMITH

        When state governments impose regulations which, on the surface, seem utterly batshit crazy, it would be a positive gesture to explain or at least report the reasons for the deprivation of liberty.

  9. Joseph Alfano

    Can people in the state of North Carolina go fishing I’m losing my mind I need to rip some lips badly

  10. Al green

    I would be careful coming into RI. Richmond police arrested two people from Mass that sneaked into RI to play a round of golf

  11. Allen Carter

    Hey thanks, Kevin for sharing that. I am a U.S. Army Veteran and I suffer from PTSD. Being outside doing things such as fishing hunting and BBQ’n is what helps me. Fishing helps me tremendously this time of year and I am sure it does for other people that suffers from PTSD. I totally understand what Gov. Inside And Fish and Wildlife is doing but I think boat launches can be monitored and maintained by everyone to continue practicing social distancing.

  12. tom felice

    On some website, which I cannot remember, I read that boat owner may use their boats but only with immediate family…no friends. Does anyone know if that applied to NY, specifically Long Island?

  13. NICK ANGUIANO

    Can I go fishing in Long Beach California or Seal Beach California or Cabrillo Beach California??

  14. Cindy

    “Most states are encouraging fishermen to spend time on the water, as long as they are being safe and following local regulations and guidelines.” Hey what about we fisherwomen or fisher kids???

    1. Connor

      ……. You know what they mean. Take it easy.

      This is the definition of a non-issue.

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