From ncgasa.org- California Fishing & COVID-19

From ncgasa.org- California Fishing & COVID-19

3-26-2020
Jeff Goodwin
(707) 616-1905

COVID-19 UPDATE MARCH 26th
Attention Guides and anglers: PLEASE READ AND SHARE

Over the past 48 hours we have fielded hundreds of call from guides and anglers across California seeking clarification on the State’s policies regarding recreational angling. This is an extremely fluid situation. As many of you are aware, that while the State has issued a “shelter in place” directive, citizens are being advised that certain forms of outdoor recreation are approved, in fact even encouraged, as long as proposed social distancing protocols are observed.

Here is what we do know. In an effort to reduce congestion at various state parks and beaches, on Monday night the Governor ordered the closure of all state parks PARKING LOTS. The recreational areas themselves are not closed, but by restricting parking the State hopes to reduce the congestion of these areas, which saw massive public gatherings on the first weekend of the quarantine.

Further, following that announcement, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife posted the following on their Facebook page:

Now more than ever, we understand the public’s need to enjoy the benefits of nature. Spending time in the outdoors is beneficial to our overall health and wellness, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to practice social distancing of 6 feet. This means avoiding crowded trails and parking lots. To help reduce crowds, State Parks has closed some parking lots to avoid inadvertent congregation and reduce the density of visitors. More closures are anticipated. Fishing is allowed, as long as anglers can maintain #socialdistancing of 6 feet or more from other people. If you find that your favorite fishing hole is crowded, please do not risk your health and the health of others! Be smart and stay safe – we are all in this together and we must #flattenthecurve.

That said, some counties have begun enforcing STRICTER closures on various lakes, park systems, and other outdoor spaces in their area of jurisdiction. NCGASA does not currently have the capacity to monitor and track each of these regional / local actions. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILTY, as anglers, to understand if the area you recreate in is subject to a tighter restriction than what the State has ordered.

We are further not aware of any distinction between bank and boat fishing. If you fish on the bank, maintain social distancing. If you fish on your boat, maintain social distancing. You have the RESPONSIBILITY to determine how many people you can safely accommodate on your boat. Maybe for the time being its just you and your family members that you live with. We are simply recommending that you use common sense and abide by social distancing measures that are being imposed.

We have heard that various boat launches may be closed. This could be because the state or local jurisdiction is not staffing launch ramps or invasive species check points (Tahoe) at this time. It could be that some local jurisdictions have taken a harder line on closures. Some public and private marinas are open, others are closed. The City of Sacramento Marina, for example, is not accepting new berth applications, but if your boat is already in the water the Marina is not closed and you can take your boat out. Marinas in the Delta are mostly open, but there have been a few closures of ramps. The same on the Sacramento and Feather Rivers. It is your responsibility to check to see if a launch ramp is open before attempting to launch.

For Guides: As we have said before, NCGASA is not here to tell you how to operate your business! The Governor’s Executive Order provides clarity on exempted businesses at this time, and does specifically list COMMERCIAL fisheries as exempted. Recreational guiding is not mentioned. See below link. That being said, NCGASA will not get involved in decision making and the operation of your business. However, recognize that your willingness to take a full boat of clients out may not comply with social distancing mandates, and could result in public shaming and or enforcement activity depending on the jurisdiction that you are in.

Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers document
• LINK TO PDF FILE

In Addition: NCGASA has not been able to independently verify social media reports about enforcement in San Francisco Bay or other areas as are being reported in online forums and threads. As you are undoubtedly aware, just because you saw it on the Internet does not mean that it is TRUE. We suggest that at this time you closely monitor official government Facebook, Twitter, and other VERIFIED distribution channels to ensure you are getting accurate information.

In Summary: This should not be construed as legal advice. Also remember, that one bad actor (a boat jammed full of people) could ruin opportunity for EVERYONE and result in more heavy handed closures, as have been done in WA recently. Be smart, be safe, maintain social distancing and don’t do something that would result in the entire community getting a black eye. We do NOT want to see a directive similar to WA that closes all recreational fisheries for a period of time. Please remember that each and every one of you represents a community. We are all in this together.

-- NCGASA Board of Directors