Being away from school or off work brings added opportunity to go fishing. But is it a good idea during the pandemic?
Dr. Neil Schaffner, an avid bass angler and a medical professional involved in the battle against coronavirus, said social distancing practices can be applied on the water.
“Probably the safest place to be right now is on the lake,” said Schaffner, of Opelika, Ala. He is a 40-year veteran of the medical profession with a background in critical care and, currently, an endocrinologist on staff at East Alabama Medical Center.
“Everybody knows you’re supposed to practice social distancing by staying at least six feet away from other people. You can do that when you’re out in open spaces and open air.”
That doesn’t mean anglers should be oblivious to the dangers of contracting what, for some, can be a deadly virus.
“Your biggest risk is at the gas pump,” Schaffner said. “Perhaps 500 people have touched the handle before you picked it up.”
Schaffner recommends not touching any hard surface without protection. Wear gloves if you can. If you do not have surgical gloves, work gloves are better than nothing. Anything that provides a barrier between your skin and a contaminated surface can help. Using a paper towel to hold the gas pump handle might save someone from getting the disease, he said.
Schaffner knows that fishing with a buddy makes the outing more enjoyable. In these times, two might be a crowd. He lists several ways to minimize the danger of catching coronavirus from a fishing buddy.
“The good thing is that there’s at least six feet between the front pedestal and the back pedestal in a bass boat,” he said.
Still, it’s important to observe caution when considering fishing with another person.
“If your buddy just got off a cruise ship three days ago, I wouldn’t go fishing with him,” Schaffner said. “If your fishing partner displays any coronavirus symptoms, don’t fish with him.”
Should you still decide to fish with someone else, do all you can to avoid touching a surface your friend has touched. Agree that the two of you will stay on opposite ends of the boat and not touch anything the other has touched. If you hook a big bass and he nets the fish for you, sanitize the net handle.
Sharing the cab of a pickup brings the two of you into closer proximity, but Schaffner believes normal, steady breathing and conversation should not be much of a risk. It would not be a bad idea for both of you to wear masks and to drive with the windows down, he adds.
In these extreme times, what used to be done out of an abundance of caution has now become common sense.