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Matt Snider
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Can I go out fishing with a stay-at-home order?

Blog by: Matt Snider , CO 3/25/2020
Can I go out fishing with a stay-at-home order?

If youíre an eager angler, and I assume you are because youíre reading this, then you probably know the answer to this.  The answer is yes.  So long as you adhere to social distancing recommendations, you can be outside recreating. [edit: keep in mind that cramming with a friend or friends into a car or small boat would not be considered good social distancing.]

Larimer County just issued a stay-at-home order effective Thursday 3/26/20.  This is where I am and I have not looked closely at the details of other jurisdictions.  This is a summary from the Larimer County main order page:

During a stay-at-home order you are able to:
  • Go to the pharmacy to get medication.
  • Get groceries for you and anyone that lives in your home.
  • Have a take-out meal from your favorite local restaurant.
  • Get food or supplies for your pet.
  • Take your dog around the block or go for a hike -- as long as you are keeping your distance from others.
  • Enjoy City and County open spaces
  • Take groceries and supplies to your at-risk parents, grandparents, or neighbors
  • Get margaritas-to-go from your favorite watering hole! (please enjoy responsibly from home)
Iím glad they included the margarita item.  I think fishing should make that list, but I suppose itís not feasible to cover all activities. Just keep your distance.  Most of us typically do.

In fact, I cannot think of another recreational activity with participants that are so inclined to keep at a distance.  A 150 foot minimum distance is common among anglers.  That is the prescribed distance boats must stay from shore anglers, and this is typically held as a good minimum spacing distance when youíre out fishing in any form on any body of water.  Fly fishermen, well the distance may be more like 2 miles.  And ice fishermen, well, sometimes itís more like 15 feet.  But still greater than the recommended 6 feet. 

I received an email correspondence today from Matt Nichols, Aquatic Section Manager for CPW.  He said the walleye spawn was suspended due to social distancing health recommendations. Iíve been on those floating spawn offices Ė it is tight (and sliippery) to say the least.  Biologists across the state at this time are preparing for their ďfieldĒ season and analyzing data.  Hatcheries are still in production but closed to visitors - they are still producing and stocking fish.  Stocked trout lovers rejoice!  And heck, that is great news for all the kids that need something to do this spring.  Nichols said they are encouraging people to get out and fish.  Here here.  As long as you follow all the guidelines from the CDC and CDPHE.

The CPW just issued a release today about the state of walleye in Colorado to address concerns from the angling public since the spawn operation ended early.  Around 6.5 million eggs were still harvested - theyíre going to make the best of it, and say the populations in CO are strong.  Focus from this yearís harvest will be placed on the brood waters of Pueblo, Chatfield, and Cherry Creek.

I just purchased my Colorado 2020-2021 fishing license online, which is good from now for more than a year through March 31, 2021.  Iíd suggest doing this early so that you donít miss a beat.  With all that is going on, and uncertainty of postage times, at least you will have a TAN (a proof of your license purchase) when April 1 comes around and you need a new license.  The TAN is good for 14 days from when you purchase it.  Iíd typically also suggest that you can buy from a physical store, but many are closed (any gas stations out there selling licenses? Iím sure there are, post in the comments if you know of any).

Today I was out running in a Fort Collins Natural Area which is home to a stretch of the Poudre River and a few ponds.  I saw a ranger pull in with a pickup truck and set up a construction-style easel, ready to post a sign. We stopped and asked about it, fearing that she was posting a closure sign. Instead to my appreciation she was posting a sign simply about maintaining social spacing while in the area.  Good news, although I am not sure we need a big orange reminder on a nature trail at this point.

In the end, many of us are now under a stay-at-home order.  Remind yourself that this is not the same as house arrest.  Get out and do something outside.  My choice and likely yours is to go fishing.  This should not become known as the Netflix Era.  It should become known as the Net Fish Era.
Walleye Spawn 2018
Blog content © Matt Snider
Blog Comments
Dan Swanson, 3/26/2020 4:46:42 AM
Something to think about: if there are ANS inspectors at lakes then boating is allowed. Just be smart and practice the social distance 6 foot spacing. All it will take to shut this down is a bunch of people crammed into one boat.
Matt Snider (Matt), 3/26/2020 7:23:58 AM
Good point. Or crammed into a car getting there. Stay safe
Goosehunter82, 3/26/2020 8:43:06 AM
Good info Matt. I spoke with a ranger this morning that said they aren't sure about ANS Inspections but that they the Rangers are still at the Lakes and they can perform the inspections.
fishthumpre, 3/26/2020 9:00:04 AM
Well done Matt, and well done Parks and Wildlife. There's been a lot of discussion among the Loveland Fishing Club about all this, and a lot of confusion. We are fortunate I see New Mexico is just telling anglers to stay home, and I believe the states of Washington and Illinois have closed down on fishing too. We can fish, but not fish in packs.
johnski, 3/26/2020 11:27:49 AM
Thanks Matt. Thats the way I read it too. Fact that state parks are open through this is also conducive to fishing and birding, my other pastime.
BuffsnRox, 3/26/2020 1:45:10 PM
Danís comment is a great point. I think a good general rule is if they donít live with you, they donít belong in the boat or car right now. When youíre getting inspected, hand your seal slip over at arms length,, be polite, and be patient. Everyone is super stressed right now and a little courtesy seems to go even further. I think if we just use our heads and be nice to each other we will all have plenty of lake and river time to get through this.
ELVIS, 3/28/2020 8:15:13 AM
Yes , thanks guy's Great Report and advice/suggestions much appreciated .
Hawaiian Punch, 3/28/2020 9:18:25 AM
All state parks have a web site and it is very current and updated regulary. Having read the goveners stay at home order,I see that using your state park is incouraged as long as you pratice SD . . . .Driving there? Yep! My advice? Be smart,don't panic,stay safe,pratice SD. Take advantage of the oppertunity to get out . . .be it a walk or trip to fish.
Mlee8, 3/30/2020 3:20:09 PM
Thank you for the info, Matt. Still thinking about hitting the ice at Eleven Mile. Do you know if we are allowed to use huts?
FishingFun, 4/6/2020 10:27:36 AM
was at Chatfield on 4/4 with what I saw I'm a bit worried they are going to shut down fishing. they easy to walk to places were packed with people not social distancing, mainly older folks.
Anteroman, 4/6/2020 11:40:34 AM
Yes they are open and yes they have fishing licenses. Badger Basin Country Store Convenience Stores Directions Map Address: 12551 US Highway 24, Hartsel, CO 80449 Phone: Ư 719 836 2142
flightattendant, 4/7/2020 2:00:40 PM
Chaffee county ,Buena Vista to Salida,has asked people to resist the temptation to travel to the mountains for recreational activities.Especially these next 2 weeks. Bummer,could be a good blue wing hatch on the Arkansas.
Walleye Guy, 4/7/2020 2:21:52 PM
Antero man, do you know if the rivers are starting to open up in Park County? Gracias amigo
michaelpthompson, 4/15/2020 7:21:48 AM
Well written Matt. I've seen confusing and misleading comments on this, but if you can walk the dog, go for a hike, and enjoy open spaces, it's hard to interpret the regs as prohibiting fishing. Just stay six feet away and enjoy those margaritas.