The realities of life with COVID-19 are not going to escape our partner guides, outfitters, and lodges for the upcoming summer and fall fishing seasons. Yet we cannot underestimate the necessity of time spent on the water for our own mental psyche. “River time” is important to nearly all of us. When the time comes to get back on the water, how can we do it in a way that is safe and respectful to those concerned about the continued spread of COVID-19?
At Yellow Dog we’ve looked to our partners whose livelihoods depend on getting back on the water. Here are some of just a few of the examples our what our western U.S. partners will be doing to reduce the spread and protect anglers and guests as soon as we are able to get back to a life spent fly fishing.
Increased Hand Washing Stations. Most of our lodges and fly shops have increased their available hand washing stations. Glacier Anglers, outside of Glacier National Park, has said the following: “throughout our complex and facilities, are hand washing and sanitation stations, as well as hand washing stations located in camp during each of our multi-day trips.”
Our Partner Lodges are Committed to Keeping Clean. All of Yellow Dog’s partner lodges have assured us that there is nothing more important to them than the health and safety of their guests and staff. Housekeepers, food and beverage employees, administration staff, and all other staff will be following all CDC guidelines to ensure healthy lodging environments for all guests and employees.
Our Overnight Float Trips Taking Cleanliness to a New Level. Jake Wells, Yellow Dog’s multi-day float trips expert says, “Sanitation on our overnight float trips will be a major focus. Our outfitters run meticulous clean camps to begin with so sanitation is very important. They have all added extra hand sanitizing protocols, upon setting-up and striking camp all gear will be cleaned and sanitized, and guides and camp staff will be properly educated and follow all CDC guidelines.”
Fishing Guides Adding Sanitation Protocols on Trips. Our fly fishing guides know people will want to go fishing soon. When that happens, our partner lodges and outfitters have been hard at work training fishing guides to reduce the risk of transmission. They are being trained to have anti-bacterial wipes in their vehicles and boats for wiping down nets, oars, rods, handles, steering wheels, gas pumps, etc. and to have additional wipes for their anglers. Guides will be wiping down boats and gear before and after each trip and during the day and ensure hand sanitizer is available at all times. During set-up of the rods and demonstrating casting or fishing techniques, guides will sanitize hands and gear. They will be taught the proper way to minimizing the risk of co-mingling air, such as sneezing or coughing downwind and sneezing or coughing into one’s own arm.
Increased Communication About New Cleaning Protocols. COVID-19 is not going to escape our daily lives this angling season. But by having open and honest conversations about the necessary precautions means anglers, guides, lodge and camp staff, can all relax and enjoy going fishing. Good judgement is crucial for everyone. Here’s what you can expect for a guided fishing trip in the near future:
- Cover up as best as possible. Buffs, sun-masks, gloves, hats, and glasses are all essential.
- Hugs will resume when this is all over. Air high fives, hang-tens, air-guitar riffs, and the like will be the new normal for awhile.
- If at all possible clients will be encouraged to travel in their own vehicles to and from fishing each day.
- During the rigging-up and breaking-down of gear, either guides or anglers will do this, but not both.
- Once flies are tied-on they will go directly into the water, not back to the angler.
- Vehicle shuttle companies—the drivers who move the guides’ rigs while fishing all day—will be sanitizing door handles and steering wheels before and after each shuttle.
- Trips may depart at various times throughout the day to avoid peak rush times at fly shops or boat ramps.
- Communication about these new protocols will be key. From who is taking the picture of a nice fish to bringing your own water bottle, we are all in this together so prior planning and communication is crucial so we can all ensure we can stay on the water once we can get back on the water.
We must all admit that COVID-19 has affected the fly fishing industry. But, those of us with a lifetime of experience traveling the world to fly fish know that fly fishing through tough times is the only way to help us get through tough times. The partner guides, outfitters, and lodges that we choose to work with share our passion for providing the best possible fishing services and lodging experiences.
For the upcoming summer and fall seasons, that means a new set of standard guidelines to help protect and reduce the transmission of COVID-19. At Yellow Dog we understand the importance of adhering to the “new normal.” When it is time to get back on the water and go fishing again, these procedures and open communication will ensure many more great experiences occur each day when fly fishing with Yellow Dog.