With most sports on hiatus due to the threat of COVID-19, trout season is set to open in New York on Wednesday, and anglers are hoping to capitalize on spreading the sport's popularity at a time when other sports are on hold.
"Everybody is hunkering down like they tell us to do, but there is currently no directive telling us we can't go fishing," said Tom Trelease, president of Oneonta's chapter of Trout Unlimited, a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America's cold-water fisheries and watersheds.
"General consensus is that everybody has cabin fever, and they're going to want to get out a little," he continued.
While Washington Gov. Jay Inslee included a recreational fishing ban in his "stay home, stay healthy" order last week, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on Monday confirmed its plans to open trout season on Wednesday.
The DEC will post flyers at fishing locations throughout the state, reminding sportsmen to respect social distancing guidelines, fish close to home if possible and postpone trips if you are over 70 years of age or have a compromised immune system.
Trelease echoed the DEC's guidelines, encouraging anglers to fish alone, and to walk to their fishing hole if possible.
"I'm a little concerned we might see crowds on the holes, and that wouldn't be good for social distancing," Trelease said.
He noted that more people, including kids typically in school when the season opens, will be home Wednesday.
"Don't get five guys together in your car and go fishing, go by yourself if you go," Trelease said.
Trelease said the opportunity to grow the sport's popularity, particularly in younger demographics, is appealing.
He mentioned a school program called "Trout in the Classroom" that Trout Unlimited runs in conjunction with handful of area school districts, as well as other youth outreach efforts by the group.
"Our average age is going down, but not as much as we want," Trelease said. "We're really encouraging people to get involved in the sport."
More information, including how to get a fishing license, can be found online at dec.ny.gov.