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Opinion: We Must Keep Lakes Open Amid Coronavirus

I’m not a doctor. Big surprise there, huh?

I’m just a fish bum who, just like all of you, is trying to navigate this new “normal” as the Coronavirus pandemic upends our daily routines and affects households and individuals throughout the world. I don’t care about politics and I’m not going to act like I know a whole bunch about this virus. I’ve tried to educate myself about it by watching the news, but I can only make it a few minutes before I turn it off.

I did, however, get news that Illinois closed all of its state-owned fisheries, wildlife areas and parks this week. This was supposedly done in response to the Coronavirus issues. We can only hope that other states do not follow suit. I’ve thought about this for the last few days and had several discussions with folks about the Illinois decision and I can’t, for the life of me, wrap my head around it. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

I’m certainly not taking this virus lightly, but what is it going to hurt to let us keep fishing? We paid for our license and it should be the individual’s decision when and where to fish. This is our pastime and we’re not hurting a soul. Is there a better, more enjoyable way to practice social distancing right now?

Personally speaking, I can launch my boat right now and not touch a single thing that’s not mine. I’m touching my boat, my trailer, my gear, my keys and my truck. I’m not talking to anyone and I’m dang sure not any closer than six feet from anyone. Heck, I won’t even be 200 yards from someone.

I went fishing this past Friday with a buddy and for the first time in a couple weeks, I didn’t think or hear about the Coronavirus for a few hours. I almost forgot what it felt like to be back to normal for a bit. We weren’t the only ones out there, either. There were several people out there, normal guys just like us, just trying to escape this crap for an afternoon.

One of the worst things for your immune system is stress. Myself and millions of others combat stress with fishing. Let us continue to take our kids on the water. Let us continue to breathe fresh, clean air. Let us enjoy these budding spring colors. Let us continue to create memories and pretend like everything is fine. Let us turn the news off and choose joy over panic.

Please. Just for a few hours, let us do keep doing what we love so dearly. Whether you’re from California, Texas, Minnesota or Georgia, we’re all just looking for an escape.