Inspiration From Social Distancing

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Inspiration From Social Distancing

By: Mark Bachmann

Tough News

1. All Oregon State, USFS, and BLM Campgrounds are closed. All USFS trail-heads are also closed. Our government agencies are determine to make us stay home. Keep people away from each other may be the simplest way to stop the spread of infectious diseases.

2. Boat Launches are closed in BLM, State of Oregon and Clackamas County Parks.
Prineville District is no longer selling new boater permits for the period from March 28th – April 30, 2020. All existing reservations for April 1st- April 30th will been cancelled and refunds will be issued. Overnight use at all campgrounds along these rivers were closed beginning 12:01 AM on April 1, 2020. The river closures will also include bathrooms at developed recreation areas as well as boat launches. Access to day-use sites, trails, and all roads remains open.

3. is currently not selling Deschutes Boater Passes.

The Silver Lining

4. Snow-pack in the Northern Segments of Oregon run from 96% to 139% of normal. April 4, 2020 in the Mt. Hood Unit, the area comprising the Sandy River, Hood River and White River were 107%. The Willamette Unit is 108% of normal. That could be good news for water temperatures later in the season, especially for anglers fishing steelhead on the Deschutes. 

5. Social Distancing is not that much fun, even for outdoor people. "Cabin Fever" may be a real disease, but I'm not sure if anyone has actually died from it. There could be aspects of good contributed by the "shelter in place order", such as temporary lessening of pressure on wild fish stocks and the environment that they live in. By removing pressure from the waters we love, it may be like putting money in the bank.


Seems that the most logical tactic against the spread of coronavirus is called social distancing. That means that we all need to stay at least six feet from each other. All recreations that draw crowds of people together are shut down in the United States during this pandemic of the coronavirus. Large gatherings of people have proven to be centers of contagion. The Mardi Gras were proved to cause an explosion of victims. Cities and the crowding they promote are to be avoided. I very much missed March Madness and will miss the NBA playoffs as well. Even going to the grocery store can put you in harm’s way by exposing you to the breath of other shoppers. However, every disappointment is also an opportunity.

The sport of fly fishing practically demands social distancing. It is hard to sneak up on a trout when there is a crowd of people in proximity. Our current situation is the perfect excuse (even if temporary) to break certain bonds that may have become impractical or uncomfortable, such as Cousin Pete or the neighbor across the street who has attach himself to your fishing schedule. “Sorry guy, I would really like to take you fishing again, but Governor Brown has demanded that we practice social distancing. Maybe again in a couple of months.”

Beyond casting and wading skills, stealth and patience are paramount to success as an angler. It is much easier to catch a fish if you know exactly where it is at. Sometimes it takes a long period of observation to locate your prey. That is often impossible when hordes of other impatient bumbling anglers are tromping around in the same area spooking every fish and putting them down. Coronavirus may be convenient by keeping other anglers away from your water.

Now because of coronavirus many of us are subject to a clinically imposed vacation. Many are catching up on sleep and are inventing new ways to feel sorry for themselves. Others are using this opportunity to do many things they always wished they had time to do.

Here are some ideas for a bored fly fisher:

1. Study maps. Take a long hike and explore a river (harder now that some trails are shut down). Get to know access points. Most hiking trails that are open are nearly devoid of people. What you find may become very useful when the season changes. The camera in your smart phone can become a handy device to record your journey.

2. Clean and inspect all your fly lines. Clean fly lines perform better than dirty ones. The time you spend in the off-season maintaining your lines will pay big dividends during the open season.

3. Clean, inspect, and reorganize all your vests, packs and tackle bags. It is amazing how cluttered and disorganized tackle can get during use. Down-time during social distancing is the perfect time to get organized.

4. Write lists of things that are missing or worn out. Even if you don’t have the money to buy replacement parts now the good times will come back and you will be ahead of the game.

5. Check all your rods and reels. Clean and lubricate reels if necessary. Wax the ferules on all your rods.

6. Learn to tie a new type of fly. Remember the hatch you couldn’t match last summer. You will probably encounter it again next summer. Now is a good time to get prepared.

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