Two weeks ago we asked in our Angling Trade E-survey if your business had been affected by the Coronavirus. It wasn’t a labeled “pandemic” at that point, and most of the respondents indicated that they hadn’t been impacted yet, but they were concerned. Turns out they were right. My how the worm has turned. Safe to say we’re all feeling the impacts now. In fly fishing, the effects span from cancellations of film tours, manufacturers shutting down operations, consumer shows like the Texas Fly Fishing & Brew Festival and Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo being called off at the last minute, and more. The markets are falling, bars and restaurants are closed, travel in most forms is becoming an very distant afterthought, and we’re still told that things will get worse before they get better.
If there’s any light at the end of the tunnel for those of us in fly fishing, it is that fly fishing is by its very definition an almost ideal form of “social distancing.” One of the few things that people will be able to do outdoors in coming weeks is fish! I’m planning on hitting the river, buying flies, buying other gear and all that in the near future. I’m just going to do it differently. I’m probably going to watch more fly-fishing videos than ever before… I’m just going to do that at home on my computer. We have ways and means to make adjustments and get through this pandemic as an industry, and we’re a lot more fortunate where we sit than others (like food and beverage, theaters, etc.). We’re all going to take the punch, one way or another, and at the end of the day, your health and the well-being of your friends and loved ones are paramount. But we can get through this as an industry better by working together.
In that light, Angling Trade wants to make one nuanced suggestion—If your customers are getting out to fish, great. But do not get in the habit of encouraging people to come visit you in your rural community, even if there is little or no virus in your region (yet), and even if it would be a boost to your business at a time when you need it. We’re seeing a lot of messaging like this on social media and elsewhere right now. We get it. But we think that’s dangerous. What some might not understand that bringing people from impacted areas to smaller, much more rural areas is a recipe for disaster, because your small community probably doesn’t have the health care infrastructure to handle anything like this virus.
So fishing as social distancing and keeping our sanity in all of this… fantastic. Inviting people to travel to small communities for the sake of fishing, probably not cool. Not yet. Let’s play for the big picture, help each other, ride it out, work it out, and do our parts. Stay as well as you can…
-The Angling Trade Editors