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Enjoying the outdoors

Get out and get away

Krista McIntyre, Minot, shows off a salmon caught from shore at the Garrison Dam Tailrace. The photograph was taken March 22. Kim Fundingsland/MDN

The threat of contacting coronavirus has affected lives in many ways the past several days, including staying at home as much as possible and “social distancing” from others. However, it’s also a perfect time to get outdoors and put a big dent in cabin fever.

This past Sunday there were plenty of people who chose outdoor activities as a way to break away from their coronavirus concerns. To be sure, they were still following the six-foot rule for social distancing, but they were obviously enjoying themselves. At the Garrison Dam Tailrace many smiles were seen and laughter was heard.

Among those casting lures from the shores of the Missouri River in the Tailrace boat ramp area was Krista McIntyre of Minot. She had two very impressive salmon tucked into a cooler a short distance from where she was fishing.

When asked about being outdoors in the midst of the coronavius pandemic her answer came quickly.

“Actually, it’s very peaceful. It’s a time to relax and forget about all this jazz going on around us,” said McIntyre with a wide smile. “We’ve spotted an eagle, breathing fresh air, and having fresh thoughts. Good stuff!”

Others fishing along the shore echoed what McIntyre was experiencing. The parking area was filling with boat trailers as others could be seen fishing in their boats, some a short distance from the boat ramp, others much farther down river.

Mike Drader, Pick City, enjoyed a morning of fishing with his dog, Mokey. At mid-morning during near perfect weather he was moving to a different location.

“This coronavirus stuff won’t slow me down,” said Drader. “I fish walleye every day. I catch walleye every day. You’ve got to get out.”

Talk among those coming off the water and those about to launch their boats consisted mainly of “how’s fishing?” Really, though, it was conversation between those who were taking advantage of nice weather and a perfect opportunity to be outside and away from the constant barrage of coronavirus concerns dominating everything from television to social media.

The fishing reports were the usual, some fishermen reporting great catches and others offering much more subdued results. What was evident, though, is that spring was in the air and very much on the minds of North Dakotans who know how to enjoy the outdoors.

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department in encouraging sportsmen all across the state to remember the importance of avoiding crowds during the COVID-19 pandemic, but reminds everyone that this is also a terrific time to get outdoors. Perhaps take a family hike on one of the department’s 229 wildlife management areas.

Other things to do, says the Game and Fish, is to use free time to take the state’s boating safety course, a requirement for youth ages 12-15 who want to operate personal watercraft of a boat with at least a 10 horsepower motor. Parents are encouraged to take the course too. It may even result in reduced insurance rates. Also, new fishing licenses are needed as of April 1.

Many Game and Fish related activities have been changed due to coronavirus. Some late season ice fishing tournaments were canceled as well as the Archery in the Schools state shoot that was to have been held in Minot. Other cancellations and postponements include several hunter education classes. Updated status on those classes can be found on the department’s website.

All NDG&F offices are currently closed to the public, including the main headquarters in Bismarck at least until April 6. However, the main telephone line at Game and Fish is being staffed. District game wardens are still conducting their daily patrols.

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