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COMMENTS BY KIM: Fishing, camping and COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has been pretty much kept at bay here in North Dakota. I guess social distancing paid off. No matter what your views on the matter, there’s no arguing that the lasting effects are enormous.

The North Dakota State Fair, county fairs, festivals and more have understandably chosen to cancel their events for this year. Popular fishing tournaments have done the same. There will be no Governor’s Walleye Cup at Garrison or Chamber of Commerce tourney in Devils Lake. Many smaller fishing tourneys have canceled too.

A few fishing tournaments are still on the calendar but with major adjustments, such as holding virtual rules meetings rather than banquet-type gatherings. The Beulah Chamber of Commerce Dakota Walleye Classic, annually held the week following the Governor’s Cup, is still a go for July 24-25.

The Dakota Walleye Classic committee met this past week and discussed whether or not to proceed with their tournament. They made the decision to re-evaluate their situation in late June. For now though, the Dakota Walleye Classic is planning on being held with modifications in place to comply with current social distancing guidelines and recommendations against large gatherings.

The field for the Dakota Walleye Classic is 180 2-man teams, making it smaller than the 250 team Governor’s Cup. The Walleye Classic committee will wait until late next month to see what guidelines will be in place as the tournament date draws near.

State Parks have been seeing an increase in camping as the weather warms and the concern over coronavirus eases up a bit. Fish cleaning stations will be opening up on June 1, with a few precautions in place.

With several major fishing tournaments called off for this year, maybe more fishermen will revisit fishing for pleasure and fun. No doubt though, some will miss the competitive time on the water mixing it up with other top anglers. And what about Canada?

The United States/Canadian border closure has been extended until June 21. Thousands of fishermen look forward to fishing Canadian waters every year with a great number of those trips scheduled in June. Not this year. Not yet anyway. The fishing lodge and float plane charter business is in for a huge financial hit north of the border. Who knows when all this will change. Let’s hope soon.

This is, without question, the unforgettable year of coronavirus. About 45 days ago I rather stupidly thought when this COVID-19 business came to an end that we would rebound rather quickly. I don’t think that anymore, especially with the loss of so many events that have big financial impact on communities. Where will those dollars be spent? We’ll see what happens.

A good thing is that the outdoors is still the outdoors, and there’s ample opportunities to get away from face masks and crowds of every size. I’ve already heard several people talk about how cool it has been to hike or bike or do just about anything outside with their families. Nothing wrong with that.

I think fishing and camping and picnicking will be huge this summer. If there’s any good to come out of this coronavirus pandemic, maybe it will be a renewed interest in all things outdoors.

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