Some northern Ontario boat launches are closed, but fishing season expected to open on time

Going fishing is on the list of reasons to leave the house during the pandemic shutdown.

The provincial government says fishing season will open as usual next month.

Anglers are being encouraged to follow physical distancing rules and stay two metres apart from others.

“So what we’ve been telling people is if you can fish as local as possible, don’t make any stops to and from your fishing location and only fish with members of your household,” says Lauren Tonelli, a resource management specialist with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. 

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources says it is asking anyone going out fishing to check on local health regulations and restrictions.

Finding a spot to drop a line in might be tough in some corners of northern Ontario.

Greater Sudbury has decided to close all of its boat launches to try to prevent people from gathering together and potentially spreading COVID-19.

West Nipissing is keeping most of its boat launches open, but municipal staff say it’s only so the owners of water-access cottages can check on their properties and are encouraging them not to stay overnight.

Town staff told council Tuesday night that they don’t see fishing or pleasure boating as “essential.”

But West Nipissing councillor and avid fisherman Yvon Duhaime is hoping that locals will still get a chance to go fishing during the pandemic shutdown. 

“No different than gardening. It’s a good approach to get people out to relax and get the stress relief,” he says.

“How can you spread the virus if you’re alone in a boat?”

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