Fishing is a fantastic outlet for those going bonkers from being cooped up during this Covid-19 thingy.

Recreational anglers are allowed to hit the water with family and friends with little to no restrictions other than trying to stay six feet apart.

But because of a non-essential classification by Virginia’s Covid-19 Business Task Force, charter captains are not allowed to take paying customers out to catch fish.

Heck, anglers who have book trips with Outer Banks captains can’t even make it far enough south to get on the boat.

Frustrated as they wait for an opening, members of the Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Association have started a petition on change.org to persuade the governor to allow the business to crank up.

Charter captains make a great deal of their annual income during the warmest times of the year and the ban on trips is resulting in tons of cancellations during their peak times.

Blame uncertainty. Blame a lack of direction from officials.

“We can follow guidelines, just give us some,” said Mike Avery, a Norfolk teacher and owner of Seaduction Charters. “Recreational anglers can go fishing with whoever they want whenever they want, but we’re completely shut down.

“That’s what is frustrating.”

In just a day, the petition had more than 1,000 signatures and was sent to the Department of Natural Resources for consideration.

Charter captains have questioned their status since the governor’s office presented its list of non-essential businesses and have wondered why the Virginia Marine Resources Commission hasn’t done the same.

Steve Bowman, head the the VMRC, makes no bones about how painful the situation is, but wants captains to understand that his department has to adhere to the governor’s guidelines.

He has read the association’s petition.

“Their suggestions seem to be in line with CDC recommendations and they’re right on track to get their message out,” he said. “Closing the charter industry is painful for the economy and to those of us participating in the decisions.

“None of this is easy or fun.”

Bowman said his marine police department is holding recreational anglers accountable, as well, although no arrests have been made.

“From out point of view, the social distancing guidelines are for everybody,” he said. “If two guys in a boat aren’t doing things the right way, unless they are family members or live together, our guys are going to do what they have to do.”

Charter captains are the only ones hurting from the virus.

Commercial fishermen have seen their businesses hurt because most of what they are catching goes to restaurants around the country. And we all are painfully aware of the plight of the restaurant industry.

Yep, these are the strangest of times, for sure. And there is no doubt that lots of people are hurting.

Hopefully, and a lot sooner than later, our captains can get back at what they do best – providing memories of a lifetime and a freezer full of fish.

5 Comments

  • Robert Smith
    Posted April 29, 2020 2:14 pm 0Likes

    Stoked for you with this new venture! Looking forward to whats over the horizon!

  • John Coffren
    Posted April 29, 2020 7:41 pm 0Likes

    Great, informative story. I look forward to reading more.

  • James Ike Eisenhower
    Posted April 29, 2020 11:27 pm 0Likes

    I’m so glad to see what you’re doing now. I knew nobody could keep an old fishing dog like you down. Welcome to retirement and more fishing. With part time work only. As long as it doesn’t interfere with fishing.

  • Mike Ney
    Posted April 30, 2020 11:29 am 0Likes

    Welcome back.. You were missed

  • Tommyt
    Posted May 2, 2020 6:38 am 0Likes

    Good article Lee as always, thanks for sharing 🙂

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