Turns out, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has a hook, line and sinker for social distancing — fishing. The Commission just announced that March 21-29 will be officially recognized as Free Fishing Week throughout the state, allowing anglers to fish without a license during this time.
The decision comes amidst a climate of steep anxieties related to the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Across the state, preventative closures of schools, restaurants and even church services have pushed many Arkansans into impromptu isolation. AGFC wanted to remain mindful of the benefits of such social distancing measures, but also find a way that it could provide an outlet for the people of the Natural State.
“Arkansans need some relief and need something to look forward to during this time,” says Pat Fitts, director of AGFC. “They need some quality of life and safe time outdoors with their families. We know that many Arkansas families are making wise decisions to alter their spring break plans to move away from very crowded areas, and we want to make it an easy option for them to get outdoors … We know that spending time outdoors is great for mental and physical health, and there’s no better time to implement that than right now.”
Even still, it is important for individuals to remain just as mindful. This is not permission to open the floodgates of social activity without caution. Fortunately, fishing is an activity that is well suited for social distancing, if done properly. (Some anglers might even say that isolation is key to a good fishing adventure.) Stay up to date on the current guidances and protocols from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Arkansas Department of Health.
So, practice some social distancing in the great outdoors — pack up the old tackle box, spool your rod and reel, and go slay some slobs (with limited company).