What is happening with the 2020 Trout Season and Season Opener, and what are your plans?
This is what lot of folks have been asking us over the past few weeks and a question that is on a vast number of anglers' minds.
While reading the following you must keep in mind that the entire province remains in a state of emergency, and as far as we know, every township, every county, and every municipality that has declared a state of emergency remains in one as well. The next point to keep in mind is that the opening of trout season in Ontario does not change the status of the state of emergency whatsoever, it does not change that for anyone.
What we have been asked to do by health experts, and the government, is to stay at home and restrict all non-essential travel during this pandemic and state of emergency.
We all have the choice of when to begin our trout season, this coming April 25th is just the date that restrictions are lifted.
It is up to you to choose when you start your own season after that.
The following may also sound quite dire to come, but there is hope and good news! We’ll save that for towards the end, we need to leave this on a hopeful and good note.
We deeply debated if we should release a public statement regarding a day we have so very looked forward to for months, upon months... upon months and the impact that Covid-19 will have upon it. The reason why we debated not issuing a statement is that the messaging from every authority, every credible health expert, and every government source is to stay at home and to only travel if it is imperative. Their words and requests are incredibly clear, absolutely 100% crystal clear and not open to interpretation.
In the past week there was also a statement from the Premier of Ontario that the fishing seasons will continue as planned. Unfortunately for many anglers this statement turned their water very muddy, it seemed to many that the premier has said “Go at it folks, throw caution to the wind, have fun, go fishing!”.
Just after that was released a tremendous number of anglers we talked to on the phone, or exchanged emails with, were talking to us about their plans for opener. They were telling us about where they were planning on traveling to, where they planned to access water, and asked us for recommendations on where to go. They were not planning to stay home.
We then realized what happened, many anglers misinterpreted his words and assumed that the Premier just gave anglers a free pass to anglers, that the measures that are in place to keep everyone safe during this state of emergency are no longer for them.
But, the reality is that nothing has changed - we remain in a state of emergency and everything that has been asked of us, to protect others and ourselves, is still in play and it trumps absolutely everything else. This includes our deep desire to head to our local rivers, streams, creeks, and lakes and start our own seasons this coming April 25th.
Anglers are not the exception.
To say that breaks our hearts, not just yours. We live and breathe fishing every minute of every day, it is our hobby, our passion, and it is our lively hoods. It is also how we raise money for different organizations that make your fishing better. Fishing truly encompasses every part of our lives. When we're at work we are talking and thinking about fishing, we handle vast amounts gear on a daily basis, when we’re at home we’re tying flies and we are still talking about fishing, on our days off we’re on the water, when we plan vacations… yes.. fishing, when we dream.. you got it… fishing, every minute of every day is about fishing. We've been cooped up as long as you have and we get it, we want to run wild on our favourite rivers as much, if not more, than you.
But, we are still being asked to stay at home, we are still being asked to limit non-essential travel, we are still being asked to social distance, we are still being asked to self isolate if we are not feeling well or ill, and we are being asked to make the best decisions to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and the most vulnerable in our society.
First and foremost you are being asked to stay at home because of the severely negative impact you can have on others, this also includes our front line medical staff. That accident you may have going to and from your access point on the river, first responders and front line medical staff are who you are putting at risk, and extremely valuable personal protective equipment and medical resources will be used on you.
Second, if you take the risk to head to the river you are going to find mass closures of your usual, and “secret", access points. The list of areas that are now closed to everyone for all purposes, including fishing access, is growing hour by hour. Those areas you know, and ones you may try to find, will most likely be taped or marked off, entry will be prohibited for any and all purposes even if it is just to walk through and get to the water. Even the parking around these areas may be prohibited and your vehicle will get towed without any warning. We have had very credible reports of walker’s and hiker’s vehicles being towed away from the Forks of The Credit Road where many anglers will be looking to park very soon. This has been echoed far across Southern Ontario. Here is a link to where you can find the best compiled list of closures that we know of, please keep in mind there could be more as the situation is changing rapidly. You will find that it is a huge list, every area is responding to the opening of trout season knowing that people from out of their geographical area will try and descend upon theirs, potentially bringing the virus and the harm associated with it to near their community, their homes, families, their loved ones, and their vulnerable. They know this will hurt them in terms of tourist dollars, and maybe even popularity, but they know the risks and great suffering that you can bring them, they are asking you to stay away.
It is ultimately your choice, and your decision on what to do is completely in your hands. If you still choose to enter closed areas you will get fined very, very, very heavily. If you park in a now forbidden area and get towed, it will cost you a very large amount of money to reclaim your vehicle and pay the associated ticket on top of that. If you choose to trespass on private property, you have to assume that any landowner does not want you there especially at this time, and you will receive a heavy fine as well.
When, not if, you get caught and you receive your ticket don’t be surprised that a single ticket is the equivalent of an extremely good fly rod. If you receive the full array of tickets that you can receive at this time that have been put in place to prevent anyone from traveling and accessing where they are not supposed to, which the O.P.P. and MNRF will not be holding back on, you could have easily bought yourself an entire new fly fishing outfit - waders, boots, rod, reel, line, leader, tippet, flies… all of it, every last piece. Or, you could have even taken that money and donated it to a number of causes that improve fish habitat, which will only add to your angling experience. Yet, it is now payable in fines to the provincial government, what an absolute tragic loss of your hard earned money, it could have been better used in so many ways.
We don’t want to berate you with dire warnings of the consequences for choosing to leave your home on the morning of April 25th, but we need to make sure that you are informed of what you may be heading in to with as clear a picture as possible. While the water may seem muddy around this issue it is, in fact, crystal clear - we all still need to stay home, nothing has changed. Please make a good decision not just for yourself, but for everyone surrounding you as well - you are not alone in this.
Our decision is made, Chris and I, the only two active remaining staff at Drift Outfitters have chosen to stay off the water on April 25th and for the days, and weeks after. We will be tying flies, organizing our fly boxes, cleaning our fly lines, purging old leaders and tippet, and making sure that our gear is ready to go the moment we get the go-ahead from health experts, and the provincial government, that we can safely travel, the access points we normally use are free and clear of any closures, and the community that surrounds them wants us there.
This may be tough to read, it sure as heck was tough to write, but there are great things to look forward to, and great news!
We will get back to what we love to do, we will once again find ourselves on the water. This won't last forever! It is sounding like it may only be weeks before some of the measures in place will be alleviated, but that is only if everyone still complies and does not take unneeded risks.
The gear you have won't go bad or expire any time soon; it will still be there when you need it.
The time we have to tie flies, organize, research, and mentally prepare for our return to the water is time well spent! Learning and gear prep is a seriously underrated aspect of fly fishing, if you’re a gear hound you know exactly what we’re talking about!
This is a great time to learn to tie those knots that have been giving you issue with confidence! We have instructional videos available for the most common knots used available for you to view!
We have compiled an excellent list of fly patterns for you to view online, if you’re a fly tyer or looking to get into it, this is for you!
Here is the link to our fly tying recipe page -
Our YouTube channel also a great resource, it was only recently launched and we are adding to it when we get a chance. This is where you will find the knot tying videos.
Here is the link to your YouTube page -
You can even take the time now and find that pesky leak in your waders! We have piles of repair kits in the shop and Simms has an incredibly helpful video of the process on their website. Don’t forget to renew the DWR coating on your waders and rain shells – don’t waste this time!
We know this statement is going to ruffle a few hackles, it is not what many folks want to hear, you may be angry or disappointed with us. If you are, please consider your response before a reply, maybe take a few minutes and cool down before you do. We have been a very vocal fly shop since day one and we have put ourselves out there far more than most addressing controversial topics, and we have made a few folks angry, and maybe even lost customers - but we have a platform, people look to us for guidance, and direction, and if we don’t use it it would a lost opportunity to get the right message out.
Any comments that are attacking, misleading, uninformed, or are solely negative will not be entertained, they are not helpful to anyone. We also understand that everyone’s viewpoint differs, but what does not differ is what is being asked of us at this time. We are being asked to stay home.
Please be advised that we are not recommending any areas for people to fish at this time as we cannot guarantee that they are open or safe with changing status of closures.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that our entire fishing season will not be compromised, there is a lot to look forward to, there is a lot of time, and there is a lot of hope!
We hope that this message finds everyone well, and you are taking care of yourselves, family, and friends a this time.
Rob & Chris from Drift Outfitters