Opinion

The Water is Open: Get Your Fishing and Boating On

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Posted: Jun 05, 2020 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
The Water is Open: Get Your Fishing and Boating On

Source: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

The water is open. What are you waiting for? It’s time to go fishing and boating.

The sound of water induces relaxation and makes one feel at ease. Studies also show adopting a “blue mind” state of mind through activities like boating and fishing—a theory popularized by marine biologist and bestselling author Dr. Wallace H. Nichols—rests our brains and appeals to our senses while enabling awe, wonder and happiness. It greatly contrasts the “red mind”—or today’s “anxious, over-connected and over-stimulated state” world.

Being on a boat, for instance, resets the human brain, is meditative, awe-inspiring, inspires creativity, and directly appeals to the senses. Fishing equally reduces stress, facilitates social bonding, and is fun. 

Lured-in and interested? Check out and participate in National Fishing and Boating Week

A Renewed Interest in Boating and Fishing

The Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF), a nonprofit organization that works to increase fishing and boating participation, and their Take Me FishingTM campaign put on the event annually. This year, it runs from June 6-14, 2020. 

“We know fishing and boating can be a great activity for Americans to enjoy the outdoors while also practicing safe social distancing and truly believe fishing and boating are the remedy we all need,” the organization said in a news release. 

Despite the pandemic, fishing has experienced newfound popularity across the country. It’s no surprise surges in license sales, especially in states like Minnesota, Georgia, Texas, and North Dakota, were witnessed. 

New and seasoned anglers are invited to attend Free Fishing Days events, purchase licenses, enroll their kids in Angler Academy, watch how-to videos, and discover new fishing holes

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the leading trade association representing boating and marine industry interests, and its public awareness campaign, Discover Boating, are similarly encouraging Americans to employ safe and best boating practices

“Activities like boating that allow families to enjoy the outdoors while social distancing are well positioned to thrive in the days ahead, and data shows the demand to get on the water is high among both current and new boaters,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the trade association. 

“As we approach peak boating season and millions of Americans flock to their favorite waterways, it is critical that everyone does their part to recreate responsibly and ensure we can keep enjoying our cherished pastimes for many more National Fishing and Boating Weeks to come.”

Like fishing, many Americans have taken an interest in boating. In April, their DiscoverBoating.com website saw a 44 percent increase in visitors up from the same time last year. Of those viewers, 87 percent were acquired organically. This also included a 94 percent surge in female visitors. Last month, it saw a 128 percent jump in site sessions. 

It’s All About Conservation

Fishing and boating are not only enjoyable activities, they help fund conservation efforts in this country. 

With every license purchase and corresponding fishing and boating equipment purchases, monies collected go back to conservation efforts through the Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program—first authorized by the Sport Fish Restoration Act, or Dingell-Johnson Act, of 1950. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Director Aurelia Skipwith, in conjunction with President Trump and Interior Secretary Bernardt, has prioritized opening new public lands to America’s sportsmen and women to fish and boat. 

“The Fish and Wildlife Service is proud to actively support fishing and boating through several grants that we administer, including the Sportfish Restoration Fund, Clean Vessel Act and Boating Infrastructure Grant programs,” Skipwith said. 

“It’s one of the highlights of my job to sign the orders distributing these funds each year, knowing they result in a real win-win, benefitting both boaters and anglers and our unique wildlife and their habitats.”

“National Fishing and Boating Week comes at a particularly fitting time this year when many areas of the country are opening back up,” Skipwith added. 

“I hope everyone will make the most of this opportunity by taking to the waters of a Service-managed refuge or hatchery. We have lots of events going on around the country. Check out the Service’s website to find out what’s going on near you. Just remember, please recreate responsibly by maintaining an appropriate social distance and following all the guidelines for a healthy and fun outdoor experience.”

An Opportunity to Educate 

Charter captains and advocates believe this event inspires new participants to discover and pass on these traditions. 

Angie Scott of Angie Scott Adventures is excited to share her passion for fishing with others. Though COVID-19 delayed her May 1st business launch, she’s putting her captain’s license to good use training new members of Freedom Boat Club Nashville

“We're finding that with sports and other activities being shut down, people are turning to boating and being out on the water,” said Scott. “It's been fun sharing my passion for boating and teaching people how to boat as safely as possible.” 

Travis Thompson owns Gasparilla Charters out of Winter Haven, Florida. To him, this week can help mold aspiring conservationists. 

“Fishing gives us a tactile connection to what’s wild in an increasingly urban world,” said Thompson. “It’s a connection to our past and our future, it’s the [best] entry into conservation, and, most importantly, it’s a lot of fun!”

Angling Women founder Bebe Dalton Harrison plans to teach 10 new anglers how to fish in the Charleston, South Carolina, area. 

“My mission is always to give folks the skills to rig their own rod, bait their own hook, and handle the fish on their own,” said Harrison. “ I want them to have the basic knowledge to be able to teach someone when they leave my class-a neighbor, a sibling, a parent.” 

Conclusion

Sharing fishing and boating with our fellow Americans gives us an opportunity to break bread, develop friendships, bond with our families and keep our conservation traditions alive. 

Tight lines and happy boating, everyone!