This week marks the start of May, and about seven weeks into enduring life under COVID-19 restrictions, writes Wil Wegman, pictured here in an earlier fishing season.
This Spring, almost all boat launches and private marinas with access to the lake are closed, with no opening date in sight.
All lakeside municipal parks and our three provincial parks are closed. Shore fishing areas along the lake are scarce under normal conditions … but we are living in far from normal times and most have been shut down by the local municipalities. Right now, I would hate to think what the odds would be that by June 27 -- the opening day of bass season and what I consider the ‘single greatest day of the entire year – better than your birthday, Christmas and New Year’s all wrapped in one’ -- that we’d be out fishing one of the finest trophy bass lakes on the planet.
This Spring, I’m resigned to missing out on the lake’s amazing early Spring perch fishery, as are all those who would have participated in the 40th Annual Orillia Perch Festival, which did not run this year. The chances of fishing Simcoe’s biggest multi-species opener when lake trout, whitefish, cisco walleye, and pike open on the second Saturday in May, appear far-fetched right now at best, although many remain hopeful.
Right now, I am listening to the Fan 590’s Outdoor Journal Radio Show debate on whether fishing across the entire province should be closed right down … making it illegal to fish! Some say “Staying Home” for everything but essential, sanctioned activities such as grocery shopping does not include fulfilling a desire to go fish.
Others are promoting a closure of congested fishing areas but say that fishing is fine if physical distancing and other standard COVID-19 measures are practised.
The provincial government has deemed it OK for liquor and beer shops to remain open as essential services. They are expecting anyone visiting those shops to maintain physical distancing and other COVID-19 measures.
Why then can we not acknowledge the same for those who are hooked on fishing and see it as their medicinal saviour and essential to their well-being?
It seems the government has, by refusing at this stage to ban the activity. Yet we are still hearing the Stay at Home message over and over again by government and health officials.
You can only imagine the dichotomy of opinions on the subject within the tightly knit angling community and my greatest fear right now is that it spreads divisiveness and disdain for one another. Therefore … I hope between now and opening of bass season on Lake Simcoe – in fact well beyond that, we do not judge our fellow law-abiding anglers on their personal decision whether to fish or not to fish
Today, I’ll voluntarily give up fishing until we get clearer direction between the "stay at home" and “still legal to fish” messaging. I need to sustain my own mental health by remaining hopeful!
The glimmer of hope that I can return to Lake Simcoe may have to sustain me for the next two months, but there could be a light at the end of the tunnel -- my favourite day of the year, the opening of bass season!
Article and photo by Wil Wegman
Wil Wegman, winner of many fishing and writing awards including a 2017 National Recreational Fisheries Award, has been writing Lake Simcoe Living's Hooked on Fishing column since Day One. His website is wilwegman.com