Probably the best way to describe everyone’s current situation in the least amount of words possible.
Unless you are living in a cave, Covid-19 has rocked everyone’s world the past few weeks. Or possibly months, depending on where you are reading this from. The fears and possible reality of most of the planet catching the same virus, the stock market plummeting, businesses going under, more patients than hospital beds and respirators, and the loss of loved ones has most people in a full out panic. Five minutes scrolling through Facebook is enough to make you sick, before you even get sick.
The newest buzzword, #socialdistance is our best weapon against the spread of the virus until we have a treatment or a vaccine.
For most of us business owners, the first thing that comes to mind after the concern for the health of family, friends and community, is the question of how it will affect our businesses. Some mom and pop businesses will not survive this pandemic, and it’s a terribly sad thing. A lot will survive, but have a big hole to dig out of for years to come. And a very small percentage will find something positive out of the negative and become stronger for it.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how this pandemic will affect our industry. I believe it will affect all of us in varying amounts depending on our ties to the sport.
The average angler is going to spend a lot more time on local waters. Travel may come to a standstill but luckily there is plenty of local water nearby for most. Spend some more time figuring out your local trout stream. Heck, even the local runoff ponds usually offer a never-ending supply of bluegill willing to eat a fly. Hook up your skiff and pole the waters of your local flat and harass some redfish.
I love my kids more than anything in the world, but there’s a limit to how many hours we can handle in the house playing Nintendo Switch. So we’re putting in some time hiking to local fishing spots and wetting a line. A breath of fresh air will do you good.
Could things change for the worse and make it harder to get out and spend some time alone on the water? Possibly…but for now, get out there, cast a line, catch a fish (even if it’s not a glamour species), and try to keep from losing your mind.
And if you get quarantined at home for a few weeks, start tying. You’ll need plenty of flies after this thing passes. And it will pass.
The fishing guide/fishing lodge. Anyone who provides the service of taking anglers fishing is hurting right now, especially those in the travel industry. Along with running Mauser Fly Fishing, I am also a saltwater flats fishing guide, and our industry is suffering. Even the local fishing guides are losing charters left and right because of the pandemic. Usually mother nature is our biggest factor in booking trips, so this is something we’ve never dealt with. We love this sport and we’ll do whatever it takes to make it through this, work part time jobs, empty savings accounts, etc.
The travel industry is hurting at a much higher level than local fishing guides. International travel has come to a standstill, just as most destination locations are beginning their fishing seasons. I’m praying for those lodges and guides as they rely heavily on the spring season for their survival.
The best thing you can do right now for your favorite guide is buy a gift certificate from them for a future time. If you have a lodge or a guide that can’t book now due to travel restrictions, plan to set up a trip as soon as things get back to normal.
Retailers. Your local fly shop is going to be hurt by this pandemic too. Social distancing is smart, but it is restricting the amount of people going out shopping, and that will greatly reduce foot traffic in shops.
Just like in guiding, fly shops are entering the beginning of the fishing season in most areas, so timing couldn’t be worse. The first thing I would do, if I couldn’t support my local fly shop in person, is see if they have an ecommerce site you can purchase from. And if not, give them a call and see if they are willing to ship you your order.
As a manufacturer that relies heavily on ecommerce, sales are not as big of a concern for us as it would be for a fly shop. That being said, my biggest concern for us is slowed production due to the pandemic and not being able to keep products in stock.
I pray that we can flatten the curve on this pandemic, minimize the amount of sick people, get through it as quick as possible, and move on to better times. And while we are limited on how much of our normal routine we can do, maybe we can focus the extra time on helping our friends and neighbors the best way we can. Together, we’ll all get through this mess.
If there is anything we can do to help you in the coming weeks and months, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. I really believe that if you do good things for others, it will come back around to you in the long run. Stay positive everyone, practice some gratitude, and leave some toilet paper for everyone else…good times are coming!