IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Idaho fishing license data shows that resident fishing participation is up nearly 32 percent statewide compared to last year as newcomers get hooked on the activity. That’s 1 in 11 new Idaho residents getting out and going fishing.
Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, Vice President of Communications, Stephanie Vatalro said this increase may be due to the fact that fishing is an easy, fun, and accessible way to bond with friends and family during the pandemic.
“One of the things that most people don’t realize when they buy their fishing license and buy equipment is that you’re actually giving back to conservation of those waterways that you’re fishing in," Vatalro said. "There’s a tax on the tackle and your licence fees, 100 percent of them go back to the state to do things like waterway cleanup, fish habitats, and boat ramp repairs. So it’s really like you’re giving back to the environment everytime you go fishing.”
Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation is a national nonprofit whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating--thereby protecting and restoring the nation's aquatic natural resources.
Get On Board is one of their new initiatives highlighting the mental health benefits of fishing and boating while social distancing.
“Fishing is perfect for social distancing," Vatalro said. "In fact, when you’re fishing, you don’t want to be too close to your neighbor, you’ll get your lines tangled up. You could hold a fishing rod out and that’s your six feet right there. So it really makes for a good social distancing activity.”
Fishing fits in with the psychiatric views of the 4 Ms of mental health:
Mindfulness-due to the quiet, calm, and grounding effect of being in nature.
Movement-you don’t have to be physically fit to fish.
Mastery-learning a new skill helps you focus on something other than everyday stress due to the pandemic and life in general.
And meaningful engagement- “Between those catches, you’re sitting there with your family or friends or whoever’s in your quarantine group and having meaningful conversations and making memories," Vatalro said.
TakeMeFishing.org features step-by-step guides, how-to videos, and maps to family-friendly fishing areas near you.
“With kids, patience is key and know that fishing may not be the main activity all day and that’s fine," Vatalro said. "Take them on a picnic, bring snacks, bring games, and bring the fishing stuff. And if the fishing is slow and they’re not biting, move to another nature activity.”
You can also find more local information on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game website.