HUDSON — For anglers and boaters around these parts, fishing has always been a great way to get away from it all, and that may just make it one of the very best activities during a virus outbreak.
By all indications, boaters are on the water, enjoying the fresh air, even as others have had to put their hobbies, regular activities or entertainment schedules on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. Pasco County officials have facilitated boating by keeping ramps open.
While county beaches are closed to reduce the possibility of people clustering, the day use of open spaces at county parks as of this week is still allowed. The boat ramps at Anclote River Park and Robert J. Strickland Memorial Park, at Hudson Beach, are open, said Brendan Fitterer, Pasco County public information officer, who added boaters can check the Pasco County website for the latest closure information. The closures link is at the top of the page at www.pascocountyfl.net.
While many businesses have seen their foot traffic dwindle, Joe Reilly, at One Stop Bait & Tackle, in Port Richey, said the shop he runs with his brother, John, has seen a bump in shoppers,
“There’s nothing else to do and this (fishing) is a way to get out a do something and get away from people,” said Reilly. “It’s actually a little busier right now.”
Reilly said spring break time usually is a busy time, but now it appears many are off work due to closures and have more free time. They are opting to take advantage by taking to the water.
Larry Johnson, at the Tarpon Trading Company, in Tarpon Springs, said the shop was “slammed throughout the weekend and Monday morning. He suspects with so many businesses closed or cutting back hours, more people are not working and have the time to fish. He fished himself over the weekend, noting lots of boats were on the water the around Anclote Key area. It looked like any other busy weekend, only the park ranger at Anclote Key cleared the beach and told everyone sunning there they had to leave the beach. Anclote Key is a state island park, and subject to the Florida parks closures due to the pandemic.
Johnson said customers have been commenting that they figure fishing is a good option right now.
“They saying it’s the ideal way to get out and get some fresh air and be isolated,” he said.
Movie theaters, dine-in restaurants and social gatherings may have been off the table for Hudson residents, but Port Hudson Marina was very busy over the weekend, according to Pat Flory, who added that the marina continues to operate and will until ordered to shut down.
“We were slammed,” he said of weekend business, as boaters opted to get out on the water to enjoy what he suspects most consider one of the “safer activities” they can engage in now.
Flory said the marina has adjusted a bit due to the virus concerns, but continues to launch boats and sell gas.
“We’re taking it day by day,” he said. “We’ve taken a few measures, like we shut the front door of the office to cut down on pedestrian traffic.”
Dave Wright, a Hudson resident who was launching his boat at Strickland Memorial Monday, said he was very pleased Pasco has kept the ramps open.
“It’s not easy to find something to do right now,” he said.
His wife, Jackie, said a day of boating and fishing was a way to get out with making contact with the public and tending to their spirits.
“It’s relaxing and a way to get away from all the TV news,” she said.