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Fishing rebounds as pandemic limits activities

By John Seelmeyer
Published: Last Updated on

Thousands of Nevadans have decided to wait out the pandemic with a fishing pole in their hands.

By mid-July, the Nevada Department of Wildlife had sold more than 126,000 fishing licenses this year — a whopping increase of 21% over last year.

Jack Robb, deputy director of the Department of Wildlife, said the growth rate was particularly strong in sales of youth fishing licenses. They’re up more than 31% this year.

The reason, he said, isn’t hard to find.

“Families aren’t going to Little League games. They’re not going to soccer practice. They’re not going to Hawaii on vacation,” he said.

Ainsleigh Harfigan
Ainsleigh Harfigan caught her first fish at Free Fishing Day at Sparks Marina in 2018. Image: Ty O’Neil

The strong interest in angling, especially among youngsters, is good news for the Department of Wildlife and the recreational fishing industry.

“We’re recruiting new anglers and younger anglers, which is critical to us going forward,” said Robb.

Stores that specialize in fishing gear are feeling the benefit.

“We definitely are seeing an increase in interest from beginners and folks who have not pursued fly fishing in a while,” said Jim Litchfield, owner of Reno Fly Shop. “It is a great opportunity for locals and visitors to enjoy great resources close to home in our region.”

He said spring and summer always are busy times at Reno Fly Shop, and anglers already were enthused after several years of good winter snows that filled streams and reservoirs.

But the business got an additional boost when Gov. Steve Sisolak lifted pandemic restrictions and cleared the way for folks to reduce stress and have some fun while fishing.

The shop also offers guide service to newcomers and visitors to the region, and Litchfield said guides got busy again once they sorted through the health and safety requirements in Nevada as well as neighboring California.

“We view fly fishing as entertainment and want to pursue it with respect for all involved — guests, guides, fish and the environment,” he said.

Rising interest in fishing isn’t limited to northern Nevada, reports the company that owns more than 175 Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s stores across the country.

“With many traditional summer activities cancelled or severely restricted, Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops is seeing unprecedented interest in families returning to nature where they can safely practice social distancing in activities like fishing, hiking, camping and boating,” said a company spokesman.

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