Well… as predicted, things changed pretty much right after our last update. So I figured I would do my best to bring everyone up to speed again, as to where we are at with all things Covid-19, as it pertains to fly fishing the Texas Coast. So let’s see how I do this time.
From my last report on these issues, we were starting to see some closures on the Texas Coast, but we were still allowed to operate as guides. That hammer finally fell no more than 48 hours after I posted that. The Governor declared a Shelter-in-Place order for the entire state of Texas. In this declaration, all non-essential businesses were forced to shut down. Sadly, that includes ALL guides in the state of Texas.
So Fly Fish Rockport, and all other guides in the state of Texas, are now forced to sit and wait for things to settle a bit. As of right now, this order extends through the 24th of April. But, we have been warned that we should plan on this continuing throughout the month of May as well. That will make it more than two months without being able to take guests out on the water. Huge bummer.
Also, almost immediately after our last report, there were far more fishing closures and restrictions added as well. Most noticeably in Rockport. All of our marinas and boat ramps are now closed. In addition, fishing piers, jettys, etc. are all also closed to fishing. And, beginning at midnight tonight (April 8th), all State Parks in the state of Texas are closed. So while Goose Island State Park had remained open to boaters, that will now be closed. So this means there are now no ramps open in Rockport. All ramps are currently blocked off and have signs posted. We do not know how long these will remain closed at this time. But you can safely bet it will be at least through the end of April.
The city chose to do this, as have many others, due to the increase in boat traffic. Obviously Shelter-in-Place seems to mean, “shelter-in-Rockport”. So after a huge increase in boater traffic following the shelter orders across the state, they opted to restrict access to the water, in hopes of convincing some folks to stay put wherever they may live. While I do live and work here in Rockport, and would love to be using these marinas right now, I am all for it. Following the initial shelter orders, our town was busier than it was all of Spring Break. So clearly folks weren’t staying home. So this is a step in the right direction, even if it hurts us locals a bit.
On the brighter side, there are a couple of our regularly used marinas still open… for now. Boat ramps in Aransas Pass, Port A and Corpus are all open. But be aware that social distancing is required at all times. So this means…
When you get to the marina in the morning, expect to be greeted by local police officers and a city representative of some sort. This morning, a Code Enforcement Officer was accompanied by two Aransas Pass Police Officers on land, and a police boat on the water. They will look at your boat, and all anglers, and make sure you can remain “socially distanced” within the boat. If you cannot, they have the ability to issue you a ticket. Fines start at $500. Ouch!!! But all that is to say that they are taking things seriously, which I applaud. But with just two of us in the skiff, we had no problems at all launching and getting on with our day.
You will notice the presence of far more law enforcement all over the place these days. Marinas and boat ramps are certainly a focus of theirs. So make sure you have your act together and are obeying all these new rules laid out for us. And don’t forget to be nice to these folks. They don’t want to be dealing with this mess any more than we do. So give ’em a break and be polite when they ask you for a few moments of your time before you put your boat in or out of the water.
With just these few boat ramps open on the coast, it has been pretty busy. The ramps are full every day. Who knows if these cities will see this as a problem or not. If so, we can expect more closures. But hopefully it doesn’t have to come to that. But we are aware that in more populated areas like Austin and Dallas, they had to close access to the water to get people to stay home. So we will see how this plays out down here.
Another measure taken to limit the traffic on the coast, is that all of our area hotels, bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals have been ordered to shut down. So if you are looking for an AirBnB or hotel in the area, you may be out of luck. As a rental property owner, I can tell you that we are directly ordered not to accept ANY reservations at this time. That means anything moving forward. Even if beyond the current shelter order. But for the short term, that means that there really isn’t anywhere for weekend warriors to stay down here right now.
Are you starting to get the drift here??? Shelter-in-Place means stay home, in your city or town. It doesn’t mean hook up the boat and come hang out on the Texas Coast because you have nothing else to do. All of our coastal towns are asking people to stay home and not come to the beach, until this all calms down. And they will continue to close things down for everyone, if this doesn’t happen.
This stay at home stuff has been a real pain in the ass for everyone. Myself included. Of course I, and all of my Fly Fish Rockport fishing guides, are lucky. We live here and are still able to get out on the water for a little fresh air. And we are very thankful to be able to do so, without breaking or stretching any rules. But we would also like to keep it this way. So we are doing what we can to obey the rules and operate as instructed. Hopefully, this will enable us to remain on the water a little bit here and there, so we don’t go completely crazy.
So we will still try to fish some, as we did today. And I will keep the Rockport Fly Fishing Reports coming each and every week for you as well. So while most of you may not be able to come down and get out on the water, you will at least know what’s going on down here. And hopefully there will be some new videos and photos coming as well, to keep those locked down entertained. I will do my best to keep some fresh content coming, as most folks are just looking for anything else to focus on, but the news these days.
So, sadly, we are not able to guide here for the foreseeable future. Which really sucks. But, it is the best thing right now. And we really don’t have a choice. But we are still booking trips for dates down the road. Nothing in April will be booked. But we are holding out hope that we might be able to guide during the month of May. So we are allowing folks to reserve dates in May, without deposits at this time. As things continue to evolve, we will roll with the punches and continue to figure it out.
We want to be on the water as much as everyone else does. So we will do whatever we can to help make that happen for you. So if you are interested in fly fishing in Rockport, Texas or the surrounding area, please feel free to contact me any time.
We are also offering a Coronavirus Special down here, to help out. We know many are suffering financially due to all this. We are too. So drop me a note if you are looking for some upcoming dates and we will make it happen for you. And of course if anyone has any other questions about anything going on down here on the Coast, please hit me up anytime. Happy to help where I can and try to point you in the right direction.
I wish everyone continued health. Be respectful of the rules, as they are there for all of our benefit. And be respectful of others around you.
Capt. Jeff Johnson
Owner Fly Fish Rockport
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