The fact that this year has set a new record for fishing license sales has not just resulted in extra money into the state’s coffers, it has translated into the reality of higher use of area lakes, with a significant increase in the number of people angling.

This weird and long-lasting coronavirus issue has prompted more people to use the great outdoors as a great escape from being cooped up at home. Using the lakes and fishing is as good a social isolation activity for individuals, couples, and families as it gets.

The lakes have been as busy all summer as I can ever remember, especially on the weekends. The week days have also had more activity than previous summers.

It is not unusual this summer to pull into a public access at one of the local lakes and have multiple rigs parked in the lot during the mid-week, and lots filled on the weekend.

Many times in past years by the second week of August, we see a decline in the numbers out fishing, as summer vacations wind down, and families get ready to head back to the normal routines for the start of school and fall sports.

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Not so far this year. The numbers continue to stay steady as we are headed for a unique start to the school year. Many more people working from home instead of the offices and businesses provides the opportunity to get out fishing more often.

Unfortunately, increased unemployment is also providing some with more time. Getting out fishing to deal with the stress and distress is a better option than most other choices in dealing with the hard times COVID-19 has created.

The significant increase in the number of licenses for those under the age of 25 years old is encouraging for me to see happen. Getting off the computers, hand held devices, and participating in the “live action video” of fishing will help younger people to reconnect to the benefits of nature.

I believe it enriches our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health to be actively involved in pursuits that bring us closer to nature. Fishing is definitely one of those activities. The increase and explosion of numbers involved that started the last couple of years with high school fishing leagues and trap shooting, are an indication of how important it is to provide opportunities for youth involvement, and how much it makes a difference.

There is an increasing interest that is very encouraging. I think it is also enriching for those adults that take a kid fishing, donate, volunteer, or help with programs for engaging youth involvement in the outdoors (and especially fishing!). Stay at this fishing thing even when covid is over. Remember to clean, drain, and dry after your fishing trip.

(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)