Anglers welcome fishing opportunity
BELMONT — In the state of Ohio, there are 75 state parks.
And even during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, most of the parks offer several opportunities for visitors to gain fresh air, exercise or simply provide the chance to get out of the house for a few hours as the weather begins to cooperate throughout the Buckeye State.
Governor Mike DeWine has spoken often that the parks — with the exclusion of Hocking Hills in Southeast Ohio — are all open. However, several adjustments have been made by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources inside the parks to do their best to stop the spread of COVID-19 and force people to practice social distancing.
Among the closures inside the park are all lodges, campgrounds, cabins, golf courses, restrooms, shower houses, playgrounds, APV areas, horse camps, and state park marina buildings.
Despite that, still plenty of opportunities remain. Included is fishing, which several area residents, of all ages, were taking advantage of this weekend at Barkcamp State Park, which just provided its annual stocking of trout in the lake.
“Fishing is like a (reprieve) from everything that’s going on,” Bridgeport resident Gary Bowers said. “I’ve only been out (fishing) twice and both were this weekend. I’ve just been staying home, but this is a chance to get out and get some air and just get out of the house.”
Bowers, who is 62, is taking the advice of the governor and other authorities seriously as it pertains to staying home.
“I never thought I would see anything like this (coronavirus) in my lifetime … it’s pretty bad” Bowers continued. “Unfortunately, we’re not done losing people. All you can do is pray and follow guidelines.”
The ability to fish, walk and hike at the parks is also giving the school-aged children an opportunity to recreate and do some family bonding.
Avid fisherman Cameron Wedge, who is a 12 year old at Martins Ferry, is extremely thankful that he’s still able to pursue his favorite hobby.
“This is what I love to do,” Wedge said. “I went (on Friday) out to Buckeye Lake (near Newark) to fish. This is really all we can do while we’re in the quarantine, so if we don’t come out here, I am just stuck in the house doing nothing. I am definitely glad we can still fish.”
The chance to get to the parks was also something for couples to enjoy. Dave Eddy, of St. Clairsville, spent some time at the pond because it was recently stocked. He was joined by his wife and their dog.
“I’ve been here the past few days (fishing) and it’s definitely something to do (during this COVID-19),” Eddy said. “I think there are so many people here because this is the time of the year when they stock this lake.”
Eddy admitted that “life sure has changed” since the COVID-19 outbreak, but the fact that DeWine has encouraged folks to get outside to walk and even fish was exciting.
“It’s tough because this coronavirus is limiting a lot of things for a lot of people,” Eddy said.
While the fish are biting all over Ohio, anglers are reminded that a fishing license is still required. A one-year license for an adult Ohio resident is $25 and it’s good for 365 days from purchase.
ODNR spokesman David Roorbach pointed out that while parks are open and visits are encouraged, social distancing is still expected.
“There aren’t any specific restrictions on fishing other than the requirements to avoid gatherings,” Roorbach said. “It’s also important to use common sense. If a parking lot is full, you should come back later or choose a different destination.”
Other state parks in the immediate area include: Jefferson Lake State Park, Salt Fork and Wolf Run.