Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and Fishing

Can you go fishing during the current Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic? Yes, with some exceptions depending on which state you fish in.

Most states are encouraging fishermen to spend time on the water, as long as they are being safe and following local regulations and guidelines. After all, what better way to practice ‘social distancing’ while maintaining your mental health than by getting outside and enjoying some fishing?

Here are some basic guidelines for safe fishing during the COVID-19 Crisis:

  • Stay home if you are sick, or showing or feeling any COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, coughing, and/or troubled breathing
  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least six (6) feet of distance between yourself and others. A good way to measure this is with your fishing pole! Hold the pole straight out in front you. If you can turn in a circle without hitting anyone, that is a safe distance.
  • Follow CDC guidelines, such as wearing a mask in public.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash hands often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available
  • Drive to your fishing spots only with your immediate family members and only if everyone is feeling well.
  • Don’t share fishing gear with others. Each angler should have their own fishing gear (rod and reels, bait, lures, towels, pliers, and other personal items).

We’ve gathered the latest information from state agencies in the Northeast. Rules and recommendations are changing daily, but we’ll do our best to keep the information below up to date.

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As of May 7, 2020, fishing is open per current seasons/regulations. Buy your Maine Fishing license online.

New Hampshire

Under Governor Chris Sununu’s Emergency Order #17 on March 26, 2020, outdoor recreation is permitted in the Granite State as long as people take added precautions to practice social distancing. New Hampshire Fish and Game has not made any changes as of yet to seasons and all rules and regulations remain in effect and will be enforced by Conservation Officers.

Fishing, clamming, the use of NH Fish and Game’s Wildlife Management Areas and boat ramps, and wildlife watching are all permitted. Toilet facilities are closed at NH Fish and Game boat ramps until further notice due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Docks will not be installed until the social distancing restrictions are lifted. “Fresh air and being in nature are important for our mental health and people are encouraged to recreate safely, responsibly, and close to home,” said Colonel Kevin Jordan, Chief of Law Enforcement at NH Fish and Game. Buy your New Hampshire Fishing license online.


As of April 21, 2020, under the terms of Gov. Phil Scott’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, Vermonters are encouraged to get outside provided they can do so while meeting social distancing and other guidelines. In addition, to the greatest extent possible, outdoor activities should take place within 10 miles of home to minimize travel and potential risk of exposure to COVID-19. The enforcement order by the Attorney General would not preclude those activities, provided they can take place in ways consistent with the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order. In addition, Gov. Scott has directed out of state visitors to not come to Vermont unless they are part of the essential services exempt from the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Order and, if they do come to Vermont, to self-quarantine for 14 days before engaging in any activity including outdoor recreation.The department’s Fishing Access Areas are open 24/7 as they always have been, but the public is reminded to practice safe social distancing and only recreate with people that you have been self-quarantining with.

According to Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Shawn Good, “The times we’re facing right now have had a deep impact on our work, school and social lives, but fishing has long been viewed as an effective stress-reliever. Any time spent outside reconnecting with nature has been proven to benefit our health in many ways.” Buy your Vermont Fishing License online.


On Ma 18, 2020, Massachusetts announced that charter fishing can resume on May 25.

On April 27, 2020, Massachusetts announced recreational boating guidelines that allow recreational boating under guidelines such as “Only persons from the same household should be together on a boat at one time.”

All fishing regulations, including licenses, are still in effect during the State of Emergency and Stay at Home Advisory. The revenue generated from license sales goes directly toward conservation, research, stocking, education, and restoration. Outdoor activities, and travel to and from those activities, are still permitted. All residents should practice social distancing by remaining 6 feet away from other people while participating in outdoor activities.  MassWildlife is continuing to stock trout this spring. For the safety of MassWildlife staff, please do not approach staff while they are stocking fish. Don’t share a boat unless it is large enough so that all persons aboard can always remain at a minimum distance of six feet apart. All MassWildilfe Wildlife Management Areas remain open to the public to enjoy for fishing, hunting, walking, birding, and other nature-based activities. MassWildlife encourages the public to visit lesser-known spots and explore the outdoors close to home. Massachusetts Fishing Licenses can be obtained online by visiting the MassFishHunt online portal.

Rhode Island 

On May 4, Rhode Island issued recreational boating guidelines for boating during COVID-19. Boaters are urged to follow safety rules including staying close to home, and boating only with people in your immediate household.

As of April 21, 2020, trout fishing season is open in Rhode Island with restrictions to reduce crowds in line with public health guidance. Also, ponds in State Parks and some other stocked waters are off limits. Due to the current stay at home order, out-of-state anglers should fish in their local state for the time being. Rhode Island fishing licenses can be purchased online.

On April 6, 2020, DEM announced that Rhode Island lakes, ponds, rivers and streams are open to fish for trout. To reduce the number of people fishing at any given time and mitigate crowds during the COVID-19 public health crisis, DEM has implemented a system that staggers the days when licensed anglers with trout stamps can fish. Those with last names beginning with A through M can only fish on even numbered calendar days, and those with last names beginning with N through Z can only fish on odd numbered calendar days. (DEM Law Enforcement Officers will use their discretion for family groups – less than five – who routinely fish together, but have different last names.)

On March 31, 2020, DEM announced the temporary closure of Rhode Island state parks and beaches, along with their parking areas, beginning Friday, April 3, until further notice.


Governor Ned Lamont’s Executive Order No. 7PP allows for-hire fishing (party/charter boats) to resume operation on May 20th, subject to a limit of 5 passengers per vessel.On April 18, the governors of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey announced that marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers in their states will be allowed to open for personal use as long as strict social distancing and sanitization protocols are followed. Chartered watercraft services or rentals will not be allowed, and restaurant activity at these sites must be limited to take-out or delivery only.

On March 24, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont issued an Executive Order opening lakes, ponds, rivers and streams to fishing statewide. Opening the fishing season early helps to limit community spread of COVID-19 by eliminating the large crowds that often accompany the traditional Opening Day of fishing in April. During this time of social distancing, fishing should be enjoyed as a solitary experience or with members of your immediate household, not as a group activity. DEEP is encouraging all anglers to follow social distancing practices. Anglers should maintain a distance of at least six feet from others, practice good personal hygiene, and stay home and away from others if you feel sick. If you arrive at a favorite fishing spot and see that crowds are forming, choose a different location, or return another day or time. Anglers are encouraged to purchase 2020 Connecticut fishing licenses online.

New York

In five regions of NY (Central NY, Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier), for-hire fishing vessels and services will be allowed to resume operations beginning May 15.

On April 18, the governors of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey announced that marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers in their states will be allowed to open for personal use as long as strict social distancing and sanitization protocols are followed. Chartered watercraft services or rentals will not be allowed, and restaurant activity at these sites must be limited to take-out or delivery only.

As of March 28, 2020, the NY DEC and State Parks are encouraging responsible recreation during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, they launched a new hashtag – #RecreateLocal – and encouraged New Yorkers to get outside and discover open spaces and parks close to home. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York State is home to some of the most spectacular public lands and parks in the world. In uncertain times, these special places can serve as an oasis from stress, fear, and anxiety.”

On March 24, 2020, Seggos reminded New Yorkers that trout and salmon fishing season opens on Wednesday, April 1. New York’s coldwater lakes and streams offer springtime trout anglers the opportunity to pursue trout in a wide array of settings across the state. Commissioner Seggos said, “Fishing is good for the mind and body. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo continues to invest in ensuring New York’s renowned fisheries remain healthy and productive. While this winter’s mild conditions offered ample opportunities for hardcore or novice trout and salmon anglers to pursue their favorite gamefish on waters open to year-round fishing, springtime remains the main event. Water temperatures are rising, causing trout to feed more aggressively, and present a perfect opportunity for anglers. I encourage all anglers, novice and expert, to get outside and fish, but act responsibly by practicing social distancing and staying safe.”

New Jersey

In an executive order Saturday, May 16, Gov. Phil Murphy cleared the services, including boats that take people on fishing trips, to operate under strict guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including limiting vessel capacity to 10 people and requiring crew and passengers to wear masks.

On April 30, Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order to reopen state parks and forests at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 2, for passive recreation, including fishing and hunting.

On April 18, the governors of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey announced that marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers in their states will be allowed to open for personal use as long as strict social distancing and sanitization protocols are followed. Chartered watercraft services or rentals will not be allowed, and restaurant activity at these sites must be limited to take-out or delivery only.

New Jersey DFW published this poster encouraging safe practices while fishing during the COVID-19 crisis.


Effective 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) opened the statewide 2020 trout season. This measure allows properly licensed anglers and youth to begin fishing for and harvesting trout. All regulations, sizes, and creel limits apply.

To reduce unnecessary travel and social contact amid health concerns, Commission Executive Director Tim Schaeffer signed an emergency order that allows anglers and boaters to display their fishing license, launch permit, or boat registration digitally on a phone or other mobile device as proof of possession. This change will allow customers who may be unable to, or feel uncomfortable visiting a store to purchase a fishing license, launch permit, or boat registration renewal to make the purchase online through The Outdoor Shop.


Delaware’s state parks and wildlife areas have plenty of space for Delawareans to get outside and get some needed fresh air and exercise while maintaining that socially-acceptable distance of six feet or so. And there are no entrance fees until April 30. Out-of-state visitors must self-quarantine for 14 days before engaging in fishing. All Delaware beaches are closed until May 15 or until the public health threat of COVID-19 has been eliminated. Beaches within Cape Henlopen, Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks are closed, except for limited vehicle access to beaches for the purpose of surf fishing for those with a current surf fishing permit. Only fishing from vehicles is allowed. Only two persons from the same household may accompany the vehicle and both persons must be actively fishing at all times. Users must maintain a distance of 20 yards between vehicles on the beach. Parking and fishing at the Indian River Inlet within Delaware Seashore State Park is permitted.


Effective Thursday, May 7, at 7 a.m, recreational fishing activities, including catch-and-release, are allowed, however:

When fishing from a boat, one must be with immediate family members or people with which they reside.
No more than 10 people may be on a boat at one time, including captain and crew.
When fishing from onshore or at a pier, social distancing guidelines must be followed.
DNR fishing piers will reopen immediately.
Fishing tournaments remain prohibited at this time.
All normal rules and regulations regarding fishing are in effect and must be followed, including creel limits, gear restrictions, and seasons.

For information on fishing and the coronavirus crisis in other states, visit the COVID-19 and Fishing page setup by Keep America Fishing.

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