It’s time to get back out on the water.
Doing so safely is priority number one at Cape Cod on the Fly. My job is to get you out and get you back in one piece. We’ll enjoy ourselves and likely catch fish but that won’t be the story we tell if something goes wrong and I am poorly prepared.
This has never been more true.
Per Monday’s reopening announcement by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and the recommendations of the state’s Reopening Advisory Board, for-hire fishing operations like Cape Cod on the Fly are allowed to start boat trips again on Monday, May 25. The state Division of Marine Fisheries has issued an Amended Statement of Permit Conditions to the same effect that includes a link to “Workplace Safety and Reopening Standards for For-Hire Fishing and Charters,” incorporated in the Covid-19 mitigation plan below by reference here.
Cape Cod on the Fly is now booking trips, but doing so in the midst of an ongoing pandemic requires vigilance and a new way of doing business to keep everyone healthy; you, me and our families, especially those most vulnerable to the virus. That being said, there has never been a better time to catch and release the big one and bring home a good story. I won’t call fishing essential but it feels that way sometimes and it’s good for the soul, which could use a little care right about now.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, industry specific guidelines issued by the state, and collaborative efforts with other guides, Cape Cod on the Fly has established the following protocol to reduce risks associated with Covid-19 as much as possible.
Cape Cod on the Fly COVID-19 Mitigation Plan
First, a focus on wading trips. By their nature, shore-based wading trips provide more opportunity to practice social distancing. While the protocol outlined here will generally still apply to wading trips, some aspects of it won’t be as relevant. We will do everything we can to practice social distancing onboard, but if you have any concern about the closer quarters of a 20-foot boat, I encourage you to consider wading as an alternative. I grew up fishing from the shore and continue to focus on providing a quality experience, whether on the boat or waist deep on the flats. Check out a description of all of our services here.
And now, an acronym. I’m not really an acronym guy but I couldn’t help this one when it popped into my head; it is an accurate breakdown of the approach Cape Cod on the Fly is taking to client health and safety concerns in the time of Covid.
Clean: I typically obsess over cleaning the boat before and after each trip. That will continue, with additional measures in light of concerns over Covid-19. Special attention will be paid to handles and common areas clients and the guide might both touch; during a trip such areas will be cleaned on an hourly basis even when it is unclear if they have been touched.
Separate hand sanitizer, clorox wipes and paper towels will be within easy reach for the guide and the clients at all times. The containers for these materials will also be cleaned after each trip.
Clients are strongly encouraged to bring and use their own equipment but we will carry extra gear that will be cleaned thoroughly after each trip, including the removal of tippet material and cleaning of the line with soap and water.
Cape Cod on the Fly continues to be a catch and release operation for striped bass. The interaction, however, between the fish, client and guide will be different. Either the guide or client will handle and release the fish but not both. I’m happy to take photos with my phone and email or text them to clients but will not be handling client phones or any other client belongings.
As always, clients should be on time at the dock. When possible, we’ll use touch and go pickups, and tie up only as needed for as short a time as necessary. Our time at the ramp and dock will be as limited as possible. For more information on requirements for social distancing and other Covid-19 measures at boat ramps, see the state guidance here.
Adapt: The guide and clients will collaboratively adapt to each other’s risk thresholds.
I believe in open and honest communication, and ask the same of clients in discussions about symptoms and reasons to cancel or postpone the trip. If a client is exhibiting symptoms of Covid-19 he or she will not be allowed onboard. If I am exhibiting symptoms, I will not run trips.
I have always enjoyed ensuring my clients’ comfort, including providing water, snacks and a fresh bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, complimentary for the morning trips. That practice is suspended for the foreseeable future and clients will be reminded to bring their own food, water and sunscreen, which will be kept separately from anything the guide brings onboard.
Cape Cod on the Fly is not currently taking deposits in an effort to give clients the ability to postpone or cancel before a trip without worrying about whether they will get their money back. Payment will be collected at the end of the trip. This policy change will be reevaluated and adjusted as needed.
Typically a boat trip with Cape Cod on the Fly is limited to three passengers to allow fly fishers room to cast. I am now limiting trips to two passengers to maintain social distance whenever possible.
These protocols may change based on local, state or federal regulations or guidance.
Science: I believe in fact-based decision-making. That is true when it comes to Covid-19 and relaunching Cape Cod on the Fly.
Cape Cod on the Fly will follow local, state and federal regulations, guidelines and emergency orders, and follow the recommendations of credible healthcare professionals.
As previously mentioned, Cape Cod on the Fly will adhere to the state’s standards for for-hire fishing and charters. Specifically, social distancing of at least 6 feet between guide and clients will be maintained “to the greatest extent possible.” A 9-foot fly fishing rod is a great measuring stick. The guide and clients will wear face coverings that meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Department of Public Health recommendations. Cape Cod on the Fly will adhere to recommendations regarding the cleaning and disposal of face masks. Clients will be asked to bring their own mask but extra masks will be carried onboard in the event a mask is lost or becomes wet.
Signs will be posted about hygiene and safety protocols, and this mitigation plan. The signs will include a statement that anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 will not be allowed onboard. The guide will explain social distancing protocol during the initial booking and again at the start of each trip, highlighting the information on the signs and confirming client health as best as possible.
The state’s 14-day quarantine for out-of-state clients remains in effect, which will be understandably difficult for potential clients coming to the state or Cape for only a few days. This may change in the future but we ask clients to be honest about when they arrived in Massachusetts and will abide by any related requirements.
Touchless: There will be no physical contact between the guide and clients unless there’s an emergency or other circumstance that requires more direct contact.
This includes hands-on instruction, hand shakes or other physical greetings. Instead the guide and client will wave, salute or use other gestures.
In addition to a face mask and buff, the guide will wear gloves if direct contact is necessary. A supply of gloves will be kept onboard with the first aid kit.
The guide will avoid touching the same areas as the client while onboard and will carry clorox wipes and a small amount of bleach and water mixture to clean surfaces where cross contamination might occur.
To avoid unnecessary contact, the use of credit card, Venmo or Paypal for payment and tips is encouraged, rather than cash or check.
Thank you, as always, for choosing Cape Cod on the Fly. The health and safety of my clients has always been a top priority, as it remains today and will be tomorrow. I look forward to our time together on the water.