HELENA — There's no question, Montana is the mecca for trout fishing, more specifically, fly fishing. Now with COVID-19 concerns grabbing ahold of the treasure state, the virus is leaving outfitters, along with many other working professionals high and dry.
“The prior to this past week was just delays in trips. Now people are canceling,” said Chris Strainer, owner of Cross Currents Fly Shop.
Strainer has owned and operated Cross Currents Fly Shop for over two decades and said this year has been, and will be unlike any other year that he’s seen since starting in the industry. As many people who have booked trips through his guide service are rethinking their excursion.
“Canadian clients are probably one of the folks that are really concerned because of the border issue. And also some of them are older. A lot of our clients tend to be in their 70s. And so they're the folks that are most concerned about coming to Montana to fish,” said Strainer
When asked about concerns for this season, Strainer noted that his main concern for right now is keeping both his clients and his guides safe, but also understands that this virus has the potential to stick around for a portion of the fly fishing season.
“Our main concern is the safety of the guides and their clients," said Strainer. "Mainly we're looking at April, May, and June for being that that difficult time.“
Though the future of this season looks uncertain, Strainer said for anyone feeling stress at this point in time, fly fishing is a good opportunity to take a load off of their mind.
“That's one of the appeals. So, from a standpoint, if someone, say was worried about COVID- 19, when you're on the water your concentration is set on about a 10-foot piece of water. You're trying to put together these puzzle pieces on how to catch the fish with flies and using the techniques of fly cast and to make that happen," said Strainer. "What people tend to love about it, including myself, is that an hour or two can just drift by, and all you thought about was that immediate task at hand.”