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Practicing social distancing, shoreline fishing a catch at the Cornhusker State Games
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Practicing social distancing, shoreline fishing a catch at the Cornhusker State Games


There is an old fishing adage that says: "If you can read my shirt while fishing, you're fishing too close to me."

That saying held true Saturday at the Cornhusker State Games in the shoreline fishing event at Holmes Lake. Anglers kept their distance from each other, respecting social and State Games guidelines in dealing with the coronavirus.

“I know the administration of Cornhusker State Games consulted with other states like Iowa and whatever, getting advice,” shoreline fishing director Larry Pape said. “I'm in a professional organization nationally and we worked on different protocols in how to do these operations to deal with the equipment and stuff appropriately. We've worked on systems since March to try to determine how we can do these kinds of functions and these kinds of programs while socially distancing.”

A handful of events for the games have been canceled because it's not practical to have social distancing while playing them, including the casting competition following the shoreline event, but that was not going to stop Pape from creating a family-friendly atmosphere.

Canceled events include badminton, baseball, chess, figure skating, hockey, horseshoe pitching, martial arts, skydiving, youth soccer and fast-pitch softball. 

“They eliminated so many of the activities in the State Games,” Pape said. “Wrestling you really can't social distance, but fishing, there was no way I was going to cancel this. I thought this is not one where I am teaching, I don't have to do hands-on and these families and people know what they are doing. We continued on with the confidence that we can do this safely without any problems.”

Pape, who works for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission as an aquatic educator in the fishery division, has seen an increase in fishing during the current pandemic, with many local retailers selling out of fishing gear.

“One of the things we’ve found in Nebraska this year is we’ve been selling fishing licenses like crazy,” Pape said. “People have been fishing. As a testament of that, you can hardly buy beginning entry-level fishing equipment at like Walmart or places like that. It’s a testament that people are actually doing it.

“To see people getting away and actually doing these activities like I did as a little kid 30 years ago is absolutely enthralling. I’m hoping the energy into the next year, even if we don’t have a (coronavirus) crisis next year, I think we are learning something and families are learning something about doing something as a family group.”

That confidence showed in the young anglers Saturday as Kailee Rowland outfished her father, Brian, 12 catches to six, including a nice-sized catfish reeled in off the shore.

“I don't know, it's just fun,” Kailee said about fishing with her father.

It's an event the two have participated in since Nebraska held the State Games of America in 2015. Iowa, which was going to host the 2020 national event, has since postponed the State Games of America to 2022.

“We enjoy fishing together,” Brian Rowland said. “Kailee enjoys fishing. She would rather fish with me than anyone else.

"She often out-fishes me."


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