Fishing Time: Community enjoys recreation after beaches, boat ramps open

Brownsville fisherman Cesar Rendon shows his speckled trout Saturday catch at Jaime J. Zapata Memorial Boat Ramp and Kayak Launch Area.

For the first time in more than a month, community members were able to spend recreational time outside their home and go fishing and relax at Cameron County parks, beaches and boat ramps, which opened Saturday after County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. announced the easing of restrictions on Friday.

With their facial masks on, more than 10 people were seen at the Jaime Zapata boat ramp fishing and spending some quiet time Saturday morning as constable officers were at the entrance making sure everyone was complying with the requirements of social distancing, wearing face masks and maintaining at least 20 feet between vehicles.

“I feel very good because we can finally be out of the house for a little while and then go back home and do everything to be safe because right now it’s not getting better,” Ricardo Galvan, who was fishing at the Jaime Zapata boat ramp, said. “Everyone has to take the coronavirus very seriously, because it is a very bad disease, and we have to follow the instructions and be safe; just follow all the procedures that we have to so we can all be safe and get this over with.”

During a press conference on Friday, Treviño said social distancing must be practiced and everyone at the beach must wear a mask or facial covering, though they are not required in the water, he said. Watercraft for fishing may have a maximum of two occupants, or four occupants if members of the same household, and everyone has to wear a mask or facial covering. Charter fishing boats 18 feet or smaller may contain a guide and one client. Boats 22-26 feet in length may contain a guide and two clients. Treviño noted that the rules for boats between 18 and 22 feet need clarification, The Herald reported on Friday.

“It was about time for us to finally be able to enjoy fishing at least a little bit. We are practicing social distancing among everyone here and it’s safe for us to be able to be here fishing without risking contracting the virus,” Ivan Salas, who was also fishing at the Jaime Zapata boat ramp, said. “I think it was a good decision and we are wearing face masks and I think it was a good decision because we can spend time outside home, enjoying time here and then be able to go back home with food.”

Treviño said on boats as well, masks or facial coverings must be worn. Cleaning fish at docks or filet tables will not be allowed since Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines can’t be enforced. When launching or driving boats at boat ramps, at least one vehicle length must be maintained between vehicles. Social distancing at boat ramps is required and Treviño asked that visitors be respectful toward each other, The Herald reported on Friday.

All parks will close at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., depending on the park. Complete details will be available on the Cameron County website, Treviño said, adding that a violation of any of the restrictions governing the soft reopenings will constitute a state offense.

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