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'Let us fish:' Washington anglers push to ease fishing restrictions put in place during pandemic

Under the state's Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, you can go out on a boat, but the moment you cast a line into the water, you're breaking state law.

SEATTLE — Boaters paraded into Lake Union on Sunday afternoon to ask Gov. Jay Inslee to ease restrictions against fishing during the coronavirus pandemic.  

People are allowed to go boating but they are not allowed to grab a pole and cast lines into the water.

“Fishing is not just something that I do, its who I am. It's an important part of me,” organizer Marc Marcantonio explained. 

For those who love to fish, a day out on the water isn't always about how many were caught or how big fish were. For anglers like Marcantonio, the water is an escape that brings peace and answers.

“It's gotten me through a lot of tough times,” he explained.  

With the stress of the pandemic weighing harder, the desire to spend a day casting and catching seems more important. Unfortunately, it's against the rules. 

“It doesn't make any sense why can we be out on the water, yet the minute I throw a line out, I'm violating a state law,” Craig Bukowski said.

They took their fight to the water Sunday, parading through the ship canal and meeting up near the shores of Gas Works Park to ask for a change. 

Organizers say they're willing to take extra precautions or follow certain guidelines from the State Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

“90% of fishing involves social distancing because people don't want to fish next to each other because they can't catch fish as well,” Marcantonio said.

Bukowski said he's not questioning how serious the situation is with the virus, he just believes adding fishing won't make matters worse for the pandemic but could help eliminate some of the stress this crowd is feeling.

“Let's not do things that don't make sense. Whether I'm in a boat or I'm fishing, that won't determine whether I'm spreading COVID-19, so let us fish," he said.

Inslee’s office says he’s looking for ways to expand outdoor recreation. Washingtonians and anglers can expect to hear more from him in the coming weeks.