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Thom Glace, award winning watercolorist, habitual fly fisher, and Tony Gehman TCO fan. Glace often volunteers to demonstrate his work at TCO sponsored  events. He says the fly shop has been booming busy since COVID hit.

Several alarmed outdoor chroniclers called the recent interest in Pandemic ‘distancing’ via the isolations fly fishing and hunting in our public land wilderness’ can produce a threat to our environment. 

The fear of men and women with new $900 Orvis fly rods in one hand and $900 Winchester’s in the other without knowing ‘bushcraft’ – how to protect public lands and pristine waters they invade could very well end being a bad thing . . . they say.

As a parallel, a river ran through it  

We haven’t had a surge in fly fishing like we are witnessing now since the volcanic surge of interest we experienced following the Robert Redford movie A River Runs Through It starring Brad Pitt and Tom Skerritt.

Note: The movie title is from a novella by the same name, written by American author Norman Maclean (1902–1990) and published in 1976. 

The outdoor rush A River Runs Through It did cause some hostile fire. Like today, too much for our public lands, rivers, and lakes to have Mother Nature deal with and make right.

Overall, however, newcomers’ clamor to the sport and their gear demands were welcomed, not feared, and fly fishing flourished, and fly fishers did not degrade the environment.

Today, the surge in interest in fly angling – stirred to the fore by COVID 19 has several stories of letting the good times roll. 

Welcome newbies to the saltwater and freshwater venues of our shared land and the enrapturing experience of alone with nature. — Skip Clement

Outdoor recreation boom felt at the cash register in Berks County and beyond

Lisa Scheid @LisaScheid on Twitter.

By Lisa Scheid / Reading Eagle / February 22, 2021

New anglers made sure there was no lull this winter at TCO Fly Shops

Usually interest drops off in the fall, but the customers kept coming through December, said Tony Gehman, CEO of the fly fishing and outdoor retailer with shops in West Lawn, Haverford, State College and Boiling Springs. TCO also sells online.

“At four of our stores we teach fly fishing from March to September,” Gehman said. “The schools continued right through the winter. We added five classes each month. It’s been crazy.”

Pandemic boost

In a poll released in January, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said four out of five Pennsylvanians who visited parks and trails believe that time spent outdoors is essential to their physical and mental health during the pandemic.

John Hallas, director of the bureau of state parks, told a DCNR advisory council that there was an increase of a million visitors a month in 2020, compared to 2019, resulting in a total of 46.7 million visitors — a 26.6% annual increase.

It looks like the interest has also spurred economic growth as people try new activities.

“The poll results confirm what we have been seeing with our visitation numbers: that Pennsylvanians are turning to the outdoors for healthy activity and solace during the challenging times of the pandemic,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said when the poll was released. “That interest in the outdoors also has a positive impact on our economy and small businesses, as people try new activities and purchase the related gear.”

According to the poll, 37% said their interest in learning new outdoor recreation hobbies/skills increased since the pandemic began.

About 1 in 5 tried a new outdoor recreation activity

Similarly, 1 in 5 bought outdoor recreation equipment, gear or clothing. Of those who said they bought something, 42% spent $50 to $249 dollars, almost 17% spent $250 to $499, 10% spent $500 to $749, and about 5% spent $1,000 or more.

Ellen Shultzabarger, state forester and director of the bureau of forestry, told the advisory council that state forests experienced an almost 30% increase in camping, and parking lots and trail access points were continuously filled.

He must have missed the movie [1992] and what followed?

“We’ve been doing this for 30 years, and there’s been nothing as dramatic as this.”  — Tony Gehman

Will the boom continue?

Read more . . .


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