The coronavirus has certainly changed social behavior around the globe. We have new terminology that, when spoken, generates instant recognition and reaction. One of the new phrases coined and deemed acceptable by the World Health Organization and the U.S. government is “social distancing.”

The word immediately implies the need to separate oneself from society and practice isolation until the threat of COVID-19 is over. So far, the virus seems to have free will amongst the human population with no known vaccine for immunization. Depending on which news service or public health announcement we read, the human body has yet to develop immunity to the virus.

The best advice given by the experts is to avoid crowds of more than 10 people, eliminate needless travel and minimize contact with others until word is given that the threat to the world has passed. When not avoiding crowds, we are to scrub hands, clothes and body religiously with alcohol, bleach or soap to kill and eliminate this insidious invisible virus that might be on the body, clothing, plastic, metals, planes, trains and automobiles.

While these measures seem extreme to some individuals, like those on spring break for instance, it makes sense to practice the separation from others in public until someone somewhere figures out how to reduce the impact from the virus on people and the economy. Other than the fact people are neurotically hoarding cleaning supplies and toilet paper – toilet paper, really? – so they can minimize being contaminated, social distancing has been taken seriously. At least in Park County.

It comes as no surprise that the words “social distancing” have been manipulated and turned into a slang word by fishermen of these United States. Anglers have changed the spelling and grammatical use of these words to now be called “fish distancing,” which has been further condensed to one word and is now being called, “fishtancing.”

Rumor has it the great state of Montana coined this phrase to let people know it is okay to get outdoors and enjoy fishing opportunities without compromising one’s own immune systems or those of other people.

After a few hours on social media, fishtancing went viral. Anglers everywhere are now using the term to describe a day on a river, stream, lake or ocean. Even an old codger like me happily incorporated the word into my vocabulary.

Now, I readily use the word to excuse and justify my absence around the house or business. The same can be said for the majority of real, live friends and my not so real friends on social media. It sounds happier, more daring and much less threatening than the words social distancing, don’t you think?

Recommendations to continue maintaining social separation at parties, bars, businesses, etc., are still in place by the federal, state and local governments as this column is being written for print in Tuesday’s Cody Enterprise. Therefore, most of you reading this will be pleased to know area lakes are ice-free and fishing great.

This news creates even more places to practice fishtancing and feel good about respecting the space and privacy of others while taking advantage of ultra-violet sunrays to kill off those demonic COVID-19 viruses by the millions.

Rivers and streams are still open for angling. Closures on the North Fork of the Shoshone go into effect April 1 through July 1 from the bridge crossing the river at Buffalo Bill State Park up river to Newton Creek inside the Shoshone National Forest. Fishing remains open above this closure. The west arm of Buffalo Bill Reservoir closes the same day but does not open to angling until July 15. Except for Yellowstone National Park, all other waters remain open.

Please, go fishing. Get outside and enjoy the miles and miles of water within the beautiful state of Wyoming. It will do your mental, physical and spiritual self a world of good during uncertain times. If you see me fishing, please, please, please give me room to enjoy my space. Fishtance immediately. I promise to do the same for you.

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