Beach access/tresspassing


Active Member
Michael- that is for sure not the case. If you anchor in some cases you might be tresspassing, but never if you are just floating around.

Michael Thompson

the flavor of BADFISH
i wasn't stating it as fact, more like hypothesizing. logically if the boundary goes out to the low tide mark then if your in a boat within the area your still trespassing. so why is floating within that boundary legal when standing in waist deep water is not? there in lies my confusion.

i personally have no qualms wading into a private beach, im not using their gravel and driftwood to negotiate the puget sound and i am tired of being oppressed and discriminated against my right to be in the water even though i dont own water craft..... at least thats what i will tell the judge when my day comes.:clown:

Milt Roe

Active Member
Crossing with a boat is the same as flying a plane over private property - You are not in physical contact with the privately-held land in either case. Wading could potentially be trespassing though. You are physically in contact with the private property by standing on it. In any case you are welcome to fish across my beach anytime.

I do feel sorry for those who have a public beach access nearby. I'll post some pictures from my folks place when the pinks come in. Two years ago they had people crapping right on their bulkhead.
The variety of answers to this problem shows how bad the situation is. We have a very small number of people who want to protect their beach front. I don't blame them, many have a lot of money invested in the quality of life they want for their families. The problem is they may not own access to the tide lands like they think they do. I believe that the courts would rule in favor of the people to have access to that land they they pay a lot of money in tax dollars to protect.

Oregon and California let people use the beaches as long as they gain access legally. This does not mean you can break other laws at the same time. I wish a politically active group would get behind this as it would open up a lot of land for people to recreate on with out the use of tax dollars that are always in short supply. The WWRC as example,, has a water access agenda but it is just another request for tax dollars to buy and improve property. A lot more access can be opened up with a modernization of our laws.

Bob Triggs

Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!
This needs to get pressed in the courts to end up on better terms with the general public. It has been overturned in other states back east, and after hundreds of years of private property enforcement and taxes there too. It can be changed.
Maybe since WWRC understands the need for more public space, they would change their focus. The current lack of money may motivate them to look in a new direction. An email campain from a group like this may help. They are very connected politically. It's called "change".


Active Member
Michael - look up "Navigable water" in a legal definition and you should understand it a bit better.

opening up the beaches to the public is the last thing i would want. Its amazing how knocking on a door, being friendly and a slab of salmon will open up miles of coast line.
I have seen the results of this kind of legal action on the east coast and it is brutal. trash everywhere, spray painting on rocks and general destruction of what had once been a beautiful area.

Mike T

Active Member
I can't imagine eminent domain on this type scale being being at all legal, or for that matter good for any property owner considering the precedent it would create for all of us.


"Chasing Riseforms"
I don't think you'll ever see it happen. The only way would be for the owner to somehow "sell" it back to the taxpayers. I have tresspassed on beaches before. Not a good practice, but... I usually always ask permission if I see someone, if I can fish on their beach. I've never been refused. I gave a nice 18" coho to the last owner I met off "his" beach. He and his wife were quite grateful. As D3 says... you can buy a lot of beach that way. You must be careful of course. If I sneak along a beach somewhere, I NEVER turn around and stare into someones home. That is my best advice. On the other hand, I was shot at once! The bullet hit the water "nearby". It could have been an accident, but I don't think so. I continued fishing after taking a 2 minute breather. I was kicked off a beach for the first time about 2 seasons ago. I fished the beach for 35 years! I became stubborn and told the person I wasn't bothering them fly fishing and I had fished there for 35 years. I told the person I was fishing in "navigable waters". It confused the person. It worked but I was still a little nervous. One final note. I suspect you would either have to be arrested (after the person called the sheriff) to get truly taken off a beach, or get threatened with a shotgun. I apologize to those of you that own waterfront and I caught beautiful sea run cutts off your beach. I'm truly sorry. Can I offer you a coho for dinner tonight? :D


MA-9 Beach Stalker
I comfortably fish "private" beaches that have high bluffs. I'm happily fishing below and the residents above are oblivious to my presence. I'll pick up any obvious trash on my way out and the tide wipes away my footprints. If a beach is clearly posted I'll keep away unless the tide is low. Most long time Washington beach front residents don't seem to mind the occasional quirky fly fisherman, but the transplants from other states seem to feel more entitled to keeping people off "their" beach. My personal encounters with home owners have all been very friendly, in one encounter with some lonely middle-aged women... it was a little too friendly.

When a beach fishery becomes overly popular it leads to major conflicts with home owners. The Bush Point controversy is a great example of this, and there is an uneasy truce between the home owners and the throng of gear fishermen that attack that beach every summer/fall. I suspect there will be more Bush Point type problems in the future as more people take up saltwater fishing. Then again declining salmon stocks and reduced hatchery production may be the thing that keeps us fishermen off the beaches in the end.
I'm not sure you can sell back tide lands to the Public per say. I know we pay a crap load of taxes for the priviledge of owning the 150 of tide land we have. We (our family)also paid a small fortune to have a granite boulder bulkhead built to protect our property above on the high bank. The two beach lots we own are nearly straight up and down so for all intents, they are "unbuildable" but we still have to pay taxes on them as if they were. We are close to Dash Pt. State Park and DP County Park and therefore have lots of beach walkers across our beach. We have never kept people off as long as they respect the property and don't trash the beach. There have been times when gear fishermen have followed me there and I have never said "No" to them but I find they are not nearly as sensitive to the property as the flyfishermen. I think that is the nature of the beast. The Pink Salmon run brings out the worst elements of fishermen and then when its over, we go back to normal for two years. It's a price we pay for owning a piece of property.


Active Member
as i posted, at statehood, Washington gave the tidelands and river beds to the land owners. this is not a debatable item. asking permission is the ticket and if you are denied, its best to leave without making any comment. naviagable waterway is a term used in reference to rivers, not tide lands. it was meant to protect the lumber industry who used rivers to float logs to mills. that said, the river beds in this state still belong to the property owners. you can float over that property, but technically, you had best not anchor or get our of your floating device. the concept of 'floating over' also applies to tidelands, just don't anchor up on private property without permission. because the state approached this as they did, there is never going to be a 'taking back' of tidelands, forget about it. the one and only reason this is confusing is that each state approached this differently and so there is no uniform pattern to what is accessable. the big fight in oregon was/is river beds. it turns out that the river beds are in the public domain even though property deeds may indicate otherwise. various law enforcement agencies have been informed of this legal issue and for the most part respect the drifters right to pass through as well as anchor. but this has been to court more than once already after unsuspecting drifters have been arrested and cited for tresspass.

ask, or move along should be the moto here. confrontation is a net loss to everyone involved.
I'm not sure you can sell back tide lands to the Public per say. I know we pay a crap load of taxes for the priviledge of owning the 150 of tide land we have.
You can donate the tidelands to either the county or a non profit land trust, or place an Open Space/ Conservation easement on the land and your tax burden will be greatly reduced. The public does not necessarily have to be given the right to access it with a conservation easement but you still get the tax benefit. Contact your local agency.