Private land

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by 10incher, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. Ordinarily, when scouting, I would just go and see what happens. Like a dog on walkabout. But suppose you were travelling far enough that you need to budget your fuel expenses, time away from responsibilities, etc. I've always found private land by coming to a locked gate or posted sign. But in Ca. I was close to home, so no big deal. Any tips on locating private land BEFORE driving three hours one way just to find out I won't even be fishing?
  2. Maps and online research. If there is another way I don't know what it is.

    Update: I just thought of another way. If the area you are interested in is near National Forest land call the Forest Service for details. They have generally been pretty helpful to me.
  3. Most counties have some kind of online GIS that allows you to determine the ownership of a given parcel. e.g. Snohomish county has "SCOPI"
  4. Knowing where private land is and isn't hasn't been that much of a factor in my fishing. Posted private land, however, is. I don't know of a way to learn whether private land is off limits to access before going somewhere new until I get there or from asking around on internet sites like this one.

  5. Wow! That was sure fast. I'm asking because I've never actually had to do it. Info on just calling forestry and accessing SCOPI is great. I thought someone might already have a method dialed. You don't get anything if you don't ask, right? So I'll look into it. Starting with the above suggestions. If I find any good ways to access private land ownership records I'll post links.
  6. When in doubt just walk in the stream. I believe if the river is so called navigable you can walk as high as the flood line or something like that. Don't quote me on that though I may be wrong. I have never been yelled at in the river only on the bank in transit to a next spot. If your respectful and dont piss shit and throw trash on the river a lot time people will just talk to you and explain your on there property line kindly. I have even met people this way that allow access via there property with quick number swap and a bottle of Pendleton or beer of there choice
  7. In urban settings you can check out real estate engines like Haven't used them for rural areas. But sometimes you can find interesting anomalies like public street ends or alleys based on their unofficial property lines.
    10incher likes this.
  8. The only problem with that strategy is that some landowners are convinced that they don't want anybody on their land, no matter what. They aren't interested in quibbling over the nuances of terms like navigable waterway, mean high-water mark or public right of way. Instead of debating the finer points of law, you might end up looking down the business end of somebody's large-bore handgun.

    Compounding all this is the fact that some states (I'm thinking Montana and Colorado for instance) allow ownership of land adjacent to waterways and calculate the boundary out to the actual middle of the stream, not to the mean high water mark.

  9. Technically correct--the Shoreline Management Act governs any flowing water in the state over (I believe) it's pretty much all of them. Counties were given the option to opt out certain waters. There's a list on the Dept. of Ecology's website somewhere. The act creates a public easement up to the Ordinary High Water Mark.

    But--law enforcement are very uneducated when it comes to the SMA, and the law is old and has grey areas that haven't been fully established in case law. I've talked to local sheriffs that claim they've kicked people out of the Kalama because there are some landowners who have the river bed deeded. Similarly, there's a small stream here in Vancouver where the sheriffs regularly kick people out of the river who are legally fishing.

    We haven't reached the point that Montana and Utah have where their water rights are being challenged by Real Estate developers and landowners with deep money. We will eventually. When it happens, it's a dice roll on where anglers land in a fight that will take time and money. In the meantime, I advise people to treat landowners with as much respect as possible, don't litter, and education before confrontation.
    The Duke likes this.
  10. Google the county assessor's website for the county in question. That's where you'll find their online property map if they have one.
    10incher likes this.
  11. Minor correction, Kent. Colorado and Wyoming permit landowners to 'own' the streambed, but not Montana. Montana has the most public friendly stream access laws of any state (in this part of the world, at least). If you can access a stream legally, you can wade/walk past private land, as long as you stay below mean high water mark.
  12. Thanks Dick. I knew it was one of them.

  13. California is the same in most cases. It's a little spotty and you need to check specifics for the water you'll be on. But it's usually "navigable waters" and "high water mark". People do get a little funny when they see you fishing through their backyard though! Most DO think they own the streambed. I've seen dams, bridges, rock walls and wading pools. Anything that may impede fish passage gets called in and disappears PDQ. I carried a copy of the access laws in my vest just to settle disputes peaceably.
    triploidjunkie likes this.
  14. Some of the very best creek fishing that I've ever done has been the result of driving to a house on a sweet looking stretch (the big house, if there's more than one), knocking on the door, and politely asking permission to fish the creek. I always give them the assurance that I won't trample vegetation, won't litter, and will even pick up any if I see it. This has gone well, often, and other times not so well. Heck, I've been scouting water on certain creeks, and as a result of this method had hour plus chats with the land owners who told me about two or three other awesome creeks, and then let me fish their stretch. They'll also tell you things like, "yeah, Bob Williams (made up name) owns the next mile upstream and you can talk to him he'll probly let you fish, but don't bother asking the old crab downstream of me... oh and watch out for my cattle if you see em some of em are longhorns and they can be pretty ornery..." Good times!

  15. Good overview of SMA

    2011 WAC by ecology noting which rivers in which counties they consider "shorelines" f the state.

    If I'm below the OHWM and I get a ticket...I guarantee I'll take it to court ;)
  16. There was a landowner on the little spokane river near where I lived when I was a teenager that would throw a fit when she saw me wade through her backyard. I argued about highwater marks, but soon learned she was correct(one of the few navigable rivers owners can own the streambed), but this brand new tool was available, the internet, that allowed me to look up the property lines and print them out. The next outing I stood well back of her property line and cast my flies into the sweet spot well on her property. She came out and threatened to call the cops. I said go ahead. The sheriff deputy showed up hot, ready to bust some punk kid trespassing, but I calmly pulled the property lines out, showing I legally accessed the river from a public bridge and was standing where I was allowed too. He had no choice but to reluctantly concede I was correct, and even chewed out the homeowner for wasting his time. She hollered about me catching her "pet trout she feeds every day". I wondered why the fish were so big in that stretch. I made it a point to fish there almost daily just to piss her off. The funny thing is, if she wasn't so rude to begin with, and had explained the "pet trout", I would've just said"sorry ma'am" and moved along. She must've been a coastal transplant.
    Randru and Jim Speaker like this.
  17. Hey hey now easy in the wet sider comments... more like a Bay Area transplant if ya ask me!

    My buddies and I were tubing the little Spo one fine day when we got chased (literally) through the woods as we fled from a land owner brandishing a 22 long barrel. We were a LONG way from take out and several had abandoned tubes in the flight. In shorts sneakers no shirt I camo'd myself with mud streaks and a snuck back to recover the tubes. The crazy F was in the woods nearby hollering "I heard you! I'm gonna find you!" etc... But, yeah, he didn't, and I got all the inner tubes back and fled downstream since all his hollering and thrashing about gave me such a bead on HIS location.
  18. Haha. I think I know that guy, except he chased(literally) me and some buddies off the river and through the woods with an ax. I think the crazy bastard would've used on us too.
  19. I had the same feeling, like he was f'd in the head and would have actually fired if he'd been able to get a bead.

    Just bullshit they can own that river bed.

    I used to fish it on that church property. Great at the right time of year, other times great whitefish habitat. You know what I'm talkin bout.

    Ever go way up in that crick and fish where it's a spring creek? Knocked a door or two up there got access and had a few small fish but they didn't seem representative of what should be in that habitat. Feel free to PM if the answer is TMI.

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