Respecting private property

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Ybsong, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. Ybsong Member

    Posts: 47
    Seattle, wa
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    Believe me, I sympathize. I'm always looking for good water to fish, private or otherwise. I live on a beach in the South Sound that happens to be a special spot for SRC. Most, but unfortunately not all, of the fishermen that know the spot are respectful. But the occasional jerk shows up and ruins it for everyone. After my most recent awkward moment, I decided to make a flier that I'll be handing to visitors to my beach. If you get one of these fliers, don't take the terse tone personally. My default is to wish you luck and swap some local knowledge.


    Welcome. You’ve found a very special spot to fish for Sea-run Cutthroat Trout and Salmon. As posted, you’re also on private property. All of the tideland along this beach is privately owned. I’m an avid fly fisherman, so I understand how special this place is, and welcome the occasional fly fisherman who respectfully finds himself here. If you abide by the rules below, I wish you the best of luck. Break any of the rules below and the sheriff will escort you off the premises.

    - 100% catch and release, all species, all the time.
    - Fly fishing only. No bait, spoons, gear.
    - Single, BARBLESS hooks, one fly at a time
    - Knotless nets required. Handle fish gently and keep them in the water at all times. Not having a net is not an excuse to drag a fish onto the beach. That includes taking pictures.
    - Do not remove anything from the beach. Stay off the nets. Do not litter.
    - This is an active shellfish farm. Thus, go to the bathroom before you come here, and after you leave.
    - Workers, kids and neighbor’s dogs trump your fishing.
    - Do not publicize or share this location with anyone. Fishing pressure has increased here over the years, and it will be shut down if that trend continues.
    - Smile, say hello.

    Just thought I'd share it proactively as I think these are good guidelines whenever fishing private property (or public property for that matter). There's also a good chance some of you have fished my beach.

    Tight lines… ybs
    Lance, almostacatch, bigdood and 12 others like this.
  2. doublebluff Go Beavs

    Posts: 112
    Corvallis, OR
    Ratings: +29 / 0
    I appreciate your willingness to keep the property open. That's a good set of rules, and it is great that you put them on paper. As you state in your post, you will run into "that guy" now and then- hopefully it doesn't sour your perspective of the rest of us.
  3. Milt Roe Member

    Posts: 396
    Taco Ma
    Ratings: +14 / 0
    I sympathise with your problem, but im not sure you can do that. You probably can restrict public access to your beach, but are you legally able to set the rules of access so that they prevent an angler from fishing in a legal manner? C&R of all species and fly only are not required by law. Would the sherrif escort the spoon fisherman from your beach and leave the fly fisherman next to him alone? I doubt it. Interesting question though. And people could fish the same water any legal way they wanted from a boat. Regardless, looks like you are trying to manage the problems without an outright no trespassing policy, so thank you for doing that.
  4. Steve Saville Active Member

    Posts: 2,519
    Tacoma, WA
    Ratings: +343 / 1
    You would be better off posting it as beach fishing by permission only.
  5. wyofly Active Member

    Posts: 181
    NW Wyoming
    Ratings: +33 / 0
    YBS, I understand and sympathise with your problem. We get many requests to hunt and fish our ranch and it is rare that anyone is refused access to hunt deer, turkey, varmint or waterfowl. Fisherman are welcome and we also allow folks to launch or take out their boats at two places on the Big Horn river. We don't allow upland bird hunting, but selfishly keep it for ourselves. :) Occasionally, I find shotgun shells that a poacher has left on the ground and sometimes gates are either closed or open which can cause me a lot of grief. We have had our our 10" irrigation pipes shot and our house shot near a side door. The fisherman who leave trash on the river bank are denied future access and I tell them why.
    On occasion I have have called Wyoming G&F and or the sherif for poaching and trespassing.
    That said, the great majority of hunter's and fisherman respect our property and have had access for years.
  6. tkww Member

    Posts: 467
    Ratings: +69 / 2
    Why couldn't access be conditional on private property? How is that different than your house? (For example, don't walk into my house if you're not willing to take your shoes off.) As for the sheriff, yes, they are at the beckon of the owner. Let's say you had a group of people over to your place. Someone is acting in manner you wished they didn't, they refuse to stop and/or leave, LE comes over and escorts them away. Never mind that other people are standing there and doing something similar, minus the offending behavior. LE would much prefer the above rules are posted visibly, as it makes their job a lot easier. ("See that sign? You're not following the rules posted on that sign, therefore the land owner has asked me to come here and escort you away.")

    And yes, big props to the owner for attempting to keep access available.
  7. thatoneguy New Member

    Posts: 1
    Ratings: +0 / 0

    I think thats awesome that your willing to share YOUR space with other respectful folks that are passing time throwing a barbless fly on the end of their line. Upon someone not following what should be a widespread moral code, give 'em the boot!
  8. Ybsong Member

    Posts: 47
    Seattle, wa
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    I'd be shocked if it ever came down to calling the police, I'd ask them to leave first. I just want to get across that I take these rules seriously, and so should they. I honestly think a lot of it is expectation setting and sometimes education. I've offered to lend guys a net, and figured they knew what they were doing when they declined. Only to watch them subsequently drag a fish onto the beach. If I do end up asking folks to leave, I would like them to know why I did so.

    I also want this to be an exercise in respect rather than technicality. I'm not going to have debate over the fishing regs if you're trespassing on my property. The reason I made the 100% C&R rule is that I've seen guys catch jump up and down in excitement on my beach thinking they landed a Silver, when the fish is undoubtedly a big SRC. I don't want to be the arbiter of what species you caught or whether it's wild or hatchery, or translate the regs on your behalf. Just be glad you caught a fish and put it back gently. If you want to keep fish, try the public access spot a few miles down the road.

    Fly fishermen are usually respectful and self-aware. And I think most property owners wouldn't mind the occasional fisherman wetting a line on their beach. But the default rule has to be zero footprint, zero impact and maximum manners. It kills me when I hear foul language from strangers while my kids are playing on the beach, or have the gall to ask me for beers and then urinate within eyeshot! I'm an optimistic guy, who tries to give folks the benefit of the doubt. But the number of "come on man!" moments seems to have increased. When I fish someone's beach, if they're there, I go out of my way to introduce myself and thank them for letting me fish their beach. It's just common sense, and would open up more water for all of us if we all made a greater effort.

  9. Milt Roe Member

    Posts: 396
    Taco Ma
    Ratings: +14 / 0
    Tkww. My question was whether this would be restricting the ability of an angler to legally fish where it is legal to do so. You cant do that, it is illegal to harass or otherwise prevent an angler from fishing in a legal manner. The landowner does not set the game laws. It would be much simpler to post rules that allow legal fishing subject to rules related to granting access across private property.

    And keep in mind that the landowners right to prevent access across tidelands is by no means resolved in WA. Clearly, trespass across uplands is not legal. However, the right to pass through and fish from tidelands has been upheld in many states, but has never been resolved in WA.
  10. Alex MacDonald Dr. of Doomology

    Posts: 3,336
    Haus Alpenrosa, Lederhosenland
    Ratings: +895 / 0
    You're a LOT nicer than I'd be, especially if it were adequately posted as private property. They'd not like the reception I'd give them.
  11. DimeBrite MA-9 Beach Stalker

    Posts: 923
    Marine Area 9
    Ratings: +400 / 0

    Thanks for allowing access on your tidelands, it is really appreciated. I hope other property owners along Puget Sound follow your example. Regarding the rules, many of us don't carry a net of any type, choosing to release fish in the water by grabbing the fly and turning the hook.

    To help us maintain our access to private beach areas I think all fishermen should bring along garbage bags each trip and collect trash on their way out. A few minutes of trash picking can make a big difference for everybody.
    Richard Torres and dryflylarry like this.
  12. Ybsong Member

    Posts: 47
    Seattle, wa
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    I can guarantee it's within my right to restrict access and use at my discretion. This isn't a case of the mean tide lines. Two thirds of my lot are underwater most of the time. I pay property taxes for beach well below the zero tide mark. And the shellfish company pays homeowners to farm those tidelands. The property and where most people park is clearly posted as private property. On rare occasions, WDFW rangers will walk the beach and make sure all of beach combers and fishermen are either homeowners or guests of homeowners. I've never had any problems with boaters, but if they were being rude, I'd probably decide to skip some rocks.

    I guess this is my little social experiment to see whether the few rotten apples can be educated so the rest of the nice folks can continue enjoying this special spot. If it ends up not being worth the effort, I'll try the "keep the entire beach to myself" experiment next.

  13. Ybsong Member

    Posts: 47
    Seattle, wa
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    I hear you DimeBright. I usually do the same thing for smaller fish. That was my reference when I said "I figured they knew what they were doing", when sadly they so clearly didn't when they hauled the fish onto the rocks. I try to use the net as often as possible, and encourage others to do so, as I believe it's generally leads to a gentler handling of the fish. It usually shortens the fight time, and minimizes the hands on the fish. When fish are fought to absolute exhaustion it really can be their last fight. And SRC are scrappy, and I've watched novices struggle mightily trying to wrangle a fish, until they finally grab the fish like the Incredible Hulk or get frustrated and bring the fish to land. The bigger the fish, the bigger the risk. If someone assured me they didn't need a net, I might give them the benefit of the doubt that they're a pro. But if I saw that fish on the beach or treated poorly, I'll be asking them to leave and not come back.

  14. Steve Saville Active Member

    Posts: 2,519
    Tacoma, WA
    Ratings: +343 / 1
    I have answered several posts like this over the years. It's really quite simple. You can allow access or restrict it. But if you allow access, you cannot change the laws or regulations. You own the land, not the water. The regs are written about catching fish in the water. The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to allow access subject to the laws and regulations and ask people to respect the beach. There will always be some Bozo abusing the access so tell them to leave. If they refuse, call the Sheriff. I have had to ask only one pair of idiots to leave my property in the past ten to twelve years and I would estimate that on a sunny, warm day, 50 to 100 people walk my beach from one park to another.During the Pink Salmon season there are people there every day, including me so I can police it very easily with a curteous approach and a cell phone.
  15. daveypetey Active Member

    Posts: 274
    University District, Seattle, WA
    Ratings: +39 / 0
    Is this true? So the law states if you allow one you must allow all access? I find that doubtful. I'd love to see a reference. If this were true, private hunting and fishing ranches in the state would have no recourse to trespassers. If you only allow fly fishers on your land, which I can only imagine would be upheld by local LE/municipalities, that is your prerogative.

    And with taxation of the owners tidelands, the low tide ownership rules seem to have been effectively decided, at least from a getting a ticket and kicked off standpoint.
  16. Steve Saville Active Member

    Posts: 2,519
    Tacoma, WA
    Ratings: +343 / 1
    I did not say you must allow access. What I said, and I believe it to be true, is that if you allow access, you cannot dictate flyfishing only because you own only the land to the mean low tide line. You don't own the water so therefore you cannot dictate the regulation of that water. You are not speaking of a landlocked piece of water, I assume, therefore passage by water on Puget Sound is a Public Right. Fishing in the water or on the water by boat is regulated by the State. The rules, according to the enforcement officers are very clear even though you need a lot of time to absorb the Washington State pamphlet. You could, however regulate the taking of shellfish on your land because the shellfish reside either on top of the land you own or beneath. That is a common practice.

    That being said, if you posted a sign stating access only by permission, when you gave that permission, you could convey your wishes however I doubt you could enforce a flyfishing only rule on you portion of the land. It would be an interesting court case.
    Dan Nelson likes this.
  17. Bradley Miller Dances with fish

    Posts: 442
    Ratings: +104 / 0
    This may be a question that is of little value, or of theoretical interest only, but it's been in my mind. I'd like your take on this, Ybsong......
    The way I understand it, SOME beachfront property owners own the tidelands, and some (most?) do not, depending on whether or not they have purchased said tidelands from the State of Washington. How then is a person to know, practically, what the legal ownership status is when confronted by a landowner? Take his word for it? Wait for him to produce documentation? Wait for the sheriff and see if HE/SHE wants to see the docs? I mean: it's not legal to trespass on land that is owned by another. But it's not ILLEGAL for someone to claim that land as theirs when it isn't. Do you see the problem? Someone comes storming down to the beach and says 'get off my property' when in fact, it may not BE their property. I suppose the hapless fisherman might do a property records search and create a database for any beach that might seem like a fishing prospect, but......really?
    Maybe this never happens. But it seems like it must. I never knowingly tread on someone elses beach property, but I don't want to get chased off by a liar, either. What to do?
  18. Mike T Active Member

    Posts: 853
    Gig Harbor, WA
    Ratings: +55 / 1
    "The way I understand it, SOME beachfront property owners own the tidelands, and some (most?) do not, depending on whether or not they have purchased said tidelands from the State of Washington."

    I'm not sure what you consider to be tidelands, but if you're referring to beaches then you should know that many waterfront properties extend to the mean low water mark. By no means would I say that most do not. If you're not fishing at a park or other publicly posted beach then you ought to assume you're on private property until you can find out otherwise.

    "That being said, if you posted a sign stating access only by permission, when you gave that permission, you could convey your wishes however I doubt you could enforce a flyfishing only rule on you portion of the land. It would be an interesting court case."

    If the property owner owns the land that the guest is standing on, even if it's underwater, then I'm confident that the property owner can dictate the guest's conduct. Why would it be different from a guest's unwelcome behavior on dry land?

    Where this gets murky is when Indians are fishing. I've watched them damage a bulkhead when tying their beach seine to it. When we pointed out they'd break the ladder off they replied that their rights prevailed.
  19. Ybsong Member

    Posts: 47
    Seattle, wa
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    That’s a fair question Bradley. I’ve wondered the same. In my case, it’s obvious because there are signs that say so, and the shellfish nets are obvious and visible, so it’s clear someone owns the land. Due to the aquaculture tax revenue, it’s an important part of the purchase/sell process, and they make an extra big deal of it in title process (as one could sell the tideland, while keeping the dry land if they wanted to subdivide their property). But in general, I don’t know of a great way for the public to access that data easily. Wish there was one, so would love to hear if anyone has found one. As Steve mentioned, it’s not uncommon to see folks walking by with their families or dogs, and it’s a stingy landowner who’d give them a hard time. But the few who just don’t seem to give a damn (e.g. don’t clean up after their dogs), make the owners grit their teeth.

  20. Bradley Miller Dances with fish

    Posts: 442
    Ratings: +104 / 0
    Well, that's good to know. I was under the impression that the bulk of beachfront property owners did NOT own the intertidal zone, but some did because of some purchases that were made from the State of Washington back in the day. But if the majority of them do in fact own the beach then ok. That helps clarify the situation.
    Edit: and shame on anyone who doesn't treat a beach with due respect, no matter who owns it.
    kelvin likes this.