What are your rights to fish on rivers?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by National Rivers, Oct 17, 2013.

  1. National Rivers Member

    Posts: 26
    Ratings: +42 / 0
    Good morning! I have seen some threads and questions here about access to rivers for fishing and other recreation, and thought this information would be helpful for those who would like to take a second look. The National Organization for Rivers (NOR) is a nonprofit organization that focuses on educating the public about river law and public rights to access and recreate on rivers. What does NOR seek to do? The main three things are to 1) clarify public river rights on thousands of miles where they are disputed, including canoeing, kayaking, rafting, fishing, birding, and other uses, 2) address public and private land usage along rivers, and 3) to conserve the land along rivers, and keep enough water in rivers to keep them healthy and usable for navigation and fishing. The goal, as the first Act of our US Congress said, is for rivers to be "forever free."

    So what should you check out? NOR has a free handout you can download that explains your basic rights, with several court cases for how/why you have those rights. If you are interested, the link for the national handout is http://www.nationalrivers.org/river-law-handouts.html, or see the attachment to this post.

    Though the national handout applies to all states, we are in the process of making handouts and posters for all 50 states that address each state's specific issues. Colorado's handout and poster was recently finished, and can be seen at the link from above. We will keep you posted when Washington is ready!

    If you are interested in a further explanation of your rights, we have a new book that gives you the whole story. It's taken a couple decades to research, write, and have discussions with attorneys and other rivers experts in order for the book to be made. It's the first book that explains why and how the public has rights on rivers. It will change your perspective and understanding about your rights on rivers. If you want to learn more about it, here's a link http://www.nationalrivers.org/why-you-should-get-public-rights-on-rivers.html

    We look forward to being part of this community, helping you understand river law, and improving access on navigable rivers. Please feel free to interact with us and ask questions! Cheers.

    Attached Files:

  2. orangeradish Bobo approved

    Posts: 2,470
    Capital City
    Ratings: +491 / 0
    Thanks for posting this.
  3. KerryS Ignored Member

    Posts: 6,765
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +1,785 / 0
    Do you guys smoke cigars and drink whiskey?
  4. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,576
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,704 / 0

  5. freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Posts: 4,138
    Edgewood, WA
    Ratings: +791 / 1
    Awesome thread...possibly 2013's best! I've never heard of NOR...or at least not from the access rights perspective. Thanks for posting, I'll be joining today.
  6. jersey livin' the dream

    Posts: 237
    sonoma county
    Ratings: +74 / 0
    That pamphlet will find its way into my pack for sure. Hopefully, it will ease a confrontation as we say "nice to meet you" and just move on.

    Thank you for posting.
  7. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,221
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,702 / 0
    Here's something interesting. This is a page from the Oregon fishing regulations. The information is wrong!

    (I added the yellow highlights)



    This is false. Both the Oregon and Federal river rights do not indicate that a river must be designated as navigable by the state. There is no such clause in the Oregon Constitution. Plus, the Federal river rights do not indicate that a river must be officially designated navigable by the government for your rights to kick in. Obviously, the land owners had something to say about this part of the notice.


    This is partly true and misleading. The AG did in fact write an opinion that supported both the Oregon river rights and the Federal river rights. The statement gives the impression that if Oregon has not designated a river as navigable that your rights may not exist and the land owner may be entitled to press charges. They can certainly press charges but case after case after case has been decided in favor of the river user. This completely ignores historically documented decisions made by numerous courts brought against the river user that were decided in favor of the river user.

    The AG was aware of the cases. Whoever wrote this ignored those cases.

    The rural land owners in Oregon have a lot of power and obviously are using it to influence this statement.
  8. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,221
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,702 / 0
    What does “Navigable” mean?

    Federal law defines the term “Navigable.” The federal law is the basis that the state of Oregon must follow, or be potentially subject to a federal lawsuit. Waterways are navigable if:
    They rise and fall with the tide

    If in 1859, when Oregon was made a state, the waterway had the capacity, in terms of length, width and depth, to enable boats to make successful progress through its waters.
    The boat size relates to boats of 1859, including dugout canoes and log rafts, which drafted about four to six inches of water.[IMG]

    All the waterways that meet this description of “navigable” in 1859, were given by the Federal Government to the State of Oregon to protect as “common highways” and were to be “forever free”. This comes from Section 2 of the Oregon Admission Act. The document that made Oregon a state and listed all the requirements the United State had, in order for Oregon to be a state in the Union.


    So the page in the post above from the Oregon fishing regulations is absolute BS. The rivers that are navigable are not limited to the ones that Oregon has decided are navigable.

    Tony Abaloney likes this.
  9. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,790
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,722 / 0
    With all the water that is accessible and fishable, why do people feel that they have to go where they aren't wanted. Where I live and fish there is so much open water, I don't have to go illegal to catch fish.
  10. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,221
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,702 / 0
    That can quickly change if people start buying up the land on both sides of navigable rivers (as outlined in the post above) in Montana and believe they own the river beds and start yelling trespass if someone uses a drift boat to anchor and fish in front of their property line.

    No one owns the river and the river bed in any state in the union. It doesn't mean squat what their deeds may indicate. So, you are not illegally fishing if you entered the waterway legally and stay bellow the normal high water line. That is your federal right.
    Tony Abaloney likes this.
  11. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,576
    Your City ,State
    Ratings: +1,704 / 0

    I hope you'll contact ODFW and ask who prepared that insert for the state fishing regulations and why a false and misleading statements were printed. Ask forDemand an immediate press release correcting the false and misleading statements. You might suggest that the organized fishing and river recreation organizations are considering taking action against ODFW if they don't. cc the AG's office, of course.

  12. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,221
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,702 / 0
    We talked it over and decided they would most likely pull the notice instead of fixing it. So we decided to let it stand because it is partly true. Oregon Department of State Lands is responsible for the page, not the ODF&W. As the Department of Lands are heavily influenced by the ranching and farming lobby, we would make no headway in demanding they change the wording.

    It comes down to money. We have no money to buy the Oregon Department of State Lands as does the ranch and farm lobby; so the department, of course, would ignore any requests for a change in the wording. The page is obviously heavily slanted toward the land owners.

    We watch carefully for any new bills in the State Legislature that attack our river rights. We have no intention of letting Oregon go the way of Colorado. This means we must pick our battles and use whatever funds we can garner to fight anti river rights legislation that will most likely pop up again in the future.
  13. Trustfunder Active Member

    Posts: 177
    rock creek
    Ratings: +71 / 0
    Just went through this bullshit today, first time in 20 years floating this river and it wasn't about me but my dogs infringing below the high water mark inside (river side) private property fences. The claim was they're trespassing, my claim is no they're not, walking along nothing than a normal fisherman would exercise the right under the high water laws on navigable rivers in MT. And the person scrutinizing my reasoning has less miles in a car than I have on the water in a raft... then to find out she didn't even own the freaking property.

    My question is why does the fisherman get educated about the laws, but the property owner's version of the law doesn't seem to apply?

    Still waiting on the game warden sheriff here.
  14. Old406Kid Active Member

    Posts: 328
    Spokane, WA
    Ratings: +88 / 0
    Thanks for the good info.
    Wondering if anyone from your organization is or has been involved with Mr. Kennedy
    on the Ruby River situation?
  15. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,790
    Dillon, Mt
    Ratings: +1,722 / 0
    These people bitch about dogs, what do they do when a bear or a deer shits on their property. Go out and bury it??