I was just wondering if anybody knows about the property rights issue at the beach at Olalla? The sea-run article mentions it, as do the guys at Morning Hatch. I would like to know if I can fish there or not. Thank you ahead of time for any info.
Fish till ya drop.
Then suck it up
and fish the evening hatch.

ALL saltwater beaches below the line of mean high tide are public domain and leagally accessable to anyone unless posted closed by a state or government agency.
Stand up for your rights or you will eventually loose them to the filthy rich. Like the recent California issue, they would like to make our public beaches their private playground. :REALLYMAD

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Well, there is one problem with Olalla. Yes, there is the public beach aspect fishnfella mentioned. But ONE BIG problem. There are property owners who have been paying taxes on the property under the water and out on the beaches there for quite a few decades. I deliver out there quite a bit, and have access to most of the private beaches out there thanks to my job.

I'll say this, I agree that if it's a waterway, we should have access to it. BUT, if these people have been paying taxes on these properties for all these years, shouldn't they be restituted pay for "us" fishing it and taking it over? I know alot of these people, and they've been actually really good about letting people access it. But they've become a bit unreasonable since so many people have left trash all over, and made the "public access" they created unbearable to look at. I fish that area alot while I'm on route, especially by Al's when tide is right. But, you have to give those landowners a break. Most of those properties underwater have been deeded since the turn of last century. The state doesn't want to buy them out, so now what? If they are paying for it, it's theirs.

But, there are some awesome beaches, but all private. Maybe if one of you guys want to be my helper this year, I can run you to some of the private beaches that way. :)

You haven't lived until you've run a cataraft. Friends don't let friends run Outcasts.
like steelheader said, propeety rights, I follow it in the paper hear alot, live in the area, there liabal if someone gets hurt and sues them, so they want no part of it, thats one big reason it closed, the county did not want to buy it. people still use the launch with the fall salmon runs and every new years day they have the olalla polar bear jump. besides the fishin aint that great there if your comin from seattle, it can be but was never much imprensed. alot of septic problems along the upper reaches of olalla creek have done the toll on those kind of fish. but there still there. they did a survey for the most healthiest creeks around here it was one of the last. Ben
Do you know which of the creeks around the sound were listed as the most healthy? Do you have any resources to which you could direct me?
The Public Trust Doctrine describes the state's, and therefore the public's, right to all the navigable waters of Washington state. This is historically described as the high water mark. Navigable waters are any place you can float a boat.

Back in the 1870's or so, WA began selling beach property to individuals as a means of generating revenue and to enable folks who didn't reside on waterfronts to have unrestricted access to their own shellfish beds. The state stopped selling beaches around 1971. The current situation at Olalla is the result of one of those sales. The property limits would be clearly described in the owner's deed and could actually include the intertidal zone out to the low water mark but, again, one would have to review the actual deed to get an accurate description of the property boundaries. If one was so inclined, all deeds are public records and can be reviewed at the respective County Courthouse Public Records Section, Kitsap County in this case.

As was mentioned above, Olalla is where folks jump off the bridge every Jan 1 to get their refreshing start on the new year - I build a fire in the fireplace and enjoy a quality brandy instead, but to each his own. The owner of the Olalla beach area apparently became concerned with personal liability should someone injure themselves on her property and therefore exercised her property owner's right to post her section of beach as "No Trespassing." That tradition would have been history, but enough folks pressed to keep the tradition, the County apparently interceded and the owner now allows the jump-in-the-drink celebration to go forth but with some very clear and specific signed disclaimers that eliminates ANY responsibility on her part. The beach, however, remains posted the remainder of the year probably because of the amount of litter as was also mentioned.

Since the Public Trust doctrine gives citizens the right to use all the navigable waters, the best way to fish Olalla would be by boat. The boat launch at Olalla was fenced in but the owner has since removed the fence it appears to allow launch and recovery there - wouldn't want to try it at low tide in a fiberglass boat, however. The actual launch may possibly be owned/managed by Kitsap County which could have something to do with the fence removal, but I could be wrong on that. Second to fishing from a boat, one could park further down the road, wade into the water and then go parallel to the beach toward the channel; I doubt you would receive any challenges but, if you did, could say you waded in through the water and didn't cross the beach. Not saying this is a "rock solid" legal alternative, but one that gets you there without walking on her beach. NOTE: THIS IS NOT ADVICE, JUST ONE PERSON'S THOUGHTS.
I beleive that I Washington, beach-front property owners can own the beach all the way to the LOW-water mark. It's about shellfish rights. They can not not stop you from floating a boat over it at high tide, but the Public Trust only gives you right of access to the water. You could swim around I suppose, but as soon as your feet touch the bottom, you'd be technically tresspassing.

On a gut-level I support access, and the HIGH-water stuff is hard enough to take when you're talking about beaches (as an ex California beach kid/sufer, I'm a veteran of those access wars). I'm not sure how much sympathy I have for people who have usurped what should rightly be considered public property just because they've been paying taxes on it (isn't that just called a bad investment?), but some of these people do have working shellfish beds, which certainly does put another wrinkle in the thing (never mind whether or not it's OK to go wading/stomping around on oyster beds so we can entertain ourselves).

Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
I'll say this much, if I pay for something, and am taxed on it, I do feel I own it, and should be made "whole" by some sort of cash settlement. I own my own house, and if the city decides to take part of it, I should be paid for the worth of what they took. These people, whether it be right or wrong, bought these properties. They paid cash for them and have paid taxes on them. So, if you have a boat, you have access to it on high tide. But don't anchor, you'll be trespassing. And at low tide, LOL, you ain't going nowhere. Low tide you could drag a small 12' boat maybe. But anything with any weight and you're SOL. The boat launch is not county run, it is owned by property owner. They did have it completely closed off, but I do believe John (the owner's of Al's) and some local parts of the community persuaded the property owners to let boats and such come through. Without the traffic coming through, no money comes into the community. Since Al's is so close to the water, they get alot of boat traffic.

But, as it was said before, the county had a chance to buy up the property. They didn't, so it's privately owned. Most of these people have OLD deeds giving them rights to the riverbed. From what I've heard, there is actually a couple parcels in the middle of the stream owned by other people (I know, sounds stupid, but heard it from a reliable source in Olalla). I feel, if the government wants to buy back the property they shouldn't have sold in the first place, then that's fair.

You haven't lived until you've run a cataraft. Friends don't let friends run Outcasts.
if you go fishing there and cant, check out starvation heights on orchard rd. right around the corner heading towards port orchard, not much to see but some tales from the crypt stuff happened there.
Not trying to be contrary, but:

The "end of road" ramp is operated and maintained by the Port Of Bremerton which strongly suggests the launch itself is not privatly owned.

If she's paying taxes on the property, she might be interested in Washington's Current Use Program to obtain a property tax exemption. That entire area appears to be a riparian habitat which qualifies for the exemption. My guess is she's already done that.

Disagree that if one anchors in navigable waters which happens to be in the interidal zone off a privately owned beach they are trespassing. Exception would be if the area is clearly marked (e.g. buoys, nautical chart etc.) Otherwise, how would one know it was privately owned?

I'm not advocating trespassing or infringing on the owner's property rights, nor am I suggesting ways of getting around existing laws. Original question was for additional info on Olalla. There are plenty of other more rewarding places to fish in the area although just a few short years ago this one was pretty decent (and still is at times.)


Jerry Daschofsky

Staff member
Actually Greg, I'm talking about the creekside of the bridge. That is riverbed at that point, though it is heavily salt flux area of Olalla Creek. Ii haaven't heard aboout Port of Bremerton running it. I know all the upkeep has been done by local citienss. But Ii'm not talking beachside of the bridge. I meant anchoring up on the creek side. Which, at high tide is acesible by boat, but low tide is a no no. You'll be sitting there quite awhile.

You haven't lived until you've run a cataraft. Friends don't let friends run Outcasts.
I am new and super late to this conversation but I was fishing Olalla, beach side, and heard fish jumping on the creek side. I had the same question can I wade and cast on the creek side. I didn’t risk because i was unsure the Washington laws on creek access. Has anyone fished the creek side?

Old Man

Just an Old Man
I am new and super late to this conversation but I was fishing Olalla, beach side, and heard fish jumping on the creek side. I had the same question can I wade and cast on the creek side. I didn’t risk because i was unsure the Washington laws on creek access. Has anyone fished the creek side?
Thanks for opening a 15 year old thread.

Most of these people aren't around anymore. Beside the Regs change in the 15 year time frame.
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