Trespassing Laws


New Member
Hello I have moved here recently form Wisconsin. Could someone please post an overview of how the trespassing laws affect moving along stream beds?

In Wisconsin all streambeds of navigatable water (navigatable water is defined as water that a canoe can be floated in even if that is only in times of flood) are public property. The general rule is that as long as your feet are wet your safe.

Is it similar here?

--Mike Bartnik
My impression is that it is similar here. In fact I think the public has right of way all the way up to the mean high water mark; that is, you can actually get out of your boat and fish from the gravel bars where the river crosses or abuts private property. If I'm wrong I hope someone else wil catch it and pipe up. (As I understand it in some states you only have the right to use the waterway itself. I think that's the case in Oregon.) Now the thing to keep in mind is that the finer points seem to be open to some interpretation, and the interpretation is often being done by an armed landowner. In other words, I'm not sure how far I'd press the point, particularly on smaller streams on posted property.

The other issue of course is access to the stream channel. As far as I know you have no right to cross private property to reach the "navigable" water. Now on shorelines around Puget Sound, landowners apparently have rights all the way to the mean LOW tide line (something about shellfish rights), so they can effectively keep you off the beach, or even from wading, in front of their property.

The good news is that here in Washington, and all over the west, there is all kinds of public water on public land that offers superb fishing. You could spend a lifetime without making it an issue.

Chris Scoones

Staff member
Hi Mike,

Welcome to the State and the forum.

The subject came up a while back after a home owner got a little pissy. DreDGeR brought up some good points applicable to this thread.

[|"Angry Homeowner"]


Rob Blomquist

Formerly Tight Loops
It is the same way here, but remember, it is better to move on than argue with many of the libertarians and "property rights" folks that live in this state.

I would hate to get a bullet in my back, or a dog sic'd on me, even if I was right. :HMMM



New Member
Thanks for the replys. I forgot about the high water mark. It's the same in Wisconsin.

As a personal rule I always give way to a landowner. I try to avoid fishing in someones back yard as much as possible.

It's was always easy in the South West part of Wisconsin where I'm from. The Department of Natural Resources and Trout Unlimited have worked hard for many years repairing the small spring creeks there. The banks of most of them are public property or public easment.

--Mike Bartnik