Friday, February 28, 2014

Please respect Anglers.

Last year, I had a run in with a property owner.  Initially, it wasn't the property owner that had the issue with me fishing behind her house.  Since moving to the area, I had been fishing this stream for 14 years.  There were no issues.  It was pasture land when I first began fishing at the location on this stream.  Then a golf course and houses were built on it.  The golf course ran off the anglers but we fished at another spot not too far down from the golf course.

Since some of the homes were built on this stream, I had talked or said hello to the property owners.  However, a lady saw me behind her home and let her neighbor and fellow church member know she wasn't fond of it.  The gentleman she told lives next to the bridge where I parked and accessed the stream.  The bridge had been closed since about 1996 or 98.  I honestly think I drove over it once before it closed though.  It was built in 1910 - I think.  After I had seen the lady step out on her patio and re-enter the house, I saw people on the bridge prairie dogging like they were looking for something.  Not to much later, I exited the stream and the gentleman living next to the bridge was waiting on me.  He said that his neighbor was so scared of me fishing behind her house that she was too scared to come out.  And. that she wanted him to call the cops on me.  I told him that it was crazy and I had every right to be there.  He then said I was trespassing on his land because he owned the whole road now that the bridge as closed.  Then he told me that the land I walked through (the ditch) to access the stream represented by his realtor son and he was going to call the owner about me trespassing.  I told him I make calls every year and that I was fishing legal and that I didn't even fish on his neighbor lady's side of the stream.  He said he had my name and tag number.  I asked him my name and of course he didn't know it.  He then proceeded to say that he calls the cops all the time when people access the stream there because if his grandkids are out there swimming or fishing that when other folks mix with them, it just ain't right.

I mentioned that I would just access the stream from the highway.  He said his realtor son also owned the golf course on the stream at the highway and it was trespassing and he would call the cops.  I was polite the whole time.  Honest.  I figured he may have had some issues with anglers and we could work things out.  I took his phone number and he mentioned he would speak to his neighbor.

I went to speak to one of his neighbors that I'd spoken to in the past.  I guess he moved and his house was being renovated and going up for sale.  I went to speak with the lady neighbor with issues but she didn't come to the door.  She had security cameras everywhere.  I then went next door and the neighbors said I could be back there and it turns out the lady with issues didn't even want her next door neighbors in the stream behind her house and had let it be known in the past.  Then I asked if there were issues at the bridge because the gentleman told me about them.  They were pretty skeptical.

I called the stream biologist and he said I accessed the stream legally.  The game wardens told me the same thing on the phone.  The county said I parked legally and that the gentleman did not own the road and I wasn't trespassing.  The county road dept. also said that the fence the gentleman extended from his yard to the base of the bridge was illegal.  AND, that they were taking some of his front yard to build a new bridge and she was familiar with him.

So, I spoke with the gentleman several times on the phone and it turns out he never had a problem until his lady neighbor had issues with me.  I reminded him that in the past, I had waved and said hello to him and his wife many times as I parked as the bridge to fish.  On that day his neighbor had issues, he blew up on me and tried to scare me away.  His lady neighbor has issues.  He told me she gets scared easy and is paranoid.
Fish and game says I do need permission to fish there because those neighbors own to the middle of the stream.  I technically had permission and can go back but would have to tiptoe around a certain property.  Fish and game says to park on the other side of the stream and access there.  Quite frankly, I'm not certain about keeping my bond with that stream.  Not all the lots on the stream have been sold and I would have to ask them or they would freak out or eventually have issues with people down at the new bridge.  It's a great spot but I can acces about a mile down from there or head another direction at an access about 300 yards north.

The gentleman says he spoke with his lady neighbor and she was not happy that I spoke with her neighbors and just about blew her top and partly because she has issue with them on the stream too.  I really wish that the gentleman had approached me in a respectful manner instead of trying to run me off and threatening to call the law and accusing me of trespassing and that his other family member is a member of the local law enforcement.

I spoke with a local outdoor writer about the possibility of writing an article about respecting anglers and property owners respecting each other.  Didn't happen.  I would try to fish there again.  In speaking with a local warden and then the sherriff's dept. about accessing the stream, I let them know the lady neighbor may call the cops on me - even if I didn't fish on her property.  But, I just can't bring myself to fish with peeping Toms learing at me from behind curtains and waiting for me to slip up.

So, I beg to you readers out there who are riparian owners, please don't be judgemental of fishermen because we aren't all the same.  Not all of us have a cooler of beer or drop litter.  We aren't at all intersted about stealing construction equipment and supplies (another story).  And to you anglers, respect landowners because it only takes one idiot to get an access shut down.


  1. Seems I remember reading a post back when this incident occurred that you had written. Water rights and Access rights are really becoming a problem. I have heard a number of complaints similar to yours here in Northern Colorado. It's a tough decision as to what to do, even if you know you are in the right. That being said, it is a shame that effective communication seems less and less a valuable resource in what attempts are made to negotiate results on issues like this.

    1. I was so burned up about it, An amazing spot to fish. One freaked out neighbor with cameras pointed at the front door and a husband who does private security for gated communities and mansions . . .

  2. Sorry to hear about your issues with ridiculous landowners. I fortunately haven't ever really run into any issues... the occasional dirty look, but not much else. Here in central AL, a lot of access is questionably shut off by the local water company (Birmingham Water Works)... and it all seems very questionable from a legal standpoint... in my humble opinion... but who's gonna question it... poor fisherman who try to get into the river at public access points or the local kids who just wanna have fun in the river? I think they've just decided they own every inch of a public waterway and have put up signs so they won't have to deal with any kids... you know the fear of liability crap... what if a kid drowns? I could go on and on, but some very questionable practices are in place down here... and I really think it's just a matter of no one challenging their "authority." Be glad you don't have a huge monopoly of a local water company trying to control access... it could be worse than these small property owners.

    1. That stinks. The sherriff's department shut down one access because of too much crime. The conservation department said I could still walk down to it though. I can relate to you. Every year, I lose accesses because of different reasons. Finding a way in is part of the adventure.

  3. Sounds like a familiar story. I had a similar experience several years ago, see: . After countless conversations with town and MNR officials it was determined we were well within our rights to access this small lake, but the reality of the situation was that, for me, it wasn't worth the hassle of explaining my story to the police every time we went there. The end result was that I took the anonymous internet coward's approach and posted a Google map of the area and since then there has been a steady flow of urban anglers pissing off the land owners, town officials and police.