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Jimmie 12-01-2008 02:32 PM

Public vs. Private land.
When fishing how do you explore different areas of the river to fish in respect to whether you're on public land or private land?
Just wondered how big of an issue it is because of my experience level and planning to travel to FF.

Lambster 12-01-2008 07:50 PM

Re: Public vs. Private land.

When I first started out learning the rivers and streams here in Georgia I had to watch for no-Tresspassing signs because I would cut through the woods to the streams. Most of the time you check and see if theirs folks living in the area and get permission which helps alot!!! Tell them your flyfishing and you Catch & Release....... I've made alot of friends along the way by asking before I just walk through property!:D Also a Trout map that your DNR puts out helps show the streams and roads......... ask locals or a TU group. Tight lines.


liv2fish 12-02-2008 01:26 AM

Re: Public vs. Private land.
Laws vary state to state so you'll have to check into that first. In CO, people can own the river bottom but not the water so you can drift through anyones "property". Other states allow you to access the river as long as your access point is on public land. So you could walk into the water on public land and fish up or down stream through private land as long as you stayed in the river. I don't know what CA laws are but other posters may be able to help you with that. The land should also be clearly marked private (as far as I know) the property owner needs to post signs. If there are a lot of houses around chances are its private. The local DNR or fly shops should be able to give you maps or use streets as markers of what water is puplic vs. private. I love exploring new water (you never know whats around the next bend). Just get an idea of how many miles of public water you have to work with before exploring.

OldMan 12-02-2008 08:54 AM

Re: Public vs. Private land.
I agree with asking permission to fish on private waters. Owners don't want everybody trampling through their property, but if you present yourself in a responsible way, they'll let you fish. I have 7-8 spots I can fish now and I love the solitude.

Joining TU and attending meetings will give a lot of contacts for fishing spots too.

Ard 12-02-2008 09:52 AM

Re: Public vs. Private land.
Hi Jimmie,

A good start sometimes is to stick to areas that are proclaimed as Fly Fishing Only waters by the various state board of fisheries. Consulting the regulation booklets usually will clearly define those areas for you. These areas usually hold fish although the fish sometimes possess an uncanny skill for being able to discern between naturals and our imitations.

If you simply are driving and spot a likely looking stream that borders the roadway the best bet is to wait to spot a public access parking area. These methods may not yield the best results as far as solitude or quality of fishing but will keep you out of trouble. If your wallet can support it, hiring a guide out of a local fly shop will sometimes open up a treasure trove of areas that may in fact be open to the public but off the beaten path enough that you would never find them while just passing through.

If you have fishing at all close to home I would say to take a good close look at those opportunities prior to crossing the country looking for Valhalla. Some of the best places I've ever fished were close to my homes in various states where I have made my home. Many times anglers pass the obvious while they are caught up in the headlong rush to get to some highly recommended spot. Those are the places where you will often find people like me, those who want to feel that they found some hidden gem.

Good luck and by all means if you find your own little piece of heaven, don't advertise it!


Jimmie 12-02-2008 11:08 AM

Re: Public vs. Private land.
Thank You guys. That is all valuable information that I will put to good use.

peregrines 12-02-2008 12:44 PM

Re: Public vs. Private land.

Public vs private access is a big issue and the issue is far from clear in many cases, and varies from state to state.

Here’s a link to CA access laws- note that you may have access where a bridge or crossing over a stream exists and in many cases there might be pull outs for parking where there is an easement. Generally it seems that you’d have access along the streambed, and up to the high water mark on “navigable waters”. This does not mean you can cross private property to access water though, and you may have a problem parking even though there might be public access nearby.
American Whitewater - access:ca

Along with the excellent advice about getting specific info on access from CA F&G and fly only stretches, it’s always a good idea to pick up a Delormers Street Atlas to be able to scout around and find you way around. You can also find a lot of info on specific rivers on the internet once you’ve narrowed it down, and I’m sure that there are probably some good FF guidebooks on CA that folks on the board or in a local fly shop could recommend or you can do the google thing.


Jimmie 12-03-2008 10:21 AM

Re: Public vs. Private land.
Thank You peregrines. Appreciate the link that I've already put to good use.

peregrines 12-03-2008 11:13 AM

Re: Public vs. Private land.
Here’s a link to the CA F&G website’s interactive map. Their home page is also worth checking out for a variety of links, but this one has a ton of info that might be what you are looking for:
California Department of Fish & Game, California Fishing Passport

These links have profiles on some of the more popular CA rivers that gives some info on access, hatches and fishing tips:
California Rivers and Streams
California Fly Fishing
Kiene's Fly Shop - Reports

This fishing report might be helpful to get an idea of conditions on some water before you go:
Fly Fishing Reports - Northern California


Jimmie 12-03-2008 02:22 PM

Re: Public vs. Private land.
Wow, thanks again peregrines. Those were awesome links. Everyone of them went in "favorites". The last fishing report had me hypnotized looking at which flies were being used. Appreciate it.

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