A trout stream was recently posted as private property. Is it legal to still fish it if I stay in the water and never leave the stream or walk on the land? I asked for permission but was denied. Just wondering.........
is it legal?
Just remember, Wisconsin has over 13,000 miles of designated trout streams. Finding a place to fish without conflict isn’t all that hard. I also understand that I don’t know where you are located, so that could change things a little bit.
Fair enough! I'd always heard to the high water mark, but this is good to know! means I can still make it to a spot that's now posted if I'm willing to put in the time and effort!
Not only that, but they have harassment laws in favor of the fisherman too...
Da Finn 55,
I suggest you report these dudes to the WDNR or local game warden - save yourself getting arrested or ticketed by some local sheriff or warden who does not know the law. Look at the Wade decision from the 1800s!
HockeyGuy39, Your comment is inaccurate. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has consistently held going back to the 1800s that, "Members of the public may use any exposed shore area of a stream without the permission of the riparian (i.e., landowner) only if it is necessary to exit the body of water to bypass an obstruction." There is a long history in the law and many cases on the topic. They make for interesting reading and a number of "what if" scenarios even for non-attorneys. Owners of the adjacent land own to the center-line of the stream but that right is subject to the State's Public Trust which allows fisherman to wade in the stream AND to exit the stream to bypass an obstruction.
You are legal if feet are wet. You also can take path of least resistance around obstruction. Landowner can't do anything if you follow those rules.
I think I would meet your local warden at this place.
From the WDNR...
(how I always understood - law now)
Navigability determines whether a water body is public or private. Navigable streams are public waters. Because navigable waters are public, they may be used for fishing, provided public access is available, or you have the permission of the landowner to cross their property to reach the water...
Effective September 1, 2001, people using these waterways will, for the most part, have to return to the old "keep your feet wet" test, as created by the Wisconsin Supreme Court...
Members of the public may use any exposed shore area of a stream without the permission of the riparian (i.e., landowner) only if it is necessary to exit the body of water to bypass an obstruction. In addition, a member of the public may not enter the exposed shore area except:
- from the water,
- from a point of public access on the stream, or
- with the permission of the riparian (i.e., landowner).
Obstructions could consist of trees or rocks, shallow water for boaters or deep water for wading trout anglers. The bypass should be by the shortest possible route...
While you can stay wet and be legal, it would not shock me one bit if you had to climb out of the water to safely pass an obstruction. Then you're no longer legal unfortunately. This is also assuming you're accessing the property via the stream from public access to the water or private land you DO have permission to be on.