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Access To Public Fishing Waters

How Much Access To Public Fishing Waters Is Right?


Jason Woods from Lexington, KY caught this nice smallmouth in Elkhorn Creek in Scott County KY.

Jason Woods from Lexington, Kentucky caught this nice smallmouth in Elkhorn Creek in Scott County KY. He says the water was very cold but the fish made it worth it.  

2009 Jason Woods licensed to About.com
Several years ago I hiked 11 miles round trip to catch cutthroat trout on the Yellowstone River. It was a tough hike and I was exhausted when I made it back to the car. Signs at the trail head said pack animals were allowed, but you could not ride them. No vehicles of any kind were allowed.

I thought it would be nice to ride a horse in or be able to drive to the fantastic fishing. Then I realized it would not be the same. If lots of folks had access to this place it would be just like the crowded fishing right by public roads through the park - holes where I did not bet a bite!

What do you think about public access to places such as this. It is a big controversy out west, and laws seem to be getting tougher. Some folks want no vehicular traffic at all, others want limited traffic, and some want it opened up completely.

This is just one problem of public access to fishing. Many rivers have limited or no access to the water because land owners have posted the banks. Many private ponds and lakes that were open to public fishing have been closed due to worries about law suits and because some people trash up the area they use. And some big lakes are ringed by private residences that block access.

You can access fishing waters in a variety of ways:

  • Ask Permission

    Talk with private pond and lake owners. You can locate them on a map of the area you live in. Most counties have online access to property owners with aerial maps. Approach in a friendly, nice manner, promise to respect the owners wishes and his land, and offer him some cleaned fish if he wants them.

  • Contact Your State DNR

    Most states have an online site for their Departments of Natural Resources and list public fishing areas. They also list state owned fishing piers on big lakes. Check for them in your area.

  • Look At Lake Maps

    Get a map of any big lakes near you. Look for boat ramps, marinas and bridges. You can usually fish from boat ramps and bridges, just obey the signs. In marinas ask permission. Some have designated fishing area, some even have fishing houses over the water where you can fish for a small fee.

  • Visit Local Tackle Stores

    Bait and tackle stores have a vested interest in you finding a place to fish. In many you can find out about places in the area to fish. Mom and pop type stores are the best. Be sure to buy your bait and tackle from stores that help you out.

You can find a place to fish. It may take a little work but it will be worth it.

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