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salvelinus fontinalis  
#1 Posted : Thursday, May 20, 2010 12:22:57 PM(UTC)
salvelinus fontinalis
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Joined: 4/1/2010(UTC)
Posts: 402

This was touched on in another thread a couple of weeks ago, but it's worth mentioning in its own thread. While it's always preferable to obtain permission first to fish trout streams that flow across private land, Wisconsin's stream access law is well-defined and has been upheld by a century's worth of court cases and is fairly liberal in comparison to many other states (most notably some Western states where water is privately owned). Bottom line, keep your feet wet and you're legal -- despite what some landowners would have you believe. Unlike Minnesota, you are allowed to leave the stream to circumvent obstacles -- from the WI DNR site:

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.


WI Stream Access Law

This might be something that the administrators might consider sticky-note or putting into an FAQ.

Edited by moderator Tuesday, June 1, 2010 6:35:21 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Revised post title

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Mark Dahlquist  
#2 Posted : Thursday, May 20, 2010 1:05:37 PM(UTC)
Mark Dahlquist
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Thanks for the reminder. I like Wisconsin's water acces law better than Minnesota.

In WI as long as you access from a public bridge and keep your feet wet you are cool. You can get out if the water is too deep or an obstruction. You can also touch land with your hands as long as your feet are wet (in the water).

In MN if there is an obstruction (fence, weir, downed tree) you are shit out of luck. You have to keep your feet wet. Technically you also cannot touch land with any part of your body. Grabbing the bank with your hand to stabilize yourself you technically are trespassing.

Ask landowner permission. In today's world of the Internet it is generally easy to ID landowners and find their number and call them. Most are cool. Most just want you to check in. Most common thing that ticks off landowners:

- Not asking permission and/or not being thanked.
- Leaving trash.
- Breaking or stretching fences.

Landowners pay big bucks for land on a trout stream. They also have steep taxes, especially in WI. Respect landowners. Do not feel entitled to their land just because it runs through a public waterway. I have six landowners that I actively call or email each time a day or two before. Most I now consider friends, even facebook friends. I send Christmas cards each year. I also usually stop by at least once a season and offer smoked trout and/or a 6-pack of beer. Understand some fish the river themselves. They would like it "untouched" a day or two prior. Some are staging their land for hunting in the spring and fall.

A simple phone call. Explain who you are and your intention. Offer to pick up trash. Ask of they have rules. Ask if they want to be contacted each time prior to fishing. 9/10 just says "Sure, go ahead and fish."




-Mark
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inland sweep  
#3 Posted : Thursday, May 20, 2010 1:12:48 PM(UTC)
inland sweep
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Joined: 5/14/2010(UTC)
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Location: Arena, WI

Well said Mark! I have only experienced one land owner who would not allow me to access the water from his property (which is his right)
99% of people in WI seem to enjoy the fact people are using the resource. I will always drop off some Capitol brewery beer and cheese for them. I also offer labor, I have helped out on the farm a few times when need be (im only 26 so why not) Because of this many of them let me hunt on their land and sometimes even DEER HUNT!!
Mark Dahlquist  
#4 Posted : Thursday, May 20, 2010 1:14:11 PM(UTC)
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What do you do if a landowner ignores you? There is one old timer that has a pasture stretch I want to fish. I have left him a half dozen voice mails over the past two years. I even wrote him a letter. Zero response. Each time I explain I want to fish his land, will not littler, will pick up trash, will not spook his cows. Etc.

Last night I told him I am coming. I gave a description of my vehicle. Told him when to expect me. Explain I mean no harm. His land is heavily posted and fenced. Should I not fish this until I get his blessing? Likely going for it tonight. Hope he does not send a CO after me.

BTW landowners are not requires to post their land (no trespassing). Also any type of fence can be considered the same as a no trespassing sign.
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salvelinus fontinalis  
#5 Posted : Thursday, May 20, 2010 1:47:29 PM(UTC)
salvelinus fontinalis
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Mark Dahlquist wrote:
What do you do if a landowner ignores you? There is one old timer that has a pasture stretch I want to fish. I have left him a half dozen voice mails over the past two years. I even wrote him a letter. Zero response. Each time I explain I want to fish his land, will not littler, will pick up trash, will not spook his cows. Etc.

Last night I told him I am coming. I gave a description of my vehicle. Told him when to expect me. Explain I mean no harm. His land is heavily posted and fenced. Should I not fish this until I get his blessing? Likely going for it tonight. Hope he does not send a CO after me.

BTW landowners are not requires to post their land (no trespassing). Also any type of fence can be considered the same as a no trespassing sign.




I guess you could always knock on his door. If your intent is to cross his property, then obviously you have to get permission to be able to legally do so...the fact that he hasn't responded to your requests are the same as rejecting them. However, if you can get to that stretch from a public access point and keep your feet wet, you certainly have the legal right to do so...though you do have to weigh that right against angler/landowner relations. Wisconsin, more so than any other state that I'm aware of, does promote the rights of recreational users of navigable streams because they recognize the fact that it is a state resource held in trust for the public (hence the Public Trust Doctrine of the Northwest Ordinance).

You're correct that in Wisconsin that landowners don't need to post their property against trespass like you do in Minnesota -- that law has been on the books since the mid-1990s. In Minnesota, any ag land and fenced property is considered "posted".

Edited by user Thursday, May 20, 2010 1:49:05 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Mark Dahlquist  
#6 Posted : Monday, May 24, 2010 6:03:43 AM(UTC)
Mark Dahlquist
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Brook trout I learned something here, thanks! For MN other than agriculture not fenced landowners are required to post? Post must be signed and dated. When do they expire? Though fairly shore like 1.5 or 2.0 years? In MN can you be ticketed de trespassing if the land is ni posted, fenced, ag et?

I decided not to fish the stretch I am after. Brook trout is right, I need to just knock on their door. I learned my landowner's family knows theirs and suggested bringing them beer. I will give that a whirl one of these days.
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salvelinus fontinalis  
#7 Posted : Monday, May 24, 2010 6:44:21 AM(UTC)
salvelinus fontinalis
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Mark Dahlquist wrote:
Brook trout I learned something here, thanks! For MN other than agriculture not fenced landowners are required to post? Post must be signed and dated. When do they expire? Though fairly shore like 1.5 or 2.0 years? In MN can you be ticketed de trespassing if the land is ni posted, fenced, ag et?

I decided not to fish the stretch I am after. Brook trout is right, I need to just knock on their door. I learned my landowner's family knows theirs and suggested bringing them beer. I will give that a whirl one of these days.


To my knowledge, the signage doesn't "expire" -- it's perpetual as long as the signs are legible and the signature on the sign is that of the current landowner or lessee of the property.

Edited by user Monday, May 24, 2010 6:49:32 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Mark Dahlquist  
#8 Posted : Monday, May 24, 2010 6:52:28 AM(UTC)
Mark Dahlquist
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Found this:

MINNESOTA: Law allows hunters to trespass unless no trespassing signs are posted along the BOUNDARIES every 1000 feet or less, or in wooded areas where boundaries are less clear, at intervals of 500 feet or less, or at the primary corners of each parcel of land and at access roads or trails at points of entrance. Furthermore, the law mandates that the lettering should be at least two inches high and the name and phone number of the landowner or occupant should be listed. Lands that are cropped or grazed and show signs of tillage, crops, crop residue, or fencing for livestock containment do not require posting of signs. Hunters must ask permission to enter these lands. A person on foot may, without permission of the owner, enter land to retrieve a wounded animal that was lawfully shot. The hunter must leave the land immediately after retrieving the wounded game. A person on foot may, without permission of the owner, enter private land without a firearm to retrieve a hunting dog. After retrieving the dog, the person must immediately leave the premises.

Brook trout I think you are right. Sign must be legible to be effective.
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Mark Dahlquist  
#9 Posted : Monday, May 24, 2010 9:02:09 AM(UTC)
Mark Dahlquist
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Was thanked: 6 time(s) in 4 post(s)
Top landowner complaints:

1. Not asking permission. Not being thanked.
2. Littering. Beer cans, pop cans, water bottles, worm containers.
3. Poor parking. Park far off the road. Do not block access to a Farmer's field.
4. Broken or stretched fences.

Some landowners are very protective of their land. One of my landowners calls on trespassers all the time. If people would just ask first they would be granted access. Do not be afraid to contact landowners. Majority are receptive. They just want you to check in.

BTW if I get hurt on land in MN or WI, can the landowner be held accountable?

Edited by user Monday, May 24, 2010 9:03:29 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

-Mark
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salvelinus fontinalis  
#10 Posted : Monday, May 24, 2010 9:43:10 AM(UTC)
salvelinus fontinalis
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 4/1/2010(UTC)
Posts: 402

Mark Dahlquist wrote:

BTW if I get hurt on land in MN or WI, can the landowner be held accountable?


In Wisconsin, landowners are protected against liability under the "Berry Picker Law" in most cases.
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