Friday, November 15, 2013
Private Property Invasion Stifles Fly Fishing
A tranquil morning begins with fog lifting off the North Fork of the Payette ten river miles downstream from the namesake lake. Sadly, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to access beautiful places like this as river banks become private property, exclusive use by residents only or private recreation clubs. Gone are the days when you could stop a rancher in the field and ask for permission to fish through his land. Now miles and miles of Idaho river banks are owned or at least bordered by exclusive gated neighborhoods.
I spent 5 days in McCall, ID this summer. My initial excitement and hope of exploring the North Fork from Payette Lake to Cascade lake quickly turned into frustration as I encountered gates, signs, and warnings that made access to the river maddening. I found only two designated access points along the entire river, excluding bridges which provided just a handful more.
I hope the future of fly fishing is not, "Recreational fishing for the few and wealthy" while the masses are crammed into city parks and ponds. I better brush up on my bluegill and carp fishing I guess. Exclusionary trends like this remind me of western Europe where people have to pay private families or clubs for the access to fish. I value my public land. It is as American as apple pie. Should be not protect our right to access it?