Muddied Rules Leave Utahns Wondering About Stream Access

Fish around the western U.S. enough and you soon begin to realize that despite the energy that gets poured into stream access law, the realities are all local. Whether or not you can fish unmolested on water that passes through private land may well depend on what kind of day the owner is having, or whether there is someone already making a living off the fishing there.
The recent failure of the Utah legislature to come up with clarity on the rights of private property owners versus those of anglers may have heightened the tensions, but ironically the number of trespass cases has actually gone down, according to Tom Wharton in the Salt Lake Tribune. “”It’s hard on both sides,’ [Brent Tanner, executive director of the Utah Cattlemen’s Association] said. ‘We need to be able to tell a landowner that this is what you can and can’t do. It’s hard for fishermen to know what they can and can’t do because the court left definitions a bit broad and undefined.'”

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  • Tom

    The court recognized the high water mark as the level to which all Utah residents have access to the water. pretty simple. it is the exact same rule of law that has been in effect in Montana for more than twenty years. as long as stream users (fishermen and floaters) stay in the water or on the very edge, they can legally utilize the stream. also, to say that the legislature wanted to clarify the law is a joke. landowners and other interests introduced legislation that would have SEVERELY restricted what waters and where the ruling applied. Utah folks need to be smart and use the new opportunity wisely and be vigilant to prevent any legal efforts to usurp their new rights.