Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stand thy ground

Not positive what it is, but I suspect it's that I don't shy away from notorious places (Mitchell Slough, the Ruby River, Ted Turner's properties, etc.). I'll even admit I sometimes enjoy a good ranch-hand/landowner encounter fishing within Montana's high-water marks, but most often it's a shit-show that can ruin a good day.

I've had two so run-ins so far this year (one with multiple encounters), and have had a good number over the years. They're often confrontational and angry - it's always a big "here we go again" moment when I see someone on their way.

But since I fish these places, it's important to be sure that when approached I am doing things legally and I am armed with knowledge. I encourage everyone to patronize any fishing spot you've heard is patrolled, but know the law (for the record, it's not 10 feet nor two feet - both of which I've heard anglers say - it's WITHIN the high-water mark). The enemy wins when anglers avoid.

Some tips for such situations:
  • Know the law and be within it. Be able to explain the law accurately showing that you are not ignorant and/or wrong (click here for a primer).
  • Be polite but firm, and try to deescalate the situation. 
  • If the Napoleon-complexed wiener won't let it go, it might be best to take off for the day. Maintain, however, that you are in the right and come back another day.
  • Avoid taking photos, tempting as it might be, of the confronter. This will definitely escalate tensions.
  • If any threat is levied or weapon brandished, get the eff out and notify the authorities. 
It's easier to avoid these places sometimes, but there's often decent fishing to be had where others fail to go. For good fishing and defense of our rights, go fish.


David Payne said...

Some great advice and I applaude your efforts to inform. As an Outfitter and sportsman I firmly support continued legal access to Montana's world-class fishing. I am also a landowner and understand too well the issues that arise when one owns a parcel of farm land that is bordered by an outstanding trout stream. As an outfitter, I have been approached by ignorant fools and been asked to move my boat off of their land when it was clearly floating on the water. I've also spent hours cleaning up garbage and repairing damage to fences in areas that have never seen a drop of river water. Most pissing matches can be avoided. It takes knowledge and respect and for some, that is a pretty lofty standard.

Joshua Bergan said...

I have also seen anglers abuse stream access, which is why in some cases I can sympathize with the ranchers and landowners. But in most of my encounters, it's basically been harassment. I'll even link to this post where I had an encounter was I was wrong, to be fair. Better understanding on both sides will lead to a better Montana, imo.

Ivan said...

Great tips, Josh. They sound very familiar. Almost like I've seen them in action...

Joshua Bergan said...

"I like your blog.... You can check this off your list..." Haha. And then the "...does that mean I can go piss in my neighbor's yard?....I got no respect for m-f'ers like you..." Always fun.

Will Jordan said...

81 Most landowners with river/stream frontage - including those harassing anglers - surely know the particulars of MT's stream access laws.

Call FWP and get the landowner slapped with an angler harassment citation.

I disagree with the suggestion to refrain from taking photos for fear of escalating the situation. Even better, take video w/ audio (cell phone) and let the landowner know that you are doing so.

Joshua Bergan said...

Sir, I don't want any trouble. I'm just trying to blog here, and I've stayed within my rights at all points.