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Deciphering private land/public land

Joined:
2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 299
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I have been "overhead scouting" (read: Google maps) a lot of the creeks I want to fish when I get back to PA, but given my lack of experience in these areas, to my eye it looks like a lot of the water runs through cuts of private farm land. Unless I'm missing something, I'm presuming that the thickets surround some of these creeks are part of someone's privately owned property.

Outside of calling the county tax assessor for each place I want to fish, is there any resource out there that spells out which sections of streams/runs/rivers/creeks are publicly accessible? Obviously, the areas that run through state game lands are a gimme, I just want figure out some of the other waters that look promising. Thanks for your help.

Posted on: 2013/8/26 22:36


Re: Deciphering private land/public land

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2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13363
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Yeah, we do have a lot of private land. We have state game lands, and in places, miles and miles of state forests. Also, on some of the best streams, the fish commission has bought it. In other cases, the fish commission has otherwise secured access (on stocked streams, they do stock private land, but not posted land).

Regarding private land, coming here you should know the law. PA is a implied consent state. That means if there are no "posted" or "no trespassing" signs, by law, you are allowed to assume the landowner has no problem with you being there. It is up to him to inform you. That also means putting enough signs up where you see one however you enter his land. That said, while this is the law, courtesy frowns upon it. If it is private, it is best to ask permission. Many of us do indeed knock on doors to ask permission to fish.

There are some regions of the state where people post more often than others. In some areas, if you actually knocked on a door and asked permission, that could be in poor form. "of course it's open, and you didn't have to bother me with stupid questions!".

The eastern side of the state in general is notably bad for people posting their property, though it's getting worse everywhere.

There is a new tool out called HuntingGPS maps. You can get them in Cabelas. They are maps for on your computer or GPS unit, and they accurately tell you what is private land and what is public. When public, they tell you what entity owns it, and on larger tracts it sometimes says the landowner on private land as well.

Posted on: 2013/8/27 6:30


Re: Deciphering private land/public land

Joined:
2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 299
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Great info and thanks. That implied consent sounds a lot like Utah. Same general rules and ettiquette apply: not posted, you can fish it, but asking is always a good bet to quell conflict.

So, basically, if I want to fish some of those awesome looking streams on the map, I'll excercise due dilligence and hopefully have a lot of fun without ruffling any feathers along the way.

Posted on: 2013/8/27 13:00


Re: Deciphering private land/public land

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13363
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There's actually misinformation on both sides. Private property advocates say it's illegal to trespass on private property without asking permission first. They are wrong (but it's still a good idea to follow). Hunters and fisherman sometimes say that signs have to be spaced ____ ft apart, signed, dated, have phone numbers, etc. They too are wrong (but it too is a good idea for landowners to follow).

The law is actually pretty simple. The starting point is that you are allowed on the land. The landowner must inform you in some manner that you aren't allowed. But if informed, you're informed, it doesn't matter how. If you see a single sign, you have been informed that this landowner doesn't want you there. Even if his boundaries aren't clear, once informed, it's on YOU to find out his boundaries! A note on your windshield, being verbally told, a fence designed to keep out people. All legally valid ways to inform you that you aren't allowed on said land.

Posted on: 2013/8/27 13:25


Re: Deciphering private land/public land

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2011/6/12 20:15
From Newville, PA
Posts: 405
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If you pull up the Class A list of http://www.fish.state.pa.us/ (search Class A), it will tell you the percent percent private open and percent private closed. Most streams are broken into sections with defined start and end points. If you are looking for non-class A water, check the stocking schedule. Stocking occurs only on land open to fishing.

Posted on: 2013/8/27 18:47
_________________
Time is but a stream we go fishing in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. It's thin current slides away, but eternity remains.
Henry David Thoreau


Re: Deciphering private land/public land

Joined:
2013/7/30 17:16
From Fairborn, OH
Posts: 299
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just_john -

Thanks for that bit of info. I do intend to fish mostly class A water as time and opportunity permits. I only have a day, so there won't be much time to re-pack my gear and move a bunch. So, I'll be factoring that in, as well.

Posted on: 2013/8/27 21:49


Re: Deciphering private land/public land

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13363
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Yeah, the class A list does list that. I'm not sure it's super accurate, but it gives you an idea.

My problem is that most of the trout streams I fish are neither class A nor stocked, at least in the sections I fish. So it's good old fashioned leg work.

Posted on: 2013/8/28 7:37


Re: Deciphering private land/public land
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2006/9/9 9:29
From Monessen, PA
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Unless you can determine that land is public, then you should assume it is private. You should also consider whether the landowner desires or will at least tolerate your presence.

The easiest way is to ask. Why rely upon implications from circumstance if you don't have to do so? Well, clearly, it is more convenient to the trespasser to assume permission rather than obtain it. And, as pcray advances, it may be more convenient to the landowner.

One method of judging the balance between these two attitudes is to examine the circumstances of where you plan to fish. Is it in someone's front or back yard? Is the area in use or more or less wild? Will you be visible from houses or other areas in use on the property? Is there signage of any kind? Is there evidence of public use such as parking pull-offs, etc?

The answer to these questions, and many others will tell you whether seeking permission or assuming it is the better practice. I have had more bad encounters with landowners by assuming permission than I ever did by trying to gain it beforehand. In fact, I have never been refused upon asking and have been thanked for doing so.

Posted on: 2013/8/28 8:00
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I don't like scrambled eggs, and I'm glad I don't, because if I liked them, I'd eat them, and I just hate them. --Hank


Re: Deciphering private land/public land

Joined:
2008/1/31 17:19
From Pretty much everywhere at some point, Thorndale today.
Posts: 13363
Offline
In more cases than not, it is better to ask. There are a few landowners who are ok with you fishing and would rather not be bothered with people knocking on their door to ask, but they are a minority. Also, there's a simple solution for that. "Fishing permitted" signs.

I know in the NC part of the state, it was fairly common to see "No hunting, fishing permitted" signs. Ambiguous, ain't it? Is that no hunting OR fishing? Or is it no hunting, but fishing is permitted? Signage is supposed to clear things up! But it actually means the latter, the landowner does not allow hunting, but does allow fishing.

Another common one is "no parking" by a pull off or yard. I often don't ask in that situation. Seems clear that the landowner doesn't care if you hunt or fish, else it'd be "no trespassing". But they were having problems with hunters and fishermen parking where they shouldn't, such as yards, blocking an access gate, etc. So park smarter, and walk a little longer if necessary.

Posted on: 2013/8/28 8:45






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