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Fishing Access

ZpotasZpotas Posts: 11 Greenhorn
Members,
I am a part time resident in Spring Lake, Florida and a fishing access issue is brewing in our area. The Improvement District has a resolution dating back to mid-1994 that prohibits fishing in the cannels in our area. In the past year or two, signs were posted in the water areas concerning the fishing restriction which upset many of us who enjoy the art of fishing rather than golf. The resolution has not been enforced in the 5 years I have been here.
My less than professional search tells me that resolution 94-4 talks about liability issues and trespass but I think they are scare tactics toward illegal enforcement. Generally, resolutions don't have the same force of law as a ordinance which also has penalties attached so it amounts to a "I wish you wouldn't do this" rule and not really enforceable with a penalty.
I have been exposed to other issues like this for 60 years where property owners try to prevent sportsmen from water access in my home state of Michigan. Similar issues are found with access to beach fronts by property owners who believe they own the ocean. Although the fights have been long and drawn out, it appears that access to the public prevails in the end. I also believe there are access and protections offered to me throughout the purchase of the Florida fishing license.
There is a District Board meeting March 9, 2016 concerning these issues and I want to ask if anybody on this site can offer case history that would be of use to support continued public access to waterways in our area.
Zeno Potas

Replies

  • Turner River TerrorTurner River Terror Posts: 9,676 Admiral
    I would think if you were fishing from a boat , No problem.
    If the Water Management has an Easement ..then your not on Private Owners property.
    If your walking in someone's back yard and their Lot property line ends up at the bank , I'd say no unless ,said Boat.
    You should be able to see where the Owners Fence line stops , that's usually a good sign.
    Killin and Grillin :grin
  • ZpotasZpotas Posts: 11 Greenhorn
    From what I have been able to find, the Inprovement District has a 10 ft. Easement on each side of the canals. Of course, they are the people who wrote the restrictive resolution but I/we are the tax payers in that district. I have heard the rules of entering the waterways legally from roadways and remain legal as long as one stays in the high water lines of the canal/lakes.
    I ask these questions because I am part time here and Michigan and I hope somebody has the wisdom that they can pass onto me and the others who want to continue to fish these waters. Is it possible that my location is unique in this type of restrictions?
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 6,008 Admiral
    Are you sure it is the water management district rules (state land) and not the HOA? Something doesn't sound right.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • ZpotasZpotas Posts: 11 Greenhorn
    Not being the native resident to the area I rely on locals for some of this info as well as what I can get online. It appears the Spring Lake Improvement District was created to develop and improve housing and recreation in the area. Along with that came the canals that wicks off the water to keep these things dry. Once you have water, you get fish and someplace the angler comes along. That is where the problems start.
    The District Board and perhaps those who have influence over them needed to attempt to control the anglers through the Resolution 94-4 that prohibits fishing, boating, swimming etc. it hasn't been enforced in the years I have been here but gained some renewed attention this year when a resident complained about an angler in the area. That then triggered anglers to Challenge the Boards' right to empose these restrictions and a meeting to be held in early March.
    I for one as well as others are looking for info to support the rights of anglers to fish these waters. The long held belief that Florida's waters are open to its residents seems to fit but who has that rule. My Florida fishing license rules also offers us some relief from harassment but has some if's attached that need to be clarified. I should also mention that the Florida Statues states that "resolutions" are temporary actions of the body which doesn't seem to hold water if passed in 1994.
    Is there anybody here that has background, training, case study, information that we can use to challange these restrictions at the upcoming Board meeting?
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 6,008 Admiral
    So if you break these so called rules, what are they going to do? Arrest you? Fine you? What power do they have? If it is not state owned and it is privately held, the only thing I could see you getting charged with is trespass.

    Do you have a canoe? if you do and can enter the water without crossing someone else's private property then you might be alright. I do not know your situation but if it is all on privately (not state) help property then you may be screwed.

    What is the official name of this District Water Management entity?
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • ZpotasZpotas Posts: 11 Greenhorn
    Steve,
    This is not a water management district but the name is Spring Lake Improvement District. It controls about 20sq miles of land development along hwy 98 just southeast of the Sebring airport. I feel the same about the non-existent penalties of the resolution but being from out of town here, I am not sure I want to be a test case and seeking useful info about this problem. As a matter of fact, it appears there are many others who would like to know.
    Who has the rules that covers this so we came present the facts at the next board meeting?
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 6,008 Admiral
    Well if it is privately owned and maintained then I would think you are pretty much at their mercy. I don’t believe there are any rules that dictate how you make rules for your property, at least I hope there aren’t anyway. Maybe you could try to appeal to them to allow access to a certain area, not necessarily everywhere but, you might be required to police it? It only takes one jerk to ruin it for everyone. Find out why they won’t allow it and try to see if there is a remedy. Even though you and others may be for it you may still be a minority and sometimes there are people very outspoken about not allowing other folks to have a little fun. Trespass is the only thing they could charge you with. Good luck.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • ZpotasZpotas Posts: 11 Greenhorn
    Steve,
    Thanks for your input but as I see it, it can't be private property if they are collecting taxes from the home owners. My plan was to appeal the to them but having some sound rulings would help the fishing cause. The funny thing with the "resolution" is it speaks to liability and trespass issues but they set aside two areas that were open to fishing but are really no different than the contested areas. Smells Fishy!
    I am willing to hear additional views before the March 9, meeting.
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 6,008 Admiral
    Hmm, well it may be county or city owned then which is almost the same thing as privately owned, good luck, hope it works out in your favor.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • ZpotasZpotas Posts: 11 Greenhorn
    I guess it can't hurt to ask so here it goes. What ever happened to the age old fishing access rule that opens waterways to anybody who enters from a public roadway and remains in the high water area of the shoreline. This is the rule in Michigan and I have been told it is true here in Florida. Where can I find this rule in print to support the fishing cause.
    I can always claim my religious freedom in that I am following in the footsteps of Jesus who we all know was a fisherman too. Just saying!
  • ZpotasZpotas Posts: 11 Greenhorn
    I thought I sent a reply earlier but don't see it here so I will try again.
    I need to ask this question; what happened to the fishing access rule the allows an angler to enter a waterway from a public roadway and he will remain legal as long as he remains in the high water mark area of that body of water. This is the rule in Michigan and it has been repeated to me here in Florida. Where can I find that Rule so I can print it to reinforce the fishing cause here.
    I can always use my religious freedom logic by following in the footsteps of Jesus who, we all can agree, was a fisherman too.
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 6,008 Admiral
    Have you tried posting this question to the FWC? They have a link on their web page called AskFWC at the top of the home page, here is the link, http://mygovhelp.info/FLFWC/_cs/site.aspx I have used it and they usually reply within a day or two. I believe you are correct about entering via public land, but if these are man made canals in a community then that is different. If you are in a canoe then you should be okay but walking along a canal embankment behind someone's house could be a problem. I don't know anything about your area so it is hard to know what you could do.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • ZpotasZpotas Posts: 11 Greenhorn
    Access Update:
    I attended today's workshop concerning fishing in the canals in my area. Overall, the meeting went well with an exchange of information from both sides. The biggest issue came from those anglers who own property adjacent to the ponds and canals where they are being challenged by the community "do gooders" who feel it is their goal in life to report these minor issues. That led to one homeowner being cited for his fishing activities outside his back door. From the exchange of information I collected during that meeting, I can better understand the issues with fishing access.
    My original public access from a roadway and high water marks on the canals works in most areas but not so much here. The State rulings and laws state that the public access applies to navigable waters as of statehood (1848?) and does not apply to those waters that were improved or created afterwards. I was hoping there is a go-around when the improvement actually connects to a truly navigatable waterway but that hasn't panned out so far.
    The Board was receptive to the anglers and planned to work on the issues we presented and how they can accommodate both sides of the issues reported today. I must admit that I dropped the Jesus card in my remarks in that I got involved in fishing through my father and reinforced by my brothers. I included Oppie and Huck Finn and the fact that I had biblical info that Jesus were all fisherman. I asked them to tell me where along that timeline did fishing become a crime?
    I am hopeful that the outcome will be positive to the anglers in this area.
  • RollinRollin Posts: 1,549 Captain
    Some of that is funny, good luck.
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 6,008 Admiral
    All you can do is ask and hope for the best or just be a rebel and go for it. :)
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • ZpotasZpotas Posts: 11 Greenhorn
    I want to thank you for your words support on this issue but also wanted to share with you the info I collected that seemed to be so far away.
    I attached the website that gives the details concerning public access and hope you can share this with the next out of state angler who asks this access question.
    http://https://www.floridabar.org/divcom/jn/jnjournal01.nsf/Author/8D98D298C0060C0785256B110050FFB7
  • ZpotasZpotas Posts: 11 Greenhorn
    Steve,
    You have to understand that I am somewhat a rebel from Detroit. I watched Cool Hand Luke several time and I didn't want to end up in Luke's position over a couple of fish.
  • surfmansurfman WC FLPosts: 6,008 Admiral
    :)

    Link didn't work for me but, I do know that man made waterways are not the same as natural ones.
    Tight Lines, Steve
    My posts are my opinion only.

    Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for.  Will Rogers
  • ReelthiefReelthief Fort Lauderdale Posts: 127 Deckhand
    You need to get political on these matters. Down here (fort Lauderdale) they recently attempted to shut down surf fishing on the false pretence that it was a hazard (it was actually fanatical animal rights motivated). The fisherman united via social media and packed a commission meeting at which time they voiced their opinions. Needles to say the agenda was squashed and surf fishing remains. You may be surprised on how few people you are against on these issues. Often times it is just one or a few bloggers or people writing habitually to the mayor or their commissioner that gets the press. At the end of the day its all about votes. If your side shows up at commission meetings and sends e mails in force to your elected officials, you can bet they are going to take a look at your side of the issue. Good luck. Would like to get follow ups on this issue as it has the potential to affect many of us.
  • voltmanvoltman Posts: 145 Deckhand
    There is no state-wide law or rule that prohibits boaters from casting their lines under or near a dock or pier or fishing close to private property while on public waters. In fact, it is a violation to interfere with a person who is legally fishing or hunting on public waters or property. In general, boaters are allowed to fish around docks in saltwater as long they do not tie up to a private dock or impede boat traffic or access to and from the dock. There would be no "trespass" issue unless a boater set anchor on, or physically touched, privately owned land.
  • mannn123mannn123 Posts: 137 Deckhand
    FYI - the statute on interference of taking of fish only applies to "state-owned" waters (and WMA's)....which is a distinct difference from "public". Therefore, by way of example, it would not apply to canals of somewhere like Cape Coral, or in this case, it would not apply to the special district's waters of interest to the original poster

    As the same original poster has correctly learned, the state waters held in trust for the public are those that were navigable at the time of statehood, not those created later and definitely not to canals dug to be part of a drainage system. Property owned by an independent special district have a "public" aspect to them, but it can be regulated and, as a general proposition, the special district will have the power and authority to regulate or prohibit fishing.
  • ZpotasZpotas Posts: 11 Greenhorn
    Reel thief,
    I agree with you 100% in getting active in your rights. The same applies here with one, yes one, guy who believes it is his calling in life to prevent fishing because of a sign posted in the canal areas. I told the board to recind the resolution so they have nothing to support their calling. It may also prevent a future incident see this is a "stand your ground" state where different views could got way out of control.
    Thanks for your words of encouragement.
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