At least once a year I read a post about golf courses or folks who are interested in accessing private water. With so much water storage kept away from the open water casts it can be absolute torture to hardcore anglers. Less scrupulous folks may hop a fence or otherwise make a private water jump on the non-kosher scene. The “Ask First” policy goes right out the window with some people and this taints the image of fishing overall. There is a much better way to go about this. Let’s take a look at a few steps I employ in an attempt to gain access private water.
Write an introduction letter
The private property owner won’t know the difference between you versus all those people they run off on a semi-regular basis. It really helps your case if you put together a polite but brief introduction letter. Express your love for fishing and the style of fishing you wish to partake in while on this person’s property. Make sure to put your full name and contact info as well.
Waiver of Liability
Liability is a major issue when it comes to accessing private property. In many cases the property owner faces litigation and can lose everything if someone with a good lawyer gets hurt. Offering a signed waiver of liability can ease the fears of a respective landowner as well as show them you have their concerns in mind.
I have uploaded a “waiver light” form that is both brief and covers the basic liability. This is the version I offer first but may have to provide more disclaimers or fill out additional forms that they provide. This is not a bulletproof waiver and many examples exist on various free legal forms websites. Download link below. (I probably could have picked a better hosting platform.)
Consider what is in it for them?
It may seem selfish to keep all of that water for irrigation or farming and not let anyone fish. But there may be several good reasons as well as previous instances that have closed the public access fishing door at many locations. Then again it may just be as simple as making it worth the while of the property owner. I have offered everything from beer, my labor services and possibly even the promise of my next unborn child. Showing genuine intent to repay the favor in some way for this immense privilege is key to making this a beneficial situation for both parties. This conversation can take place at any time but I will try to slip something into the introduction letter that will sweeten the deal for the landowner or managing agency.
Send the letter (you never know until you try-prepare yourself for rejection)
All you have to do now is send the letter off in the mail or hand-deliver if more prudent in that particular case. Use your best judgment as to what method will work best for you. Prepare yourself to be turned down, ignored or otherwise flat out rejected most of the time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but you have very little to lose and everything to gain by asking first. If you trespass it could cost you at the very least a fine. Worst case you lose your fishing privilege.
“Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” Berretta theme song and a darn good philosophy overall.
Good luck and good fishing.