Fly-fishers snared in S. Yuba rumble
Those in pursuit of the perfect trout know they can hone their craft on the South Yuba River.
For years they have done so at Parks Bar, where Highway 20 crosses the river at the head of the Yuba Goldfields, a few miles past the Nevada County line.
But now a group calling itself the Yuba Outdoor Adventure Flyfishing Club has posted a large sign upstream from the bridge warning all anglers to keep out or be prosecuted.
Area fly-fishers laugh off the assertion, and the state Department of Fish and Game has cast doubt on the club’s claim. Actually finding the people behind the sign has proven challenging for would-be visitors – and The Union, for that matter.
Placer County Sheriff’s Office deputy and avid fly-fisherman Walt Chatham said he and “about 30 angry fishermen,” would like to know who put up the sign they have been ignoring.
The case brings to light the confusing laws and guidelines swirling around the issue of public access to waterways.
“As long as the waters are navigable (meaning you can float in it), no one can kick you out,” said Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Game. “If they can access it in a kayak, they’re all right.”
The wording of a landowner’s deed can make things a bit more specific, Foy said. If the deed states that the landowner’s property goes to mid-river, it can still be accessed by a watercraft coming from a public launching point. If the deed states the property goes to the river bank, the public can access it to “the mid-water mark.”
When asked what the “mid-water mark” means, Foy could only say, “That’s a good question.”
Foy said there are no specific fishing trespass laws in California and that Fish and Game is not in the business of enforcing property exclusions.
Phil Meyer at Sierra Fly Fishers in Auburn said fishers have told him the club is made up of 35 people who have leased a stretch of the river bank to get private access.
“The signs are up to warn people to not be above the high-water mark,” Meyer said. “People are a little miffed about the whole thing.”
Despite repeated attempts, The Union was unable to contact members or organizers of the Yuba Outdoor Adventure Flyfishing Club for this story.
Tony Dumont owns the Nevada City Anglers fly-fishing shop and said by state law, there’s nothing any club can do about others using the river adjacent to their property.
“Everybody has a right to use it,” Dumont said. “A lot of people have fished that river unimpeded for years. They have a right to post their property, but no one should vandalize their signs.”
However, someone already has.
Just below the bridge at the public access point, a small sign warning hunters and fishermen not to proceed upstream has been ripped out of the ground and thrown aside.
A large sign on the river bed above it read “Yuba Outdoor Adventure Flyfishing Club,” with smaller no-trespassing signs on its corners. That sign has been spray-painted over with these words: “Welcome fishermen. The river belongs to you!”
Or does it?
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