private property lines

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private property lines

Postby jaegerfisherman » Mon Nov 18, 2013 2:11 pm

I've been hunting salt water for a while on public but am thinking of moving out on the tide flats in a boat. A couple questions. How far out does a landowner own if they own the tide flats? Is it mean low water? How do they know where that is? Seems like a big gray area to me. Can u anchor if they own the tide flats? How about rivers? I know private landowners don't own the middle of the river. Any help would be great. Thanks.
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Re: private property lines

Postby ScaupHunter » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:11 pm

Washington State rivers are all public below the mean high water mark. Tide lands and ownership varies from place to place. There are private clam beds, etc.... You can find out who owns the tidelands by checking the county assessor maps online. Anchoring on privately owned tidelands is trespassing. It is criminal trespass with a weapon in hand. Don't do it unless you know the land is public.
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Re: private property lines

Postby h2ofowlr » Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:02 am

If they continue to pay taxes on it, it is typically to the mean tide. 0.0 which can extend way out in the Skagit flats. Look at the accessors site to verify.
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Re: private property lines

Postby somethinsmellsfishy » Thu Nov 21, 2013 6:20 pm

ScaupHunter wrote:Washington State rivers are all public below the mean high water mark. Tide lands and ownership varies from place to place. There are private clam beds, etc.... You can find out who owns the tidelands by checking the county assessor maps online. Anchoring on privately owned tidelands is trespassing. It is criminal trespass with a weapon in hand. Don't do it unless you know the land is public.


Not exactly true, I have a buddy, ex guide that was ticketed for anchoring on the Icicle in Leavonworth. He was definitely below the high tide mark.

WA has some different rules.


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Re: private property lines

Postby TCFarmer » Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:34 am

ScaupHunter wrote:Washington State rivers are all public below the mean high water mark. Tide lands and ownership varies from place to place. There are private clam beds, etc.... You can find out who owns the tidelands by checking the county assessor maps online. Anchoring on privately owned tidelands is trespassing. It is criminal trespass with a weapon in hand. Don't do it unless you know the land is public.


Navigable rivers are public below high water. Non-navigable are technically public, but the river bed is private property.
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Re: private property lines

Postby CrackerJackShot » Fri Nov 22, 2013 8:34 pm

Yeah I was actually JUST about to post on this exact subject. I had a guy tell me today that I was trespassing because I was smack dab in the middle of a river bed at the mouth where it joins the bay. Most definitely above the high water mark as when the tide went out I dropped in depth. I've NEVER heard of an "owned" river if it's navigable.
So a question there is even though the property owner owns the tidelands, can't you basically anchor anywhere in the main river channel?
Another question for this is, how can you find to WHAT tide they own. Because based on the year that the land was first purchased it can either be to extreme low tide or to mean waterline. Furthermore HOW can this even be enforced? Just sounds like a big cluster f**** if you ask me. Just a way that land owners can hastle you while you are trying your best to obey the law. I just don't even see how proof can be made about where you were vs. the property line. Anybody have some more experienced insight into this one?
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Re: private property lines

Postby CrackerJackShot » Fri Nov 22, 2013 8:54 pm

And just to answer on the Washington rivers rule. The state actually only owns the river and the beds as a part of the Public Trust Doctrine, they have no right to sell the rivers or the river bed. The navigability of a river is purely based on the ability to navigate a river. There is no stipulation on size or depth of the river, nor the size of the vessel or whether or not it is motorized. Basically if you can drift a tiny kayak down it, it's navigable.
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Re: private property lines

Postby somethinsmellsfishy » Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:56 pm

CrackerJackShot wrote:Yeah I was actually JUST about to post on this exact subject. I had a guy tell me today that I was trespassing because I was smack dab in the middle of a river bed at the mouth where it joins the bay. Most definitely above the high water mark as when the tide went out I dropped in depth. I've NEVER heard of an "owned" river if it's navigable.
So a question there is even though the property owner owns the tidelands, can't you basically anchor anywhere in the main river channel?
Another question for this is, how can you find to WHAT tide they own. Because based on the year that the land was first purchased it can either be to extreme low tide or to mean waterline. Furthermore HOW can this even be enforced? Just sounds like a big cluster f**** if you ask me. Just a way that land owners can hastle you while you are trying your best to obey the law. I just don't even see how proof can be made about where you were vs. the property line. Anybody have some more experienced insight into this one?


Had a guy threaten me with his two dobermans while I was fishing on the Nooksack , so I asked him if he had a "dog stringer" with him so he could take his dogs back home with him! Never had a problem with him again.

Sometimes it's tough just trying to do the right thing.


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Re: private property lines

Postby drunkduck » Fri Nov 29, 2013 8:14 pm

Spent most of yesterday researching this and WA has lots of grey were this is concerned. As per the public trust doctrine, to me the tidelands can be owned to the extreme low water mark based on the year of the sale. High water in other cases. But when the tide comes in you are now using navigable waters, and from the sounds of the public trust doctrine, anchoring would be okay.

Buddy was hunting a spot I hunted the day before and the owner came over and yelled at him he was trespassing, fortunately he just finished filling his limit while this guy who also was hunting fired one or two shots. Guy claimed he owned out 500 yds into the tidelands which were under 8 feet of water at the time. I checked the accessors maps and he is not the legal owner of the tidelands off his property. The name my buddy gave me matched the owner of the land but not the tideland parcels.

Will be checking with another friend a retired attorney who used to be a property attorney, so hopefully will have more skinny. Right now after doing all the reading it sounds pretty unenforceable. I had a great shoot with my nephew and plan on returning to that spot again, Will be armed with maps and names and hopefully a few statutes as well. Just in case.

Read pg 27 of the public trust doctrine or better yet read the whole thing, 74 pages. WA has not made a decision, one way or the other, but from my interpretation, any thing above the tidelands is good, and you have the ability to fish our fowl.
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Re: private property lines

Postby crazyquacked » Sat Nov 30, 2013 4:13 pm

CrackerJack you are wrong. I wont get into the rest of this thread, it is a confusing can of worms.
But I can float anything up to a 16 foot boat down most of the Little Spokane River and the Chain Lakes that are on it. It is private, all of it except the part that runs through the state park. You have NO ACCESS unless you are a property owner.
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Re: private property lines

Postby CrackerJackShot » Mon Dec 02, 2013 1:22 am

Ok I am willing to accept the idea that I may be wrong. Though I would really appreciate SOMETHING in state or federal legislature as some kind of a reference. I'm not meaning to argue or get into some kind of tussle over it. However, everything that I have read states that the beds and and waters of navigable waterways are owned by the state and they do NOT have the authority to sell the water or the bed's of a river. The public trust doctrine clearly states that. So where is the amendment that says "except for these rivers", or "except for this state"? All I have heard so far after getting to this state is how you CAN'T go here, and you CAN'T do this. But not a SINGLE person has given me any evidence. They'll tell me that somebody will come out and yell at me, but that is hardly proof. Like I said, it is entirely possible that such documents exist and I have just not found them. So does anybody have anything to back up those statements?
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Re: private property lines

Postby crazyquacked » Mon Dec 02, 2013 10:59 am

Crackerjack,
My reply sounded more harsh than I meant it.
The reason I didnt respond to the rest of the thread, is because I dont have the references in mind to prove my point. I had read somewhere, but I dont remember where, that navigable water does NOT just mean that you can float a boat down it. It has to be declared navigable by the state. Many guys use the high water rule to justify floating their boat back into privately owned sloughs. Also illegal.
I do know the deal on the Little Spokane. It is an exception to the rule.
I also know that there are reservations in Washington that sit on rivers. Good luck hunting below the high water line on those. The Colvilles , years ago, would not even let you fish on their half of the river. That has changed. But you still cant hunt up against their bank legally.
You also cant bank on what the hunting magazines around here say. There was an article years ago in the old Fishing and Hunting News. They referenced a guide. The spot he told people to hunt was on the Colville reservation on Lake Roosevelt. I called them and told them, the magazine told me the guide had a lot of experience and knew what he was talking about. They had no interest in being accurate or actually looking at a map. Hope no one got arrested following that advice.
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Re: private property lines

Postby SlayingFowlIzMyJOB » Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:02 am

I had this same question when a warden was giving me and my buddy a routine check last week. He stated that although there is plenty of grey area especially with tideflats as long as you are in the water and not on land you are ok. Meaning that if there is a blind on the bank and you hunt out of it you are trespassing BUT if you hunt out of your boat in the water right in front of the blind you are ok.
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Re: private property lines

Postby jedijon » Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:26 pm

How do you check whether the water is officially navigable? There's a lot of creeks around here but they're on parcels owned by private owners. The ones I'm interested in have public access and I'm curious to know if the rest of the creek is OK or off limits.
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Re: private property lines

Postby ScaupHunter » Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:39 pm

Creeks in general are not public waterways since they are normally not large enough to be navigable. A small river may qualify I have never heard of a creek that qualifies as navigable anywhere in the Washington State.
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Re: private property lines

Postby WYTRANSPLANT » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:40 pm

Great read on tidal ownership and navigability.

http://www.dnr.wa.gov/Publications/bc_s ... r_2012.pdf
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