Shore Fisherman vs Wading Fishermen - a battle ensues

One of the very clear "No Fishing" signs in Riverside
On one of my favorite local fishing forums, Windy City Fishing, a rant was posted about etiquette and wading. This gentleman had been fishing from the banks of one my favorite rivers. At the same time, two men were wading a bit farther downstream from him and eventually made their way to the exact place that he was casting. He considered this to be rude and arrogant. In many situations, he would be correct....

But what if he was fishing from the banks that are CLEARLY marked "No Fishing" by the Village the banks are in? Does he have any right to actually argue? He shouldn't be fishing there in the first place. Not more than 20 feet from him is at least one sign that says so. Meanwhile, these two men who chose to follow the rules and NOT fish from shore are being criticized. Why should they show etiquette to a person who was clearly choosing to not following the rules? Just because the shore fisherman doesn't agree with the no fishing rule doesn't mean that he doesn't have to follow it - Right?

Personally, I get very frustrated l when I am following the rules and can't fish in a spot because somebody who is choosing to not follow the rules is casting into the area that I want to fish. As a result, I do not really care about etiquette towards that person who chooses not to follow the rules - should I?


  1. The sign could be a bit clearer in my opinion. As I read it, both the shore fisherman and the waders are breaking the rules because it doesn't specify one can and one can't. Therefore, I say let them fight it out.

  2. The problem with that theory is what if you had entered the river from the side that allows fishing?

    Imagine that the river splits two towns in half. One town allows you to fish, the other doesn't. I give the shore fisherman their space that are fishing from the side that allows it. I may not give it to the ones who choose to fish from the side that does not allow it.

  3. Ahhh...tricky Illinois access laws. Here is my understanding, but I think it's open to interpretation:

    Is the river officially classified as public by the state?

    Public waters are defined by the state as "all lakes, rivers, streams and waterways which are or were navigable and are open or dedicated to public use including all bayous, sloughs, backwaters and submerged lands connected by water to the main channel or body of water during normal flows or stages." Here is a map of navigable waters in Illinois.

    If it's not public water, the property owner has control over whether to allow fishing or not. The property line is half way across the river and whether or not fishing is allowed depends on which half you're on regardless of where you entered.

    There are also waters identified federally as "navigable." My understanding is that you can float these rivers lawfully as long as you (and your lure and your anchor) don't touch bottom. Those waters are included with the public water on this map.

  4. Yeah, this boils down to legal access I suppose. I'm not sure how it is in your state, but here in Florida, if it's navigable water, you can fish it.

    A perfect example of this was a bayou I used to always fish. There are houses that own property right up to the water line and along the edge are rocks to prevent erosion. The owners houses also have docks that extend out into the bayou. We used to always park at a nearby public boat launch, and wade around the person's house and under his dock to access further back into the bayou. However, we arrived one day to discover he'd put up a fence underneath his dock with signs reading "No Trespassing".

    By law, he wasn't allowed to do this because he didn't own the access rights to the water underneath his dock. The fence was torn down, and we can still wade underneath it.

    Sounds to me like the sign is limiting bank fishing.

  5. In Illinois, being physically able to navigate a waterway does not make it legally navigable. It has to be on the list.

  6. I ran into a similar problem hunting last year. We put in on Loon Lake in Lake County Illinois on a public boat launch and set up. Now in the dark we did not know we had over shot the area we really wanted to hunt but no biggie, it is a public waterway with public access, right???? Wrong. As it turns out a guy comes out to our duck boat at about 9am which was cool because he could have come out right at first light during the morning flight and tells us we are on his property. I just said that does not make sense because we are on a public lake in a boat and traveled to the spot over water. The gentlemen was pleasant but stated that he owned the bottom of the lake and our duck boat was anchored as well as our deke's, so we were in fact on his land. The other guys in my hunting party got severely aggrivated with this guy and called the DNR. My uncle was just clarifying if this was right. The DNR advised us the we were in the wrong and that people can own the bottom of public waterways in Illinois. I was shocked to say the least. The moral of the story, we do not hunt there any more. There is no sign telling us not to do so, we know it is right, so we hunt elsewhere. There are many different situations but this is kindof the same.

    If you can legally wade an area and there are no fishing signs on the shore, get some waders and wade it. This person would have a leg to stand on then because if he is fishing in a no fishing spot, he should not be in the spot in the first place. Just my two cents.


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