One in Five Anglers Lose Access to Favorite Fishing Spots



Why We Keep Pounding Home the Angler Access Issue…

If you build it, they will come; if you build a fence around it, they will not.  Here’s a recent release from and Southwick Associates that underscores the threat to fly-fishing businesses:

The number of anglers who had to cancel a fishing trip or stop fishing a particular location last year because they lost access to a favorite fishing spot overall has not changed compared to last year.  17 percent of recreational fisherman surveyed by reported issues with access as opposed to 20 percent a year earlier. Despite this minor improvement, roughly one in five anglers is still being affected each year by not being able to use a favorite fishing location.

 Likewise, because more anglers fish freshwater than saltwater, as well as the fact that there is more private land surrounding lakes and streams, 71 percent of reported access problems involved freshwater anglers and 24 percent involved saltwater in 2012.

 Despite these challenges, 22 percent of affected anglers said they actually fished more last year than the previous year, just in a different location, and at least 32 percent reported fishing at least as much. Still, 39 percent reported fishing less frequently due to their lost access and seven percent didn’t fish at all.

 “Despite the efforts and resourcefulness of some anglers to find new fishing areas after losing access to others, it is clear that such challenges are causing us to lose anglers each year,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at, and “Whether it is due to fishery closures, closed ramps or land previously used to access a lake or stream changing hands and becoming closed to the public access remains a persistent issue. Fisheries managers, anglers and industry need to continue working together to resolve these problems.”

 To help continually improve, protect and advance angling and other outdoor recreation, all sportsmen and sportswomen are encouraged to participate in the surveys at, and/or Each month, participants who complete the survey are entered into a drawing for one of five $100 gift certificates to the sporting goods retailer of their choice.



  1. The issue of public access and use, and in essence “Who Owns the River”? is a challenging issue that is common to both anglers, and hunters. In my home state of Virginia I am doing all I can to educate the populace about this issue, and that you can follow the game laws here in Virginia, have a valid fishing license, and still be sued for trespassing on property the state of Virginia advertises as public property.

    What does the state do for anglers that follow all the laws, but go to streams that landowner’s claim they own and not the state??? Well in a word….nothing. Once you have paid the state for your license, their obligation to ensure your right to fish or hunt on public property stops. They won’t lift a finger to help you, or the landowners for that matter to keep the issue out of court.

    Until sportsman and landowners get clarity on this issue in Virginia my home state is putting out a big sign to fishing tourist that at your own legal peril. They might as well put up a sign at the border that says if you come to Virginia to fish, you might want to go to North Carolina, Maryland, or West Virginia instead.

    f you don’t believe me, read the white paper the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries put out when I wrote them a letter and asked why they didn’t assist an angler that was sued for fishing on property they advertise as publicly owned. To read about this tough issue you can go to my web-site You can also check out the stream watch section of Fly Fisherman that covers the issue as well.

    A big fat thanks to Angling Trade, and Mid-Current for covering this important issue.

    Beau Beasley

  2. One only has to look at Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreation Area for loss of access. Our oun government dosen’t know the meaning of the word “recreation.”

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