CHEYENNE - With the low snowpack and early warmer weather, fishing is now in full swing on most lakes and streams in Wyoming.
Public access to fishing Wyoming waters is generally very good, but there are some rivers that flow through private lands, leading to questions every year from anglers wanting to know Wyoming’s laws pertaining to stream access on private lands.
As with hunting, permission must be obtained from the private landowner to fish private lands or cross private lands to fish. For boaters, Wyoming law does allow floating through private lands. However, while the landowner does not own the water, the stream bank and stream bottom are considered private property. This means that when floating through private land, anglers must stay in their boat unless access permission has been obtained from the landowner. State law does allow leaving the craft for short portages around non-navigable obstacles. However, activities such as wading and anchoring on private lands without permission of the landowner constitute a trespass violation. It is the responsibility of the floater to know if lands adjoining the waterway are public or private.
Some of Wyoming’s navigable waters flow through areas where there are both public and private lands. Anglers unsure of the public land status next to waters may wish to obtain the Wyoming public land micro card for their GPS or consult public land maps published by the Bureau of Land Management. These maps are color-coded showing public and private lands. The BLM office in Cheyenne (307-775-6256) can advise which maps are needed for the different areas in the state. The micro SD card preloaded with maps for GPS units can be obtained by contacting the Game and Fish at (307) 777-4570.
Anglers with further questions on Wyoming trespass laws can contact the Game and Fish at (307) 777-4600. There is also a section on stream access and trespass on page 13 of the Wyoming Fishing Regulations.
(Contact: Al Langston (307) 777-4540)