Angling access conflicts aren’t always played out on a national stage. Sometimes the issue is at the state level or even more local. Here’s what a reader told me:
“I have fished in the Patapsco (Valley) State Park in Maryland for over 20 years.
“They have signs up stating no swimming in many languages. Over the summer the signs were ignored and the fishing areas were taken over by swimmers. Instead of the park officials doing anything, they just drove by, unconcerned.
“You have to pay to enter the park. If you can't find an area to fish, you just wasted your money and time.
“When fall arrived, my son and I thought we would try to fish our favorite spot in the park. We parked and made the modest hike, only to find police tape up by the dam that said, ‘Do not cross.’
“Evidently one of the people who were in the water illegally was injured. Instead of enforcing the no swimming, they closed the area.
“This seems wrong to me. You pay for a license and you pay to enter the park and do a legal pursuit and are forbidden because the park service will not enforce the laws of the park. I would hope there are others out there who feel the same way.”
What should you do if this happens to you?
You should complain. Tell your story calmly and accurately to resource managers and to the media. And don’t give up. If you tell enough people, someone will listen. Also, remember this: when you lose access, we all do.
Strength lies in numbers. Join other anglers in a club or organization such as B.A.S.S. or Trout Unlimited. Sign up with Keep America Fishing. Then when you encounter an access issue, you will have ready-made allies and a platform to expose the problem.