Sure, you can land a cast on a dime, but can you tell whether that inviting access point is legal to use? Jeff Little and Chad Hoover recently found out the hard way that a familiar roadside pull-off was off-limits due to landowner complaints. Despite their best efforts, the expert anglers went home with matching tickets for trespassing. What should they have done differently?
Jeff Little and Chad Hoover Ticketed for “Trespassing”
Fishing buddies Hoover and Little look forward to hitting a smaller river after spending the previous day on the “cold, freezing, muddy, nasty Rappahannock.” Not long into their day, however, Hoover receives a call from the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. The conservation officer accuses the anglers of “criminal trespassing” for their choice of parking spots.
Back at the vehicles, there is some confusion over which set of rules applies. The pair are parked at a right-of-way, but the conservation officer says they need permission from an adjoining landowner to use it. Having parked at other right-of-ways all over the state, Hoover calls it “selective enforcement.” The anglers agree to move, but still receive tickets for their troubles.
As Little later explains, “that particular landowner…had been angered by people leaving trash.” He recalls having personally cleaned up litter at that location in the past—beer bottles, fast food wrappers and even discarded tires. “If you don’t pick up trash at your access points,” Little warns, “you’re gonna have pissed off landowners and you need to to preserve that goodwill” to maintain access for everyone.
Show Goes On After Trespassing Tickets
Little and Hoover find a legitimate launch further downstream and soon get back on the water. Thanks to their Torqeedo-equipped kayaks, both men are able to motor right back upstream to where they started. “They can question the legality of how we parked,” Little says, “but you can’t say that we can’t be in the river.”
A fruitful day of fishing follows the early drama, as the pair pass through cypress forest, culverts and extremely shallow water to land some impressively chunky bass. By the end of they day their batteries are nearly drained, a sign of a productive trip.