"You can't fish around my dock!"
If you own property on the water in Alabama and you own a dock this can be a very touchy subject. Most of you probably already know this but I think it’s worth a look to determine if dock owners have a legal right to tell anglers they can’t fish around or under their dock. In the research I have a conducted and according to the official word from Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (The official enforcement for Alabama) Anglers have a legal right to fish under or around docks in public water. On Alabama Power Lakes for example, the power company actually owns the area most docks sit on, and it takes a permit from the Power Company to even put on dock on the water on these lakes. Therefore, dock owners cannot tell anglers they can’t fish under or around their dock. This information comes directly from Chris Lewis, Enforcement Officer for Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Chris states, “A privately owned dock that is on public water can be fished under or around. The water is public property, but it’s important to note the dock itself and the land around the dock may be private and therefore subject to trespassing laws.” So, anglers can legally fish under or around the docks on public water ways but must stay off the dock and/or the land around the dock unless you have permission from the owner to be there.
I know this will not sit very well with some property owners, and I have had my share of bad situations between myself and a dock owner. I was fishing a tournament on the Coosa River a few years back and had a dock owner come out into his yard and shoot a shotgun into the air and told us to get away from his dock. So this brings up another subject which I will straighten out here. Dock owners cannot intimidate or harass anglers because they are fishing around their docks. If a property owner attempts to intimidate or harass you call the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries enforcement officers. On the other side, anglers cannot damage property on the dock or on the land around the dock. Go to this website to learn what district you are in and the appropriate phone number. http://www.eregulations.com/alabama/wildlife-freshwater-fisheries-district-offices/.
With all this being said, it’s important that we as anglers are good stewards of our waterways and our sport. I think it will go a long way for everyone if we are courteous to dock owners and not damage their boats or other property trying to get a lure into a tight spot under the dock. I know a lot of you have money riding on catching that fish but let’s be smart out there and not do things that cause animosity between anglers and property owners. Don’t get on a dock or property around the dock for any reason (unless you have an emergency) without the owner’s permission. It is also important to note that some docks owned by Alabama Power may be in dangerous areas and can be off limits to everyone, including anglers, so please look for signs in these areas.
I hope this clears up the issue with fishing around docks on public waterways. Respect for each other and abiding by the regulations on our waterways will go a long way to everyone enjoying the awesome resources the state of Alabama offers.
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