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Be Aware of Wyoming's Stream Floating Laws





CASPER -- A carefree float on a Wyoming river requires some careful research.

Anglers planning a drift trip this spring need to be familiar with Wyoming law pertaining to floating through private lands before pushing off from shore. Water is the property of the state, and you can enjoy it and any bordering public lands.

However, if your float trip goes through private lands, you must stay in your boat at all times unless permission has been obtained from the landowner. State law only allows you to leave your craft for short portages around non-navigable obstacles. The streambed may also be the property of the landowner. So wading or anchoring without permission is also prohibited. Indeed, it is trespassing, and ignorance is no defense.

“Anchoring or beaching a boat on private property is by far the number one complaint about float fisherman,” said Mike Choma, Casper-East Game Warden. “It is the fisherman’s responsibility to know where they are.”

Knowing what is, and is not, public can be difficult, but not on most of Wyoming’s major rivers, like the North Platte, where a red and blue marker system alerts floaters to land status. Red markers designate private land. Blue markers indicate public and private land open for access downstream from the side of the river the sign is posted on. If one side of the river is public and the other is private, please stick close to the public side if you want to anchor or wade.

Public land maps, available from the Bureau of Land Management, are also excellent guides for avoiding a $210 trespassing ticket.

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