February 19, 2004

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

If you leave the door of your home unlocked, does that mean any stranger off the street can barge right in and make themselves at home? How would you feel if you came home and found an uninvited guest sitting in your chair, watching a pay-per-view movie while emptying your refrigerator? Apparently thatís how many people feel about farm ponds. If the gate isnít locked and theyíre far enough from the house that no one will see you sneaking in, apparently the fishing is fair game.

This weekend I went to do a little ice fishing. The first pond I arrived at looked like a slice of Swiss cheese, there were so many holes drilled in it. It was sort of like the three little bears, as at my next stop the holes were still open and finally at pond number three there sat the culprit still in my bed. No, they hadnít thought to ask permission Ė so and so had told them this was a good pond to fish in. Apparently their source was correct as they had a five-gallon bucket nearly full of fish.

Evidently these fellows werenít the only ones taking liberties in my fishing holes. I canít believe all the stories I heard about people fishing where they arenít supposed to be. You donít own the pond or the fish. You donít pay taxes on the ground, you didnít do any of the work stocking the pond, nor did you marry the farmerís daughter (the most difficult and expensive of the options I might add). So basically unless you have asked and received specific permission from the landowner to fish in the pond, you have no right to be there.

I guess what is so aggravating is the damage this does to the ponds. It took a lot of work to fix these fisheries. When I first started fishing these waterways they were all overpopulated with little fish Ė probably a product of all these trespassers fishing them and taking out all of the big fish. I spent a lot of hours getting the fish under control, restocking the proper numbers and types of fish, and getting the ponds to become productive fisheries once again. These are delicate systems. If everybody and their dog is now fishing them again and taking out as many fish as they are bragging around town about, it will quickly be ruined once again. I wondered why I was struggling to catch fish at a number of the waterways at the other end of the farm. Now I know why. Sorry folks but when you hear that vehicle pulling up behind you while youíre trespassing, you better be ready for the flashing red lights. I donít want to take the kids fishing this spring and learn our secret pond isnít so secret after all.

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