Georgia Lawmakers Tackle Tricky Waters of Fishing Rights

Georgia Lawmakers Tackle Tricky Waters of Fishing Rights

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A Georgia House study committee will soon wrestle with defining state waterways open for public use, a task described as daunting by Mike Worley, president of the Georgia Wildlife Federation.

The panel, led by Rep. Lynn Smith and including Majority Whip James Burchett, aims to make recommendations by December 1.

Burchett previously proposed legislation listing 64 rivers and creeks as "presumed to be navigable," including major waterways like the Chattahoochee and Savannah rivers.

The status of lesser-known streams remains unclear, with examples like Seventeen Mile Creek and Ichawaynochaway Creek absent from Burchett's initial list.

This issue surfaced after a Flint River property owner claimed exclusive fishing rights, prompting legal action and legislative intervention.

Lawmakers passed a bill in March guaranteeing public fishing rights, but removed "public trust" language following objections from waterfront property owners.

Despite new legislation, Worley reports instances of anglers facing confrontations with property owners, hinting at potential legal challenges.

Gordon Rogers of Flint Riverkeeper remains undeterred, continuing to fish familiar spots while acknowledging the complexity facing the study committee.

The difficulty in reaching consensus on accessible waterways is evident, as Burchett's earlier bill designating specific waterways stalled in the legislature.

Stay informed about the latest developments in the world of fishing by visiting Baitium's Fishing News page.

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