Posted by: Andy Whitcomb
April 8, 2014

Andy Whitcomb

Read the Signs


Successful anglers are puzzle solvers. They take cues from nature for lure selection, such as fly fishermen “matching the hatch” during an aquatic insect emergence. For locating fish many anglers watch for bird activity, such as seagulls feeding on large baitfish schools. But anglers also have to pay attention to any actually printed, posted signs.


Stapled to every 10th roadside tree is the Pennsylvania state flower, the yellow “Posted, Private Property” sign.  Closer inspection around streams may also reveal white signs, stating something to the effect that the stream is a designated trout water and the landowner permits anglers to fish.  According to Pennsylvania trout regulations, “approved trout waters” have “significant portions open to public fishing.” However, you are not allowed to cross a through a “No Trespassing” area to gain access to it.


While I’m still getting to know the areas landowners, I prefer to know that my access is welcome.  One of my favorite signs in this region is a white sign exclaiming “Fishing Permitted! Walk in Only!” I even found a green sign reminding anglers to catch and release to increase opportunities for kids.


Here are five tips regarding access to fishing areas:

1) Areas around bridges often provide access to streams. Watch for signs in these areas to know if you need to keep driving.

2) If a landowner grants permission to fish, ask about preferred places to park. The last thing you want to do is block a driveway.

3) If you carry a digital camera, take a picture of the sign(s) that supports your permission.

4) Some signs have phone numbers on them so a quick cell phone call may clear up any confusion.

5) Have a small trash bag stuffed in your pocket and pick up any litter. Not only does this improve the stream, it contributes greatly toward goodwill with the landowner for your access and the access of others.


Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Pennsylvania. Visit him at

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