Attorney General Gary King says landowners can't stop New Mexico sportsmen from fishing in a stream flowing across private property if the fisherman is wading or standing in the water rather than trespassing on adjacent land.
King reached the conclusion in a nonbinding opinion Wednesday that could spark a legal fight over fishing access.
King said fisherman can't trespass to gain access to public waters, but that "walking, wading or standing in a stream bed is not trespassing."
State Game and Fish Department rules prohibit fishing on posted private property without the landowner's written permission.
The opinion by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Farris and signed by King said fishing is a "public beneficial use" and landowners, even if they own the stream bed, can't prevent fishing in public waters.
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