Pond Law Question [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Pond Law Question

11-15-2000, 12:11 PM
I heard one time that if a pond is over "X" acres big that it can not be posted as Private Property. The land around it can but not the actual body of water. Anybody know if this is true and if so how many acres X means?


11-15-2000, 01:17 PM
Good question, Terry. I'm not sure of the answer, but if the law actually exists, it opens up a whole new market:

<font size="4">helicopter fishing!!</font><!--4-->

We could get Bill D. to drop us and our float tubes into some rich guy's private trout pond.

Eggs-sellent, Smithers!

11-15-2000, 01:30 PM
Here's the poop. Any lawyers on board care to clarify it for us?


<b>Chapter 131: Section 1. Definitions; rules of construction.</b>

"Great pond", a natural pond the area of which is <b>twenty acres or more</b>.

<b>Chapter 131: Section 45. Great ponds; public use; rules and regulations.</b>

Section 45. Except as otherwise provided in this section and elsewhere in this chapter, every great pond not actively being used as a source of water supply of any town, water supply or fire district or public institution, and not subject to the provisions of section one hundred and sixty of chapter one hundred and eleven, shall be public for the purpose of hunting or boating thereon and shall,
notwithstanding the provisions of any special law relating to fisheries in any particular place, <b>be open to all inhabitants of the commonwealth for fishing purposes;</b> provided that any city or town in which the whole or any portion of any great pond not exceeding five hundred acres in extent is situated may, as to so much thereof, as is located within its boundaries, make and enforce rules and regulations relative to hunting, fishing and boating thereon. Any such rule and regulation relative to boating may include, on all or any portion of said pond, for all or any portion of the year, any of the following: a speed limit, a limit on engine horsepower, a prohibition of
the use of internal combustion engines, a ban on water skiing and other high speed uses and a limitation of such uses to certain areas and certain times. Any such rules or regulations shall, to the extent that they authorize hunting or fishing or, both, be subject to the approval of the director, and to the extent that they authorize any other use thereof, be subject to the approval of the commissioner of environmental protection or to the extent that they impose restrictions upon the speed limit, a limitation on engine horsepower, a prohibition of the use of internal combustion engines, a ban on water skiing and other high speed uses, and a limitation of such uses to certain areas and certain times, be subject to the approval of the director of law enforcement. All persons shall be allowed reasonable means of access to such ponds for the purposes aforesaid.

Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section and section thirty-nine B of chapter ninety, any city or town in which is situated the whole or any portion of any great pond, as defined by section one, may, as to so much thereof which is located within its boundaries, make and enforce rules and regulations relative to the use and operation of aircraft equipped with floats or other means of transportation on water; provided, however, that such regulations, ordinances, or by-laws providing for such use and operation shall first be approved by the Massachusetts aeronautics commission.

11-15-2000, 01:52 PM
What I'm getting at is that one of my favorite bass ponds has been posted now and it sucks. So how nuch is an acre again? 40'000 sq.ft? That's roughly 200' x 200'. So 20 acres would be 4.47 acres x 4.47 acres which would be 4.47 x 200'on a side=894'. Just over a 1/5 mile box. I think I might have a case. Maybe that's why the signs say "This pond is Private Property- <b>please</b> DO NOT FISH or Boat etc."

I whipped through the above calculation so please make corrections if needed.


11-15-2000, 02:49 PM
Good cause Terry - could you also check with the state offices to determine the acreage on file for the lake? Lazy man's math

If you have a case, I say we all get behind this and see what happens! Even if not 20 acres, how can they say the lake is private? Sounds fishy.

11-15-2000, 03:22 PM
The pond is 1 mile by 1/8 mile on average-easily over 20 acres at first glance. I've contacted the local police to ask about the validity of the postings. They reffered me to a manager of a condo complex nearby that is in charge of the postings. I've left voice mail with him AND email with the Mass DFW Land Access Board. We'll see what happens.
I witnessed an ~ 8lb Largemouth caught and released in a canoe I was in by a friend of mine in this pond. I've also caught all the other typical warmwater species here in good sizes. It would be a shame to loose it to the wealthy folks in possesion of it.


11-15-2000, 06:27 PM
Terry - sorry for the wise crack. It's sometimes hard to tell when you're serious about something..... Walden is 58 acres, if that gives you any sort of a yard stick. Based on your dimensions and square footage for an acre, your pond is approximately 92.5 acres.

Might also check out: <!--http--><a href="http://www.state.ma.us/dfwele/dfw/dfw_pond.htm" target="_blank">pond maps</a><!--url-->

Just to be fair, I personally wouldn't want every Tom, Dick, and Harry leaving worm cups and hook packages all over my property. There's another section of the bylaws that deals with compensation to property owners for easements to fufill what you have quoted above. If the town has not settled this with the owner, he may have every right to post signs and make a big stink with local fishermen.

However, instead of trying to plow through that wall, why not go around it? You might seek to let the owner know that you have a conservation ethic and you're not a slob. He may just grant permission for you to fish it and save you the hassle of cleaning up after those with less scruples.


11-15-2000, 08:09 PM
Now that's a way F'in cool web-site! Just bookmarked it!

11-15-2000, 09:39 PM
You've heard the adage "better to ask forgiveness later than to ask permission now"?

Far be it from me to advocate civil disobediance (I only practice it), but if I had my eye on that pond and had done the research that you've done I'd just go ahead and fish it. You're already prepared to cite chapter and verse if anyone gives you grief over it and the likelihood is that noone will.

11-15-2000, 11:04 PM

Bow-hunting camo works very well if you can find a place to park and walk in.


I've heard of great parking spots around a certain driveway by a cliff of an unnamed river that's great for striper fishing... Oh! never mind.

11-16-2000, 07:24 AM
Thankfully, we don't live in a state where it's legal and/or common practice to shoot at trespassers. Try applying Mike's addage out west and you might end up with some bird shot in the arse as response to your pleas for forgiveness. Have I ever told you guys my Canyon City brookie stream story?

But this ain't the west, so I'm with Sir Powers. Fish it like you own it, and if anyone gives you a hassle, just tell them the helicopter is coming back for you in a few minutes. ;)

11-16-2000, 07:53 AM
Thanks everyone. I really got wound up on this yesterday and I'm relaxing now. I like the idea of just continuing to fish it. Maybe I will bring a print out of the above laws for good measure.

Al: no offense taken. I thought your comment was funny. As a resident flipant wiseguy, I have a high tolerance for it from others. But if, as you say, it's hard to tell when I'm joking or not, that is a problem. Afterall this is a public forum and we can easily get misunderstood without body language. I'll try to be a bit straighter, to much sarcasm get's old. I'll save it for the campsites.


11-16-2000, 07:53 AM
double posted, ignore

John Desjardins
11-16-2000, 07:57 AM
Please forgive me for being a devils advocate here but what is the definition of a natural pond? Is it created by retreating glaciers or can it be a beaver pond? I've always wondered if this is how man made reservoirs can restrict access.

11-16-2000, 08:24 AM
Bad News- Just got a call back from a good man at DFW Access Board. He told me they get a dozen calls a year on the posting at my pond. IT turns out that this pond in <b>man-made</b> thus excempt from great pond rules. Nobody knows how far back this was done but we gotta follow the law. Oh well, Jack was a good man and suggested I try Dudely pond in Wayland instead for some good largemouth.


11-16-2000, 08:37 AM
well it was a good effort at least!!


11-16-2000, 09:47 AM
Good question John - I guess Terry's findings indirectly answer your question! Unfortunate though...