On Monday June 5th, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled on a lengthy debate on whether a angler has the right to wade in Colorado’s rivers and streams. The Colorado Supreme Court rules against expanding stream access. The ruling came as a disappointment to many local anglers and outdoor recreation organizations.

In the ruling the state’s highest court ruled that Roger Hill–the octogenarian angler who brought the suit--had no legal basis to claim the state owned the rivers. He based his argument on the fact that shortly after Colorado became a state in 1876 the rivers were used for commerce.

In the ruling that the Colorado Supreme Court rules against expanding stream access, they wrote the following:

“This case requires us to answer just one question: whether Roger Hill has a legally protected interest that affords him standing to pursue his claim for a declaratory judgment ‘that a river segment was navigable for title at statehood and belongs to the state,” wrote Colorado Supreme Court Justice Melissa Hart. “He does not.”

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled against expanding stream access in their ruling:

“To conclude that Hill has a legally protected interest, we would need to assume that he will win on the merits of his underlying assertion that the state owns the disputed property. Hill’s trespass claim only exists contingent on an antecedent claim that is not his to pursue — that the state owns the riverbed. Proof that the state’s ownership of the riverbed is a necessary prerequisite to his claimed right to fish in that portion of the Arkansas River.”

Read more about the ruling at these links.

Outdoor Life Magazine.

The Colorado Sun.

The Center Square.

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. 



About onWater

We understand the reasons people fish and we share your passion. As anglers we must also focus on the future of fishing as much as we focus on our next good drift. The future of fishing does not exist without a commitment to resource protection.

The onWater team is dedicated to maintaining a deep connection to the rivers, communities, and landscapes that we use, visit, and inspire us. We know we must act to preserve and to enhance the resources that give us opportunity to fish, explore, and make a living. From donating a portion of revenue to participating in grass roots events, giving back is a core belief.