NO TRESPASSING -- KEEP OUT!
I really hate to get a phone call from a neighbor asking for permission to fish in one of our ponds. Not because I don't like the person (usually just the opposite). Not because we want to keep all the fish to ourselves. And not because we are mean and selfish and don't want anyone else to have fun. I love to fish and I love to see others enjoy the relaxing, fun sport. But look at it from my perspective.
We are cattle ranchers. Each pasture has a purpose. Each pasture has a water source, often a farm pond. Each pasture has cattle in it at least a major portion of the year. Land prices are amazingly high these days. It takes about 7 acres of native grassland in the Flint Hills of Kansas to raise enough grass to feed a cow and her calf for a grazing season. Each acre is about the size of a football field...so 7 football fields for one cow and her baby. The price of 7 football fields alone is crazy, but multiply that by the number of cows in each pasture--from 30 to 150 cows in each of our pastures, and imagine the investment--let alone the amount of property tax paid on land around you. (Remember, property tax goes to support the local schools and other infrastructure--but that's a blog post for another day!)
It is more about the whole ecosystem! Frankly, I'm not sure many people truly understand what it means to be responsible for the health and sustainability of a piece of land. Many people have a small yard to keep up, but ranchers have thousands of acres to monitor and manage to make sure it is healthy and able to raise cattle. If I let one person fish in a pond, others may see that or hear of it (thanks a lot, Facebook) and assume that it is okay to fish there too. Eventually, a path may be worn to the pond, allowing erosion to begin. Or trash may begin to accumulate on the bank where fish or cattle may consume it. Or the fish population may decline, resulting in a dirty, weedy pond. Or...or...or...or...There are so many reasons why I can't allow people to fish or hunt, or just walk in our pastures.
I know that putting a lock on my gate merely keeps out the good people--but I don't think there are many truly "bad" people trying to hunt and fish. I believe most people just want to get out in the country and enjoy an evening with their family or friends catching a few fish. So check out the Walk-in Fishing program and find those ponds. But be respectful of the farmer and rancher who has invited you to use their land. Carry your trash back out with you, don't destroy the fishing hole for the next guy. Respect the land and the farmer or rancher who is the caretaker and owner of that land.
It is my responsibility to take care of that land, but I also want you to enjoy it as well.