View Full Version : Clinch Access

01-15-2006, 08:55 AM
What the latest on accessing the Clinch near the Highway 61 bridge in Clinton? Where can you park and whre can you get into the river? Thanks.


appalachian angler
01-16-2006, 12:01 PM
According to the sheriffs deputies, you can park on the north end of the police station in the gravel lot closest to the barb-wire fence. You need to access the river by crossing the barbed wire fence and going upstream at least 50 yds before entering the river so as not to set off their (escape) sensors. Of course this puts you on the private propery, so be extra respecful during ingress and egress. I am not sure if the new church owns that portion of the land, or if they are leasing from he owners of the hay field. All this I'm telling you may have since changed, so don't hesitate to go to the front desk at the Sheriffs department and ask them in person. I haven't been down there in over a month, so it wouldn't hurt to check.


01-21-2006, 12:59 AM
The new owner above the jail is 2nd Baptist Church initially they where going to allow access, since they started building until a month ago there was new No Trespassing signs up. I do know at one point their insurance company was saying they could not due to liability issues. I will say with some of the drinking, dope smoking and other activities I have seen go on in the filed prior to construction continues if the church does allow access, it will quickly be rescinded.

A friend of mine is a deacon in 2nd Baptist but I have not seen him for a while and as his wife has terminal cancer I am not calling. Best to go in right behind the jail. When I find out other wise I will post.

Only one landowner on the west bank allows people on his property, the others do not. If caught you are on your own.

01-24-2006, 11:23 AM
I have been on the Clinch twice this month, I think I will start calling it the Grinch. Not much to show for some very mild weather days.

The gravel lot at the jail looks like it has a new steel "portable" building... so there is no place to park. My question... can you park on the other side of the bridge where the boat ramp is, walk up the bank under the bridge, and then enter the water? (opposite from the jail)

01-24-2006, 01:05 PM
My question... can you park on the other side of the bridge where the boat ramp is, walk up the bank under the bridge, and then enter the water? (opposite from the jail)

Burnzy, I believe that under the bridge is too deep to wade. Also I do not think that there is a trail past the bridge.

01-25-2006, 11:42 AM
Landowners on the parking lot side (east) do not allow access period. Some can get downright hostile.

The jail and ambulance service is discouraging parking. However, you can park near the soccer field and walk up. Keep in mind only one landowner on the west side allows fisherman access and you have to cross private property to get there.

Something else to keep in mind is the majority of the land owners own the land you are on to the middle of the river. That has been verified through the county, TVA, TWRA as well as other sources. Most do not mind people in the river unless you complain about their bait fishing and keeping fish. Respect them show tolerance and you might make a friend who lets you have access thought their property. Let them offer donít ask or hint.

02-15-2006, 05:08 PM
Can you walk up along the tracks and access Dandridge Bend withiut PO'ing the locals?

03-05-2006, 12:23 AM
The last I heard it is owned by an expensive fishing club.

03-05-2006, 09:41 PM
So let me see if I have this right.

If you can find a place to park, you can walk into the river near the jail. But if you go any significant distance upstream, you'll be on private property even if you're in the river because TN riparian law says landowners on one side actualy own out to midstream. So, the only river not actually in contention, unless you want to play the "gee-can-I-fish-here-buddy-how-bout-them-Vols" game is the 100 yards or so by the Jail?

03-13-2006, 01:08 AM
Most deeds on the Clinch go to the middle of the river. This was verified a few years ago with TVA and the Court House as well as legal counsel.

It is considered a non-navigable river above the 61 bridge, TVA wants it declared navigable for water quality issues..

Similar laws apply to smaller streams.

Most landowners doe not mind people wading in the river unless they are jerks. Then you are on your own.

03-14-2006, 08:41 PM
Look, let's stop beating around the bush. At what points can you walk up and enter the River on the left side as you as facing upstream, from the Jail up to Dandridge Bend, without getting in trouble with the landowners?

03-15-2006, 08:29 AM
Parking on the left side of the jail (as your facing it) near the dumpster is still not a crime, while the errected a structure where the impound lot was and there are some other cars along that grass strip there, I've parked there still with no incident. They are cops - they let you know if they don't want you there, but I've not had any issues 'cept the incarcerated tapping on thier little glass windows as I was getting suited up. If it is too crowded or you rather walk farther - park in the lot or soccer area.
Tucked back there past the dumpster to you left (do not go right or behind the actual jail - then they'll get ya) follow the tree line and find the magic door that leads to the water (you do hafta kinda beat around the bush ;D)....you could walk upstream from there and find some great water that will keep you busy all day with out having to move up stream a whole lot.
People used to walk around that fence where you enter the tree line and walk further on the church land - last time I was there I talked to some church members who had no quams with me being there and knew of no reason they would ban access...if you stay tight to the right side treeline/streamside...
Personally, on land, that is as far as I walk - from there I'm in the water and fishing - there is enough water before that bend to keep one busy...
I'm not advocating tresspassing by any means - I've been fishing that spot for many years and have yet to have a conflict...I think that Running Wolf has it right when he stated "Respect them..."
As far as the boat ramp area - you can walk up stream, but it'll take a nice hike...I used to do it before I found about the jail access - you have to walk on the shore under the bridge then cross to mid stream and follow the wadable water up. Takes some time, but there are some nice holes along the way that hold fish.


03-15-2006, 01:08 PM
In the early 1990's I fished in Wisconsin. *Wisconsin owns easements for fishing access along the banks of the spring creeks in the Dodgeville area. *It would take a major legislative effort to do something similar in Tennessee, but perhaps some of the people on this board would be willing to do it. *

03-15-2006, 07:56 PM
In addition to a legislative change, such a program would take some serious money to buy the easements from the landowners, and that ain't happening any time soon in a tax-poor state like Tennessee, though it might be a better use of the trout license money than stocking streams with little restrictions on harvest.

New York State has a long history of buying easements ("public fishing rights"), dating back to the 40s, I think. As a result of their foresight, streams like the entire the entire lower Beaverkill are open to public fishing.

03-16-2006, 12:11 PM
It might not be as expensive as one might think. We are talking about just a few rivers, and they don't contain trout for their entire length. The ones of which I am aware are:

South Holston
Fort Patrick Henry

Are there any other tailraces which are stocked with trout?

03-17-2006, 01:09 AM

03-17-2006, 10:02 AM
I did a bit of legal research yesterday. *Tennessee has a statute called the "Conservation Easement Act of 1981." *If you want to read it, it's Tenn. Code Ann. 66-9-301 - 309. *I'll call it "the Act" in this post.

Section 66-9-305 of the Act forbids the acquisition of conservation easements by eminent domain. *That means that our only options are: (1) purchasing conservation easements for access to the Clinch (and other rivers) from landowners who are willing to grant them, and (2) finding landowners who are willing to donate easements.

I looked at a large-scale topo map of the Clinch between Norris Dam and Clinton. *One of the problems with access is that there are relatively few points where a road is near the river.

Does anyone know if anyone or an organization has identified desirable access points on the Clinch? *If we could identify points to provide adequate access to the river, we could then approach landowners about selling easements. *From there it's a matter of price and raising funds. *Once the easements are purchased, they could be donated to TWRA.

I define "a desirable access point" as being relatively close to the river and a public road, and which does not require a physically-demanding passage over land. *For example, it's no good having a parking spot which is more than one mile from the river, and most of that mile is near-vertical.

Grants may be available to purchase easements. Does anyone on this board have knowledge of potential sources of grants, and/or expertise in grant-writing? Of course, we can always have fund-raising events.

03-17-2006, 10:39 AM
More access on the CLinch would be nice, but I really don't see landowners selling off easments to allow additional access.

A lot of the landowners are very nice about access and will grant access if approached in a polite way. However, over the years, many of the landowners have been burned.

It doesn't take long for a nice piece of land to get ruined when people who access it do not treat it like a privledge. Littering is a big problem and some folks do not understand the pack it out philosphy. Why should a landowner open up there land to people if it means their land or property is going to get trashed. Now I'm not saying everybody does this but the old addage of "One Bad Apple" does have a lot of meaning.

Another thing that will get under their skin is the elitist attitude some people seem to have while fishing. Under current TWRA regulations, the Clinch is open to general trout regulations with the standard statewide creel limit of 7 fish. Imagine how infuriating it would be to be enjoying a day fishing from the bank with kids or grandkids....keeping a fish or two...and then having someone verbally attack you for what your doing.

Now like I said, by no means does this apply to the majority of the folks who fish or fly fish on the Clinch....or many other rivers for that matter....but it doesn't take too many jerks to ruin it for everybody.

Proper fishing manners and some of that good ol southern hospitality goes a long way in building partnerships and friendships. Good things will come when we start viewing all people as fishermen instead of "spin fishermenn" "Bait chunker" or "Fly Fishermen".

In the end, if people will repsect the landowners and their property, the landowners will respect the visitors much more, and everyone can enjoy our great rivers.

03-17-2006, 11:02 AM
We'll never know unless we try. We might not get every landowner to sell an easement, but even one or two more access points would be welcome, don't you think?

Some of the problems you mentioned could be abated. For instance, the easement, which would be a path to the river, could be fenced. Trash cans could be placed at several points. Fences could also be built along the bank to keep people, except determined ones, confined close to the river.

I have seen this work in Wisconsin. I don't see why it wouldn't work here.

03-19-2006, 11:13 PM
You arenít from around here are you?

Most people donít want strangers on or around them. The ones who grant access for the most part do so by at least knowing who you are.

Some recent incidents of people leaving human waste on private property owners picnic tables at the river, pushing port a johns they have installed for guest into the river and other actions have not added to any good will gained. Not to mention the destruction of cattle fencing that has occurred on at least two landowners properties. Neighbor A allows access to neighbor B and B does not like it you have potential for new problems.

Add into the fact meth is now being manufactured in hunting woods and along stream banks with the portable labs along with the high dollar cleanup of its waste and it throws more into the negative reaction mode.

Property values a few years ago at Hwy 61 was around 35-40k, what will they go to in the near future?

Another factor you do not know about is the land owners and users group that was *formed several years ago called something like LUCRO and they have a private act in their pocket which the consequences of you would not like if they gave it to the state legislature as they would essentially have no choice but to make it law.That is a sleeping dog best left lying.

The last I knew a few years ago the Clinch River Chapter of Trout Unlimited had a working relationship with the Land Owners association and had talked of access issues that may be a good place to start, I think their web address is www.crctu.com there should be some links there to get in contact with them.

03-19-2006, 11:27 PM
Per their deacons their insurance company said no to allowing access, they where looking at changing insurances companies. The last I talked to them the insurance companies they talked to where saying no and as was their current company where wanting a fence built to cut off access to the river for liability issues. I have not seen the two I know as ones wife has cancer and the other has not been around the past year. The deacons of the church did hope that something could be worked out, as they have no problems with fishing and most fishermen. *When I find out more I will post it. There is a path to the river directly behind the jail (slightly upstream), up river is private property and most do not allow access and none allow it without permission. I hope this is plain enough.

The church at one time had wanted to build a fishermanís parking lot at the upper end of their property. The last I talked to if they found an insurance company that allows access that provision is up in the air. It seems some drinking and pot parties have occurred on their property and the people where very loud while they where having some church related outdoor activities there. Peoples attitudes and lack of respect is going to hurt the chances as well.

The former landowner Mr. Underwood ignored tresspassing when you went by the OLD No Trespassing sign as long as you staid on the fishermanís path next to the river

Talked to a former deputy who is running for sheriff the other day and I asked about the jail access, he told me current policy when he left to run 8 months ago was to publicly say they allow access, but to fill the parking with cars to limit as they really do not like it. Liquor, beer and other banned substances has been left in the dumpster for inmates who are allowed out for some exercise, as well as trustees who take the trash out. *

03-20-2006, 01:35 PM
I fished the clinch on Friday and spoke tow Two GENTLEMAN who were cleaning up their church property. They engaged me in pleasent conversation and invited me to their services. THANKS. As a gesture of my gratitude I offered to put down my rod and help them cut brush, they decliened, but the gesture on both parts was real and meaningful. Legalities being what they are, let's put those away and be the gentlemen that fly fishers can be.
Thanks Clinch River Church for your kindness and invitation!

Best Regards and God Bless your building efforts,

03-20-2006, 07:35 PM
The bottom line on the Clinch as well as most East Tennessee tailwaters is below the high water mark you are fine. Some deeds do go to the middle of the river, some do not. If you think you may be trespassing you probably are. Stay in the river and you will be OK. If high water pushes you out and you are forced to walk out do so with respect. Most landowners will understand if you are polite and don't make a habit of it. Or on the Clinch you can walk the railroad tracks which is how we all accessed the river before the jail. The fishing club in the bend no longer exists but to get there by water you will have to cross the river just before the bend. As was stated before if you are polite you will probably have no problems.

03-20-2006, 11:37 PM
There is no high-water mark on the Clinch. This was confirmed with TVA's river mangement and legal staff. The high water marks begin below the Highway 61 Bridge.

Polite is a key. The people across the river on the right side below the old fishing club do not like people on them period. They target practice very loosely a lot on their property. People who use the old fishing club tore their fence down many times they are not happy with most fishermen. They do allow some individuals access.

Be polite to all you meet in the river whether or not you agree with their fishing methods, them keeping fish or not and no one will say a word to you. I have seen someone complain to a bait fisherman there get kicked out of that part of the river.

There a few deeds that do not say middle of the river but no many and most are in the mid river area where you have to float through to fish it anyway.

Good to see someone be polite to some church folks that is getting very rare. One place I have private access to allows his church to conduct baptism there. There was some people floated through and made fun of them once when I was there. Uncalled for and when something was said to them they cursed and carried on even louder.

To the person asking about easement. TWRA was looking for additional access a few years ago as well. I do not know what the current status of that is either.

03-21-2006, 10:09 AM
You arenít from around here are you?

Well, Running Wolf, actually I am. I've lived in either the Tri-Cities or Knoxville areas all of my life, and I've been flyfishing for about 27 years now.

I know that obtaining access easements may not be easy or cheap, but it's worth at least a little bit of effort, isn't it? If we don't make any effort at all, we'll never know. To borrow from Donald Sutherland's character in "Kelly's Heroes," "How about some positive waves here?"

03-22-2006, 10:27 PM
ďHow about some positive waves hereĒ

Gave you some realistic ones from what I know.

The number of years you have fly fished mean nothing to me or the land owners. In fact if you tell them that you have lost your battle before you have begun. They associate fly fisherman for the most part with elitist snobs. However let me add they do understand science and backed the scientific studies on the river to determine how to manage it, several even put in volunteer hours.

Sorry if it don't float your boat, but I was raised with most of the landowners children and know most of them (landowners) and how they think and feel. Most of the people do not appreciate strangers on or near their land especially with all that has gone on recently, which I have already addressed.

I gave you two groups to contact. As a note do not try and use the GSM chapter of TU it will get essentially every door in the river slammed in your face.

03-23-2006, 10:37 AM
I'm sure when eastprong asked about river access he was not asking about local politics ;D. However any access question on the Clinch seems to be somewhat of a loaded question. I live near the Clinch and know many of the landowners both old and new and have found the vast majority to be polite, engaging people. It really bothers me to hear of instances of floaters being rude to land owners or other anglers regardless of the method of fishing they enjoy. There has been a lot of ill will on the river over the years and I always like to think it is getting better. Use some common sense, be polite, and build some good will for all of us. That's the best way to get new access.

03-23-2006, 08:22 PM
No he was not asking, but if someone else was talking about more access *::) if he wants success he needs to be aware of what he is facing. Better to be forewarned. Two groups may be helpful to engage a partnership with if he wants to succeed, one not to engage for help, as there are still very bitter feelings towards them along the river and its users. (Along with a deep resentment by several of fly fisherman in general.) I am not going to waste the board space to explain it, if you are local you know there is a lot of truth to that and why. That was just advice, I would like to see some access in spots and if I was still active in the organization I was I would help.

Most of the landowners are nice if approached properly.

Unfortunately there are several jerks on the river both on foot and floating it (both types of fisherman-but most locals only see it from the fly fisherman), one instance from them ruins 100 positive impressions.

I understand about wishing it getting better, I have not seen it but stay the same of get slightly worse.

03-23-2006, 10:42 PM
When I originally asked the question, I was only hoping to get some definitive answers about what restrictions there might be on access on the lower River. I started fishing that stretch in the late 80s when it was so "unknown" that I could take my golden retriever with me without fear of bothering other fishers, because there weren't any! As the sulphurs took hold and the word got out, that changed but I fished it heavily the 90s, and there was plenty to go around. With the demise of the sulphurs my interest has waned, to the extent that I never made it to the lower section last year. I had been hearing of access problems recently and I thought I would ask because even without the sulphurs there's a lot of fertility in the River.

Well, a definitive answer on access is apparently not forthcoming. What I take away from this is that in the short run, access will be governed by whether a particular landowner likes your looks or not (OK -- that's their right, but it does suck, because in the end, that's essentially elitism of an inverse variety -- you donít have to be a rich liberal lawyer in full Orvis regalia to practice elitism, you know). In the long run there really isn't any hope because the landowners will eventually sell to developers, because they don't like the looks of us flyfishers and there's more money to be made in selling the whole enchilada rather than just access rights. Believe me, it's coming, especially with the lure of "riverfront property" for the retiring boomers from up North at prices they would deem to be a bargain.

So the Clinch access situation can be summed up as: "get it while you can." I'm gonna try.

03-24-2006, 12:31 AM
Sorry you have problems understanding.

Behind the jail. Period.

If the Church gets insurance that allows it then you will there. If it donít you will not. The right side nobody allows access period.

One person on the left side lets people with permission, his wife is for shutting that off, and as a result he has given no one else permission in three years.

Is that plain enough?

I have fished that part of the river since 1965 when Mr. Underwood owned the land and road my bike up to fish. Things change.

It has nothing to do with elitism, but snobs and slobs of all varieties of life ruin things for you. *Your attitude will open or close doors for you over your looks. These people judge you for primarily on how you act, nothing more nothing less.

There has been no sulphur hatch to speak of (the fish barely pay attention it is so sporadic and limited) the past 4-5 years on the lower river. The river got silted up and killed most of the bugs ~ 5 years ago on the lower end so bad it was like wading in mud. I was there last year when TVAís biologist came out from doing their invertebrate survey, their conclusions they do not know if it will recover as there was that few of them.

I still hear of a decent sulphur hatch on the upper river, but it is not worth the crowds to me. I know how to midge fish.

The bigger problem is the town of Clinton condemning property they done have a piece 4 miles up river on the right side mapped out as a golf coarse.

Yankees buying up the property? Maybe with the next generation but I do not see many of this generation selling to those from the North.

Be glad it is not like Penn. where someone who owns both sides of the river does not even let you float it little alone wade it.

Team up with the person suggesting buying access and contact the two groups I suggested to him, that is your best bet.

03-24-2006, 06:56 AM
Your last post is pretty clear. But if no landowners are allowing access, then what's all this about being courteous to them -- how would you even get the chance? Your earlier posts indicated that "polite is key", insinuating that access is done on a case by case basis. I hoped this was the case, because at least one would have a fighting chance. That's where I got sidetracked. At least it's settled now.

BTW, telling most of us to be courteous is like reminding us to breathe.

The development scenario is not one where landowners sell directly to the resident-buyers but to local developers who then sell to residents. A large part of the demand would be driven by out-of-state retirees. Hope I'm wrong. But if there's no access now, the point is moot.

If we ever find out that someone's sold out to Yankees, me and the boys will take care of it.

03-24-2006, 02:59 PM
"But if no landowners are allowing access, then what's all this about being courteous to them -- how would you even get the chance? Your earlier posts indicated that "polite is key", insinuating that access is done on a case by case basis"

I have seen a few grant access to those after they have fished around them several times determine that they where ok, the fisherman did not asked, the landowner asked them if they would like to have access on them, I have seen this both on the lower end and in the middle section.

"most of us to be courteous is like reminding us to breathe"

I understand that is true for most who come here, but I also know it is not true for a few who come to this board as well.

As I have said TWRA was looking at some places and looking for outside help a couple years ago, the CRCTU chapter did some help in the process of actually putting Millers Island in the Public Domain, but I understand that may have fell through. I do not know the story. They where also looking at working with TWRA and 2nd Baptist about acquiring some access at the Church when construction was completed on the church and trying to work around the insurance problems, I think that fell through but I do not know.

If you park at the jail and go in do not park on the ambulance service property, if all slots are full on the up river side of the jail park down in front of the soccer filed.
I hope to see someone with the church in the next few weeks and I will ask them about what is going on and then I will post it.