Last week, two guys (Dargan Coggeshall and Charles Crawford) who wanted to fish the cold waters of the Jackson River near Covington, Virginia way back in 2010 – decided to drop their exhaustive defense of a trespass case against them.
The charge against them? They simply waded a stretch of the Jackson River that has a ‘Kings Grant Claim.”
What is a “Kings Grant Claim”?
Essentially, this Kings Grant Claim in question refers to a land crown grant executed by the governor of Virginia on behalf of the King of England in 1743 and a 1785 grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Why do I care about this issue way up here in Michigan?
I have fished the Jackson since I was little. My family is from this area. And I can tell you first hand that this water is cold, clean and full of beautiful rainbows and browns. Just don’t fish below the WestVaco Paper Mill…unless you want 3-eyed fish.
If you are an alert reader, you will remember that I have posted about this before.
Well, the Court finally decided this case on Oct. 9th. Cutting through all the legalese and latin words from the court: These two anglers admitted to wading into the “Kings Grant” section of the Jackson. After 2 years of legal paperwork and $130,000 out-of-pocket dollars later, they both decided that their only practical option was to agree not to walk on the river bottom through the contested stretch and consent to the Court’s order of…never fishing this portion of the river again.
Many questions still remain.
1) Virginia failed to protect the public trust by not intervening. Instead, they sat this one out. The Attorney General and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries claim they don’t get involved in private civil cases. That is weak, Virginia. Weak I say;
2) Who owns this the land? The Court didn’t even address this. They were silent. Essentially, they treated this case as a simple trespass charge; and
3) What does this mean for all of us who want to hunt and fish not only on or near the Jackson…but potentially all Virginia Rivers?
This picture remains muddy and leaves in question the rights of the public to fish the Jackson and other rivers throughout the Commonwealth. You can get more detailed info here at Virginia Rivers Defense Fund.
To Coggeshell and Crawford, …former President Bill Clinton was right. “I feel your pain.”
This experience certainly must have been stressful. And as a result, I want to personally invite you up to Michigan to fish anytime you want. We welcome you to our waters.