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I know rivers get hashed out alot but what about an inland lake? If a person gets in the water at a public launch can they legally wade around the public lake fishing in waste deep water in front of people's houses? I know there is no beach walking aloud like on the great lakes, but if the feet stay wet? Are private docks on inland lakes the same as navigational obstructions in rivers? For instance if wading around a public lake and a dock is errected in a manner were it gets too deep to go around and too low to go under can I legally poratge over it like a tree or deep hole in a navicable river? I kind of have my own thoughts on this but I don't know if this issue has ever been adjuticated.
 

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On inland lakes, no you can not, at least that is what the courts have said. I know, it doesn't make much sense because you can do it from a boat but you can not, unlike "navigable" rivers, wade a lake unless you are in/on public riparian lands.
 

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boehr said:
On inland lakes, no you can not, at least that is what the courts have said. I know, it doesn't make much sense because you can do it from a boat but you can not, unlike "navigable" rivers, wade a lake unless you are in/on public riparian lands.
Wow, I wasn't expecting that answer! Just curious if you know any of the case(s) that established that. It would be interesting to see the reasoning behind it.
 

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The cases are in the site you stated above.
 

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The reason is because the lakefront owner owns all the land out to the center of the lake, even if it's submerged. This rule applies only to inland lakes, and not to the great lakes. What's public is the water - so if you are in a boat floating above the submerged bottom lands you are ok (much like it's ok to fly in the air over someone's property, but not walk on it). Great lakes rules are completely different.
 

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I don't want to seem nitpicky but we can't mis-interpet certain things here. A lake front owner does not "own" the land. They have ripairan rights to the land. You are correct that the water is public much much like hunting where you can't even from a boat over the water on anothers ripairan lands and trapping where a trap would be connected to the bottomlands of that riparian land in some fashion. It is more on the bases of courts not believing lake front owners should have to deal with the infridgement of people traveling in close proximity and likely way to much tresspassing if the wading of a lake was allowed, at least that is my take and opinion based on my experience dealing with this issue.
 

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boehr said:
The cases are in the site you stated above.
Hmm, I can't find the specific cases, but I guess it doesn't matter anyway. The document ("Public Rights on Michigan Waters") does say this (on p. 35, last paragraph):

Even though the property of a riparian owner extends only to the meander line or edge of an inland water, such owners exercise a proprietary interest in the abutting submerged soil. In other words, a riparian on an inland lake or stream, in effect, owns the submerged soil fronting his property to the center of the lake or the thread of the stream. On lakes, this ownership would be wedge or pie-shaped.
Which would do little to explain why wading is legal in navigable streams but not in navigable lakes. Riparian landowners have a "proprietary interest" or pseudo-ownership of submerged soil under both lakes and streams. I do understand the practical purposes (like trespassing) that would make lakes a different ballgame. But that would seem difficult to rationalize based solely on the law.

It's unfortunate, too, that navigability is so ambiguous and treated on a case-by-case basis. Wouldn't it be nice to just have a list of every lake and stream in Michigan that is navigable?! Unfortunately that would be virtually impossible.

You want to learn about something even more ambiguous and legally uncharted, look at air rights. Or so I have been told.
 
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