Fishing Regulations in Colorado

Last Updated: 22.04.20

Colorado is an area in the USA famous for its variety of fish species and great fishing spots. If you’re planning your next fishing adventure with your retractable fishing pole in this region then you need to learn about the rules and regulations that apply to this state.

Any person between 18 and 64 years old must purchase initially a habitat stamp that allows them to apply for a fishing or hunting license. One habitat stamp costs $10.00 and is nonrefundable. There’s no need to get more than one because it is valid for one person during a period of one whole year, starting from April 1st up until March 31, the following year. Also, there’s the possibility to acquire a lifetime habitat stamp if you’re willing to pay $300.25.

Both residents and nonresidents of the state of Colorado can fish without a license or habitat stamp on June 3-4 during the Free Fishing days. Otherwise, an annual resident license can be bought at a price of $26 while a non-resident permit costs $56 or $21 for a five-day pass.

Colorado residents that have reached the age of 64 or older can obtain an annual fishing license from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife locations or licensing agencies for $1. If you need a second rod, a hand line or a tip-up you need to purchase a second-rod stamp. You just need to be aware that a second stamp can’t be transferred to another person.

In order to buy a license, you’ll need a current and valid photo ID, a proof of residency, if that’s the case and the habitat stamp. Customers aged 16 or older will need a social security number, as well.

You can get the fishing license online, from, by phone, or in person, from the CPW offices and license agents found statewide.

In order to practice fishing in safe and legal conditions, you must be aware of certain prohibited acts:


  • Vessel or any other floating device operators must clean and drain the water from all compartments and engines in between launches as well as drying them. Upon removal the vessel or boat and before leaving the parking area, it is required to remove the aquatic plants and water drain plugs. Plus, it is prohibited to transport the boat over land with aquatic plants or water drain plugs in place.
  • You should know that there is a daily bag limit that you must respect. Regardless of what you do with the fish from that day, you can only take a maximum number. Fish that you store in a container and are not returned into the water immediately are also counted in your daily bag possession. Exception makes the fish released that are not part of the limit.
  • It is prohibited to transport live fish without a proper permit.
  • It is illegal to move fish from one body of water to another. If you are caught moving fish without a permit you are eligible for a fine of up to $5,000. In addition, you can lose your fishing privileges and may be held liable for the costs of cleaning and removal of the fish.
  • If you catch a fish and you want to release it back into the water it must be alive and returned into the same body of water from which it was taken.



Some other angling laws that you should take into consideration:


  • Certain species must be returned to the water immediately after being caught. You must consult the list provided by the authorities and learn about those fish and how to recognize them.
  • It is prohibited to take mollusks for personal or commercial use.


There are penalties and fines if you don’t follow these regulations. Depending on the severity of your actions, you can receive a warning or a suspension of your fishing license.


A sought-after location

Apparently, Colorado fishing, as we said, is becoming one of the more popular fishing places in the country and even in the world these days. With a ton of rivers, lakes, and mountain streams that simply overflow with browns, rainbows, cutthroats, and others, it’s small wonder that Colorado fishing regulations have become a very hot search on the Internet. 

If, until now, we’ve shown you a detailed guide regarding said rules and regulations, we’re pretty sure that by now you’re just aching to grab your rod and your fishing license and go catch some rainbow trout - be mindful of the possession limit. If this is the case, we thought we’d go on ahead by presenting some of the very best fishing spots in the entire state.

The only thing you’ll want to remember is the advice to always watch for signs that dictate whether a certain land is private property or not, besides making sure to abide by Colorado fishing regulations. Since the entire region is teeming with lakes and rivers open for public fishing, you really have to keep your eyes open. If you do that while you and your buddies also own up-to-date fishing licenses, you’re usually good to go.

Rest assured that rules will generally be posted everywhere you go and you’ll be able to tell if they’re open to all types of fishing (live bait included) or limit anglers to things like fly fishing or fly fishing coupled with artificial lures. With that out of the way, let’s give away some Colorado fishing secrets since talking only about Colorado fishing regulations can be boring!

Rio Grande

The Rio Grande is quite famous even outside the state for its windy pathways and great catches. Beginning in the San Juan mountains that can be found in Southwest Colorado, it goes on and on all the way until the Gulf of Mexico. 

For fishing aficionados, the best section for using your artificial flies is generally considered to be in the San Juan mountains between the town of Del Norte and South Fork. Anglers who usually go there consistently claim that the section provides some of the best catches on the entire river.

If you’re worried about the best time for fishing, most people will tell you that you’re in for a summer treat as from June to July the fish catches are in full swing and your rod will be continuously used. 


Gore Creek

While this is a fairly small stream compared to the vastness of Rio Grande, it’s still one of the best places when it comes to Colorado fishing due to the multitude of browns, brooks, cutthroats, and rainbows that you can find here. 

The small creak is practically bursting with large trout all along and while a fishing license will allow you to fish at any section of the creek starting from Gore lake and ending at the confluence with the Eagle River, local anglers boast about the two main fishing spots: the Upper Gore Creek and the Lower Gore Creek.


Spinney Mountain Reservoir

Colorado fishing regulations should not be the only thing on your mind when visiting this great state. There’s plenty of other things to see as well and the Spinney Mountain Reservoir does a great job at not only providing awesome fishing opportunities but also rounding up the deal with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes and of the lake itself.

The beautiful shorelines will definitely commit themselves to your memory as will the fly-fishing, trolling, and belly boating opportunities that you’ll find here. Salmon, trophy trout, and walleyes are great year-round, but truly passionate anglers will always come here during the June season, as this is considered to be the best time. 


North Platte River

This is considered such a legendary destination that fishing licenses all-across Colorado should have the name etched on them. The North Platte River begins in the green and grassy meadows of North Park and graciously flows all the way to Wyoming. 

However, the Colorado-owned side is a much more popular fishing destination than its Wyoming counterpart so make it your first stop. However, it’s important to know beforehand that some sections are difficult and only accessible by raft or kayak, adding to the challenge and adventure offered by fishing here. 

If you’re a trout aficionado (who isn’t?), you’ll also be happy to know that the North Platte River serves up some of the best trouts on the entire West Coast.  

The Frying Pan River

Planning a trip to the Frying Pan River will make you want to ensure you have ample storage space for the multitude of catches you’re going to have here. The state of Colorado has done a great job managing the place and it has gained quite an international reputation when it comes to fly and lure fishing. 

Ten-pound rainbows are a common sight in some sections of this baby so get your best tools out of the closet. While fish-wise, the best spots are between the Ruedi Reservoir and the confluence it makes with Roaring Fork, the entire area is a trademark spot for Colorado fishing as it offers beautiful views of the mountain vistas surrounding you. 


North Delaney Lake

Storage space is also something to consider if you visit this gorgeous mountain lake found near Walden, Colorado. The healthy trout population found here makes for a great experience, especially considering the fact that the state Division of Wildlife is engaged in an activity of collecting trout eggs in an effort to boost the population even further.

With beautiful views and a great resource of big and active fish to be caught, North Delaney lake certainly cracks the list of reasons why you should get your Colorado fishing license.


Animas River

Named by the Spanish explorer Juan Rivera who, aptly translated, deemed the place to be “The river of lost souls in hell”, the Animas makes a lot of people wonder about what the Spaniard had in mind.

With great fishing opportunities surrounded by beautiful landscapes all around, it certainly seems as if the river aims more towards Heaven rather than hell. Maybe Rivera just had an unlucky angling trip here.



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I’ve done 50,000 searches on the regulations for catching salmon and without downloading a massive PDF file it’s nowhere on here it just says go catch them this is how you catch them they can be caught they don’t even tell you seasons nothing. That’s my rant for the day have a nice one. When I say on here I don’t mean this page I mean the internet