Colorado Fishing Licenses and Resources

How Much Is a Fishing License in Colorado? (Regulation and More)

The fun part of fly fishing is visiting some of the best fishing spots all over the continent. And Colorado is home to some of my favorite fly fishing destinations in the United States, including the Cache La Poudre River. The Cache La Poudre River was my granddad’s favorite fishing spot, and I did fish there several times, but the best times were at the beginning of summer and the end of Spring.

Therefore, Colorado is one of my dream destinations; unfortunately, there are several regulations that you have to follow to fish in this state. And one of them is knowing the right time to fish in Colorado, but do you know how much is a fishing license in Colorado? Well, you’re not alone; after all, the cost of these licenses varies with the state. So if you want to know more about the price of licenses in Colorado, please read on.

  • Annual Colorado resident: $36.71
  • Annual senior resident: $ $10.23
  • Annual non-resident: $102.40
  • 5 days senior Non-resident: $33.53

To learn more, here’s a link to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s website.

Brown Trout with a small midge from the Colorado River
Brown Trout with a small midge from the 👉 Colorado River

Does Colorado Have Free Fishing?

Generally, most states, including Colorado, do have free fishing days. During these specific days, anglers can fish for several days without a permit. And in Colorado, the free fishing days are usually during the first weekend of June. (source)

In 2022, the free fishing days were on the weekend of the 4th and 5th of June; therefore, if you want to try fishing in Colorado for free in 2023, then you should visit the state around June 3 and 4 next year. The Free Fishing weekend can be an excellent opportunity for first-timers to try fly fishing and learn more about the sport. Plus, in some places, you can find loaner gear for beginners.

Can Non-residents Fish for Free on Free Fishing Days?

The free fishing weekend provides families, both residents, and non-residents, an excellent opportunity to enjoy a wide range of fishing opportunities Colorado offers. (source) But you must still follow all the state’s fishing rules and regulations.

Table of Fishing License Costs in Colorado

Annual fishing license$36.71$102.40
Annual habitat stamp$10.59$10.59
Annual Youth fishing license (16-17 years)$10.23N/A
Senior Annual fishing license (over 65 years)$10.23N/A
5-day Fishing LicenseN/A$33.53
1-day fishing license (additional days, you pay $7.05 per day)$14.46$17.64
Second-rod stamp$11.28$11.28
Youth second rod$10.23N/A
Senior lifetime fishing upgrade (over 65 years)
If you possess a senior disability lifetime license or
a lifetime low-income fishing license for seniors,
you can get a small game license to enjoy both benefits.

Where Can I Buy a Fishing License in Colorado?

A little brown trout from the Fryingpan River
A little brown trout from the 👉 Fryingpan River

Colorado has provided several options for anglers to get their fishing license before the fishing seasons finally begin. You can purchase your fishing license from several Colorado Park and Wildlife offices or their authorized dealers. You can use the following portal to find a local retailer near you and get your license. (source)

Fortunately, there are several local retailers all over the state; therefore, anglers have some options. You can even find the exact location of the local retailer online, but if that’s not an option, then you can use their online portal to purchase the license directly from them and then print it.

Another reliable method of purchasing a fishing license is by phone. You must call the toll-free line (1-800-244-5613), but you will have to pay the processing fee. Therefore, you have no reason to be caught fishing with no permit, especially since there are several ways to get a license.

How Much Is a Colorado Fishing License at Walmart?

If you can’t access the state’s portal or are not in a position to purchase them in person from the local retailers, then you can get them from Walmart. Therefore, depending on your age, state, and license duration, you can pay between $11 and $40. 

Do I Have to Carry My License When Fishing in Colorado?

With most states going digital, Colorado’s fishing industry has not stayed behind; therefore, you can use a digital fishing license instead of walking around with your fishing permit. You can purchase your license the usual way and get a printed option, but you can also access it through their myColorado app.

You must download the app from Google Play or Apple App Store and use it to display your license. With this app, you will never have to worry about walking around with the printed version of your fishing license. (source) This app is the outcome of a perfect collaboration between the DMV, the Department of Revenue, the Governor’s office, the Public safety department, and the Information technology office.

Therefore, with the Colorado Fishing License, you have more than one way to carry and display your license every time you go fishing. 

Where Can I Get Fishing Regulations in Colorado?

Anyone can fish in Colorado without a license on free fishing days, but you have to follow the rules and regulations of fishing in this state. Unfortunately, fishing without a license on the other days of the year is illegal, and if caught, you may have to pay a penalty. Therefore, ensure you have a permit before visiting any public fishing spot in Colorado.

Even with your license on you, there are still several rules and regulations that you have to follow. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department set the regulations, stipulating the type of fishing methods that are legal in Colorado, with some, like electrofishing being illegal.

Remember, catch and release is quite common worldwide, and there are some fish species you’re not allowed to take home. Therefore, these regulations will show you which fish species you can carry home and the ones that you may have to return to the water. Remember, there is a hefty fine to pay if found with a prohibited fish species. Plus, some lakes and streams have a bag limit for certain fish species to which every angler must adhere.

Knowing these details can come in handy when fishing in Colorado and prevent you from paying some hefty fines while enjoying your weekend. Plus, some fishing spots have their own rules and regulations. So here is a link with everything you need to know about fishing in some of the popular fishing spots in Colorado. (source)

For instance, when fishing Salmon, trout, or mountain white fish in Colorado, you have a possession limit of about eight fish and can carry only 4 per day. But if you’re looking for an unlimited number of fish to take home, you should visit the western parts of the continental divide, where you can carry as many smallmouth bass as you want. (source) Therefore, knowing these regulations can help you have fun while fishing in Colorado.

Colorado Fly Fishing
Colorado Fly Fishing

What Is the Fishing License Age Requirement for Colorado?

Fishing is a fan activity that includes everyone in the family, but you must get a fishing license if you’re over 16 years old. In Colorado, youth between 16 and 17 years old can buy a permit for $10.23. But if you’re under 16, you can fish for free, but you may have to pay $ 11.28 for the second-rod stamp if you plan on using a second line. (source)

The resident adults, which includes anglers between the ages of 17 and 65, can carry a license that allows them to fish and take crustaceans, amphibians, and fish, except the ones that are prohibited. Adult residents pay about $36.71, while non-residents pay $102 annually. Anyone over 65 can also have fun with their grandkids at some of the best fly fishing spots.

Fortunately, the seniors can also get an annual combo fishing/small game license for $31.03, which includes a wildlife education and a search & rescue fee.

When Do Colorado Fishing Licenses Expire?

Generally, the fishing licenses in Colorado go on sale from March 1, and they remain valid for 13 months or until March 31 of the following year. (source) Therefore, with this license, you can fish at any fishing spot in Colorado. But you may have to pay more for a second-rod stamp which also lasts for a season.

Remember, the second-rod stamp does not increase your bag limit but allows you to carry an extra hand line and rods.

Can You Fish Without a License in Colorado?

As aforementioned, you can fish in Colorado for free, but only on the free fishing days, usually the first weekend of June. But you need a license to fish for the rest of the year, and if found fishing without a permit, you can face a fine of about $50. On the other hand, kids below 16 years old can fish for free in Colorado.

Can You Fish on Private Property Without a License?

In many states, you don’t need a fishing or hunting license to do what you love on private land, and Colorado is no exception. But ensure you get permission to fish in any pond on private land from the owner or caretaker.

But for the pond to be considered private property, the state stipulates the pond must not have stream outlets or an inlet; basically, the pond has to be entirely contained in the owners’ property.

You don’t need a license to fish there if the pond has its own closed system and is not linked to Colorado’s waters. Plus, you cannot release all the fish species held on private lands into the state waters.

What Is the Fine for Fishing Without a License in Colorado?

Fishing without a license is a misdemeanor, and If caught, you can pay a fine of not less than $25 or over $250. (source) Remember, paying the fine is admitting to fishing illegally, which can have more effect on your fishing trip. You may get 10 points on your fishing license or even get your permit canceled. But the penalty will be determined by the severity of your offense.

What Is the Fishing Season in Colorado?

Colorado is home to several top fishing destinations that offer anglers everything they will ever need to have fun. But the fishing seasons here are determined by the fish species and certain lakes or streams. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department has split this state’s drainage into about 17 maps, with each having its unique fishing destinations with its own rules and regulations. Some of the most common ones are:

The Upper Arkansas River

The Upper Arkansas River stretches from where it merges with the Lake Fork to Parkdale. The region has several reservoirs and creeks that offer anglers a unique fishing opportunity. But some of them have their unique fishing season.

For instance, if your primary target is Kokanee salmon, you should visit the Upper Arkansas River between October 1 and December 31, when the Kokanee population is relatively high. (source)

Blue River Basin

Generally, at the Blue River Basin, Kokanee fishing starts in September and ends on December 31. It will vary a bit with the place where you plan to fish.

In other places, like around the Sylvan Lake outlet, fishing is usually closed between September 1 and November 30, allowing the fish more time to reproduce and increase in numbers before anglers cast their lines.

Some reservoirs, like the Button Rock Reservoir, have a low trout population; therefore, anglers are only allowed a possession and bag limit of 2. Plus, fishing is usually prohibited for about five months yearly (from November 1 to April 30). Other places like Canyon Creek are locked twice a year, from March 15 and May 31 and from October 1 to November 30. (source)

Middle Colorado & Eagle Rivers

Another massive drainage that is rich in fish all year round is Middle Colorado and Eagle Rivers. The region is open to fishing 12 months a year, except around Sylvan Lake, which is closed in this region between September 1 and November 30, but in some places, fishing is prohibited all year round. For instance, fishing at the Chayenne Creek from the Gold Camp road to the headwaters downstream is not permitted.

At Clear Creek, Chaffee, anglers can only fish kokanee salmons between October 1 and December 31. On the other hand, fishing at the Cline Ranch State wildlife region stretches from October to the end of February. (source

Generally, every lake or stream has its own fishing season. And that is because of the varying spawning season and the presence of food. Remember, these fishes feed on a wide range of insects you can find on or around the water bodies. Therefore, the more insects there are, the higher the fish population and the high the likelihood of the trout visiting a specific spot.

If you’re fishing from a closed pond, the authority may be looking for an opportunity to give the fish more time to spawn and reproduce. The closed fishing season plays a crucial role in ensuring that we will fish again in the future.         

Even though the state starts selling fishing permits by the beginning of March, the exact fishing season in Colorado runs between April 1 and March 31 every year. Fortunately, most unique fishing spots are on state and federally-owned waters open all year long. Therefore, you can access these fishing spots even in winter.

The state has set the best time for fishing specific species in Colorado as a popular fishing destination. And fishing a protected fish species can result in a penalty or your license getting canceled. The best time to fish certain fish species in Colorado are:

Fish speciesOpening dateClosed date
General fishingApril 1March 31
BassMay 1June 14
TroutJuly 1September 5
WalleyeApril 1July 31
Kokanee (upper Arkansas River)October 1December 31

Frequently Asked Questions for Fishing in Colorado

Where Can I Fish in Colorado?

Colorado is home to some of the best fishing spots on the continent, which include some of the most beautiful city parks with rivers, ponds, and lakes. Colorado has over 158 named rivers; therefore, anglers are spoilt for choice when visiting this state. Some popular fishing spots include Fryingpan, Animas, Colorado Springs Area, and South Platte River.

These lakes and rivers are home to some of the best game fish species on the planet; for instance, Crystal River provides lots of rainbows, browns, brooks, and cutthroats. Some unique spots along the Fryingpan River can provide you with some of the most scenic views of Mountain Vistas. For more details on the best places to fish in Colorado check out this page 👉 Fly Fishing in Colorado

Can I Fish at Night in Colorado?

Unless otherwise, all the fishing spots in Colorado are open to fishing all year long. They are open 365 days a year, seven days a week, and 24 hours per day; therefore, you can fish at night in several fishing destinations in Colorado. But you must consider your security and be prepared to deal with the cold and visibility. So make sure you have the right gear for fishing at night before trying it.

How Many Fishing Poles Can I Have?

Each fishing license entitles you to only one fishing rod in Colorado. But if you wish to have more fishing rods, you may have to purchase an additional rod stamp for all the extra rods. Remember, fishing using extra rods without the stamp is illegal and can result in some penalties.

Do You Need a Fishing License in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Yes, but it’s the same license you would get for Colorado. RMNP is an amazing fly fishing destination. Read where to go Where to Fly Fish in Rocky Mountain National Park

Hi David Humphries Owner of Guide Recommended. I love everything to do with fly fishing. Casting, Tying, YouTube, writing about it and even teaching. I’ve got a FREE video workshop teaching how to dry fly fish at this link How to Fly Fish


  1. Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff, Fishing Season dates and license fees, Accessed September 30, 2022.
  2. Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff, Free Fishing Weekend, – June 4 to June 5, 2022, Accessed September 30, 2022.
  3. Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff, Buy a fishing license, Accessed September 30, 2022.
  4. Colorado Park and Wildlife staff, Colorado Fishing, Accessed September 30, 2022.
  5. Code of Colorado Regulation, Accessed September 30, 2022.
  6. William Hiran et al., Penalty for other violation of act, Accessed September 30, 2022.
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