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Fishing in Sterling, CO without a license: Legal or not?

You’re in Sterling, Colorado, ready to cast your line and reel in some fish. But wait! Do you have your fishing license? Fishing without a valid license in Colorado can lead to serious consequences, including fines and even the loss of your fishing privileges. Don’t let a day of fun turn into a legal nightmare. In this article, we’ll dive into the specifics of fishing license requirements in Sterling and throughout Colorado, so you can enjoy your fishing adventure worry-free.

The Lowdown on Colorado Fishing Licenses

Before you head out to your favorite fishing spot in Sterling, make sure you have a valid Colorado fishing license if you’re 16 or older. You can purchase an annual fishing license, which is valid from March 1st to March 31st of the following year, or opt for a 1-day or 5-day pass.

Here are the costs for Colorado fishing licenses:

  • Annual fishing license (ages 18+): $36.71
  • Senior annual fishing license (ages 65+): $10.23
  • Youth annual fishing license (ages 16-17): $10.23
  • Nonresident annual fishing license: $102.40
  • Nonresident 5-day fishing license: $33.53
  • Nonresident 1-day fishing license: $17.64

Don’t forget that if you’re between 18-64 years old, you may also need to purchase a $10.59 Habitat Stamp along with your license.

Where to Get Your License

You have several convenient options for purchasing a Colorado fishing license:

  1. Online through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) website
  2. By phone at 1-800-244-5613
  3. At CPW offices
  4. From authorized sales agents like sporting goods stores and other retailers

In Sterling, you can buy your license at local businesses such as Walmart and various bait and tackle shops.

The Consequences of Fishing Without a License

Now, let’s talk about what happens if you get caught fishing without a valid license in Colorado. Violators may face fines starting at $100 and an assessment of 10 license suspension points. If you accumulate 20 or more points within a five-year period, your fishing privileges could be suspended.

But wait, there’s more! If you’re caught with fish in your possession while fishing without a license, you may be charged an additional $35 for the first fish and $10 for each subsequent fish. These fines can quickly add up, putting a serious damper on your fishing fun.

Repeat offenders face even harsher penalties, including steeper fines and possible jail time. Plus, if you rack up too many violation points, your hunting and fishing privileges could be suspended not only in Colorado but also in 47 other states that participate in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.

Fishing at North Sterling State Park

North Sterling State Park is a popular fishing destination near Sterling, boasting a 3,000-acre reservoir stocked with walleye, catfish, crappie, and bass. But before you cast your line, remember that all Colorado fishing license requirements and regulations apply within the park.

In addition to statewide rules, North Sterling State Park has some specific regulations to keep in mind:

  • Minimum size limits: 15 inches for bass, 10 inches for crappie
  • Bag limits: 5 walleye per day, only 1 over 21 inches
  • Seasonal fishing closures in the inlet area to protect spawning fish

To stay informed about park-specific regulations, check the posted signage around the reservoir, visit the CPW website, or grab a copy of the state’s fishing brochure.

Exceptions to the Rule

While a fishing license is required in most cases, there are a few exceptions:

  1. Free Fishing Weekend: Held annually on the first full weekend of June, anyone can fish without a license during this two-day event.
  2. Youth Anglers: Kids under 16 can fish for free year-round (but they’ll need a second rod stamp if they want to use a second line).
  3. Private Property: Fishing at a licensed commercial facility or a fully enclosed private pond may not require a license (but you’ll still need permission from the property owner).
  4. Special Fishing Events: CPW may occasionally host events where participants can fish without a license.

If you’re unsure whether you need a license for a specific situation, it’s always better to be safe than sorry—purchase a license or contact your local CPW office for clarification.

Why Fishing Licenses Matter

You might be thinking, “Why should I bother getting a fishing license?” Well, not only does having a valid license keep you on the right side of the law, but it also directly supports CPW’s conservation efforts. The money generated from fishing license sales helps fund fish stocking, habitat restoration, and access improvements, ensuring that Colorado’s fisheries remain healthy and accessible for everyone to enjoy.


In Sterling and throughout Colorado, a valid fishing license is a must-have for anglers 16 and older, with only a few exceptions. By understanding and following the state’s fishing regulations, you can avoid fines, protect your fishing privileges, and contribute to the conservation of Colorado’s amazing fisheries.

So before you head out on your next fishing adventure in Sterling, make sure you have your license in hand. It’s a small price to pay for a day of fun and relaxation on the water, and it helps keep Colorado’s fishing opportunities thriving for generations to come.

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