Hooked on Fishing Colorado? Here’s What It Costs to Get Your License

Fishing is a beloved pastime in Colorado with over 9,000 miles of trout streams, lakes and reservoirs across stunning landscapes. Before casting your line, you’ll need to get a proper fishing license. This guide breaks down everything you need to know about getting licensed.

Why Do You Need a Fishing License in Colorado?

Colorado requires all anglers 16 and older to have a valid fishing license to fish in public waters. This applies to both residents and non-residents. The purpose of the license requirement is to help the Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) agency manage and protect the state’s aquatic resources.

Revenue from license sales goes towards:

  • Stocking lakes and streams with fish
  • Securing water access and easements
  • Funding hatchery operations
  • Habitat improvement projects
  • Scientific studies and population surveys

So by purchasing a license, you directly support the conservation of Colorado’s treasured fisheries.

2024 Colorado Fishing License Options & Fees

There are several license types valid for different durations. Fees vary for residents versus non-residents.

Resident License Prices:

  • Annual: $36.71
  • Senior Annual (65+): $10.95
  • Senior Low-Income Lifetime: $10.71
  • Youth Annual (16-17): $10.95

Non-Resident License Prices:

  • Annual: $113.03
  • 5-Day: $36.26
  • 1-Day: $19.01
  • Additional Day: $7.50

All prices include surcharges. Those 18+ must also buy a $11.50 habitat stamp with first license each year.

Purchasing Your Colorado Fishing License

Fortunately, getting your license is quick and convenient through several methods:


The easiest way is to purchase directly through CPW’s online portal. Just create an account and complete the application. You can print a temporary authorization number to use until your license arrives by mail in 5-10 days.

By Phone Call 1-800-244-5613. A sales agent will guide you through applying over the phone. Processing fees apply.

In-Person Licenses can be purchased at CPW offices, hundreds of retailers like sporting goods stores and Walmart, some state parks or campgrounds.

Carrying & Displaying Your License

You must carry your paper license or online purchase receipt with you while fishing as proof of a valid license. Digital copies on your phone are also accepted. Licenses must be shown to wildlife officials if asked.

Know the Regulations

Be sure to review Colorado fishing regulations covering daily limits, equipment rules, authorized bait, and restricted areas. Regulations help conserve fisheries. You can be fined for violations.

Key Takeaways on Licensing

  • All anglers 16+ must buy and carry a CO fishing license
  • Prices range from $19 to $113 for non-residents
  • Purchase online, by phone or from retailers/CPW offices
  • Carry digital or paper license at all times when fishing

Stay legal and support Colorado’s waters by getting your license! With prices starting around $20, there’s no reason not to enjoy the state’s world-class fishing.

Additional Colorado Fishing Rules & Regulations

Now that you know how and where to get your Colorado fishing license, be sure to also familiarize yourself with local regulations. Abiding by fishing guidelines helps preserve healthy fish populations for generations to come.

Make sure any tackle and techniques you use are authorized in Colorado:

✅ 1 pole with up to 3 hooks allowed per angler

✅ Still fishing, fly fishing, trolling allowed

✅ Using up to 6 tip-ups for ice fishing OK

❌ No snagging/snatching fish with hooks

❌ No firearms, explosives, poisons, electricity

Daily Bag & Possession Limits

Bag and possession restrictions help prevent overharvest of popular game fish like trout and walleye. Daily limits dictate the number per person per day while possession is the max you can have in total at one time. Examples:


  • Daily Bag: 4 fish
  • Possession: 8 fish


  • Daily Bag: 3 fish
  • Possession: 6 fish

Properly Measuring Fish

Several species have minimum length requirements. Use a flat measuring board or tape to accurately determine a fish’s total length tip-to-tail. Gently squeeze tails to maximize length.

Fishing With Live Bait

  • Use only legal baitfish listed in the regulations.
  • Baitfish can only be used on the water they were caught from.
  • Seines and nets cannot exceed 10 feet for bait collection.
  • Minnow traps must have owner’s name and address.

Handling & Releasing Fish

  • Use barbless hooks whenever possible.
  • Quickly play and release fish to minimize harm.
  • Revive exhausted trout by holding upright in water.
  • Don’t remove fish from water for photos.

Be sure to thoroughly review all fishing regulations before wetting a line in Colorado. Being informed on policies ensures you stay legal while supporting healthy ecosystems.

Key Colorado Fishing Waters & What They Hold

From high mountain streams to large reservoirs, Colorado offers diverse fisheries with chances to catch coolwater, warmwater and coldwater species. Here’s the rundown on top destinations and what they hold.

Gold Medal Trout Waters

Colorado designates its top-producing trout fisheries as Gold Medal Waters. All support 6 pound-plus trout! Prime destinations include:

  • South Platte River: Rainbow and brown trout averaging 14-20 inches.
  • Frying Pan River: Trophy rainbow and brown trout over 15 inches plus feisty brookies.
  • Gunnison River: Recently designated Gold Medal Water holding rainbows exceeding 20 inches.
  • Lake Pueblo: Stocked rainbows, browns and cutthroats with many 4-6 pound fish.

Premier Walleye Lakes

For hard-fighting walleye, target these hotspots:

  • Pueblo Reservoir: High densities with fish over 10 pounds.
  • Chatfield Reservoir: Abundant 2-5 pound fish and high catch rates.
  • Lake Granby: Known for numbers of chunky 15-inch-plus fish.

Bass & Panfish Destinations

Warmwater fans should fish:

  • John Martin Reservoir: Largemouth and smallmouth bass over 5 pounds plus crappie and bluegill.
  • Ridgway Reservoir: Smallmouth bass fishery with high populations.
  • Lake Nighthorse: Recently opened lake near Durango with nice largemouth and smallmouth bass.

As you can see, Colorado offers diverse fisheries to target all species. Use this guide to help decide where to focus your efforts.

Key Takeaways – Enjoy Colorado Fishing to the Fullest!

  • All anglers 16+ need a valid CO fishing license
  • Prices range from $20-$113 for non-residents
  • Gold Medal rivers hold large trout
  • Top lakes provide trophy walleye, bass and panfish
  • Review all regulations before fishing

Armed with your license and knowledge of top destinations, regulations and tips, you’re set for amazing fishing in Colorado. With endless public access and fishable days year-round, wet a line and enjoy the state’s world-class fisheries. Just don’t forget it all starts with getting a proper fishing license!

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