Do You Need a Fishing License in Colorado? Ultimate Guide 2020

In Colorado, there are vast populations of streams, lakes, and water reservoirs that are very abundant with creatures and fish species. Knowing this, it is really fun and enjoyable to have a fishing activity within the state of Colorado. In connection to this, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife implemented a new fishing and hunting rule. With this, the question “do you need a fishing license in Colorado” is actually the main concern.

As we go along, we will give you brief information about the new fishing and hunting rule in Colorado. Moreover, we will also share to you the requirements needed for acquiring a fishing license in the said state, its expiration, and how you can protect your fishing license from revocation.  

Colorado New Fishing Rule

Actually, it was only recently when a new rule in Colorado regarding hunting and fishing requirement has been approved. Based on the new rule, it requires everyone who wants to access the public land of Larimer County, plus Watson Lake and the Cherokee Park, to acquire a license. This license is basically for the primary purpose of hunting and fishing within the area.

Generally, in order to explore the beauty of the place, visitors ageing from 18 years old and above should buy fishing or hunting license. This typically allows visiting the areas of the State Wildlife and the State Trust Land which are leased by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

However, before this rule was implemented, every visitor can access those areas without a license. So, basically, this new rule implies that hiking at the Watson Lake or discovering any activities within the Lone Pine at the State Wildlife needs to have a valid license for hunting or fishing.

Why do you need a fishing license?

Basically, the primary purpose of these areas why do you need a fishing license in Colorado is for the conservation and enhancement of the wildlife habitat. Aside from that, they also offer avenues to wildlife-related activities such as hunting and fishing. These activities are actually an essential part of the conservation legacy of the state of Colorado.

Furthermore, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife also stated that the new rule was set due to a relevant increase in the utilization of the park aside from hunting and fishing. Other activities that contribute to the wildlife’s use are hiking, horseback riding, dog walking, wildlife watching, canoeing, and kayaking. These activities had been assumed to greatly affect the disruption of the wildlife habitat. 

In addition to that, it also affects the hunters and some anglers who pay in these areas via purchasing a license. Although some areas within these parks and wildlife are still being occupied by hunters and fishers, there are spots within this property that are heavily accessed by other users.

How to get a fishing license in Colorado?

Now that we are already aware that you need a fishing license in Colorado based on their new ruling, here’s a quick tour on the requirements needed and how to get one. Moreover, also discussed below is some basic information that you must know in relation to the need for a fishing license in Colorado.

Requirements for a fishing license

In case you want to be on the water in Colorado and experience a good catch, generally, you’ll ask, do you need a fishing license in Colorado. As we mentioned, based on their new ruling, you’ll have to initially acquire a license permit prior to your fishing activity within the state. The need for a fishing license in Colorado permits you to catch fishes within the lakes and rivers of the state. Yet, this fishing activity is only allowable on the designated validity date of the document.

Actually, the fishing license in Colorado has the validity to catch fishes of all type within the state. Generally, the time duration may last for one day up to a whole year-round. Moreover, acquiring a license also entails securing a “Wildlife Habitat Stamp”. However, there’s no need to worry about securing this stamp because it automatically comes with other applications.  

Who needs a fishing license?

The common question is do you need a fishing license in Colorado? Do you really need it? Who really needs a fishing license in Colorado? Below is the list of those who need a valid fishing license in Colorado:

  • Angler 16 years old and older
  • Residents and non-residents of Colorado 
  • However, this involves a separate application process. Once you live in the state for more than 6 consecutive months, then you are an eligible resident of the state. You’ll only need to show the following supporting documents:
    • Driver’s license issued by the state
    • Social security number
    • Utility bill
    • Income tax bill – for the application of the senior lifetime fishing license in Colorado just bring the updated tax returns or affidavit of explanation
do you need a fishing license in Colorado - senior resident

How much is the cost of a fishing license in Colorado?

Actually, when you do need a fishing license in Colorado, the cost varies depending on the age and status of residency. Moreover, a range of options for purchasing the need of a fishing license in Colorado is generally available. Aside from that, the prices also depend if you are a resident of Colorado or not. 

Basically, there are offers that only applicable to state-residents only. However, for those who are from other states, you do not need to worry as you can also avail short-term licenses which are not applicable for state residents.

In addition, there are relevant discounts available for senior citizens and youth residents of the state upon buying your need of a fishing license in Colorado. On the other hand, the lifetime fishing license in Colorado only applies for senior residents that have an income lower than the poverty line.

Annual fee for Adult$35.17$97.97
Annual fee for Youth (16 to 17 years old)$9.85NA
Annual fee for Seniors$9.85NA
Lifetime fee for Low-income Seniors$9.85NA
5-Day Fishing feeNA$32.14
1-Day Fishing fee$13.90$16.94
Extra day charges$6.81$6.81
Extra rod charges$10.87$10.87

*Important Note:

All of the prices indicated above already have an additional charge of $1.75 which includes the educational fee and search-and-rescue rate. Additionally, an extra charge of $10.13 should be paid and must be purchased over the Wildlife Habitat Stamp. The fund collected via this activity will be forwarded to the preservation and sustenance of the wildlife-related programs.

The free acquisition

Generally, both residents and non-residents of Colorado states may acquire a fishing license. However, when do you need a fishing license in Colorado, it also entails designated charges or fees. The good news is a fishing license in Colorado also comes for free. But, who are eligible for the need of a fishing license in Colorado for free. 

Here are those who are eligible for a free fishing license in Colorado:

  • Children below 16 years old provided that their accompanying adult have a valid license for fishing in Colorado
  • Residents with disabilities may have the opportunity to apply for a free lifetime fishing license in the state of Colorado. Below are the requirements needed to prove the status:
    • Disability benefit for 7 years
    • A disabled
    • Letter from a physician notifying that you are disabled 
    • Supporting documents from the Department of Workers’ Compensation
  • Military veterans who are a resident of the state of Colorado and almost 60% inactive from duty. They can generally acquire a free license from both fishing and hunting combination.

٭Important Note:

Those individuals who are capable of getting a free fishing license in Colorado can also avail fishing even without the need to purchase a Wildlife Habitat Stamp. 

do you need a fishing license in Colorado - youth

Where to buy it?

Actually, it is really easy and simple when you do need a fishing license in Colorado. The options are widely available for residents and non-residents of the states. You can generally get and purchase a fishing license in Colorado through the following options and then you are all set to go fishing in Colorado. 


Do you need a fishing license in Colorado but you are too busy for some important errands? Well, worry no more as you can able to purchase this fishing license directly from your home. You just simply need to create an account and fill out the online form available. Once done, you’re basically ready for fishing within Colorado.


Acquisition of a valid fishing license in Colorado can also be easily accessed through the phone. Basically, when you do need a fishing license in Colorado, just speak with trained sales personnel. From there, the salespeople will help you through the step-by-step method of application. 


Once you do need a fishing license in Colorado, you can actually purchase one from a licensed retailer or you can go directly to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Fortunately, there are vast numbers of official sellers of fishing license within the state. This includes hardware stores, tackle stores, and Walmart.

٭Important Note:

Always remember that ordering a short-term fishing license may not allow you for getting a paper copy of the license. You will only get a temporary authorization number or TAM that will primarily serve as your license.

Meanwhile, once you order fishing license on a yearly basis through online or via phone, the license will arrive through the mail for a period of 14 days. Moreover, in case you get into the water immediately, ensure that you have with you your TAM and you can actually fish until such time your license arrives. 

Fishing License and Its Expiration

Generally, the yearly fishing license in Colorado has a validity that starts from April 1 up to March 31 of the succeeding year. The thing that you must do is to apply for renewal the next year prior to March 31 so that your fishing activity will be continued.

On the other hand, in terms of short-term license like 1-day or 5-day fishing session or the additional day license, the expiration date would generally be around midnight of the last day. Also, remember that lifelong fishing licenses in Colorado do not have an expiration limit.

However, it is better to verify this concern before April 1 in case there are any changes made within the next fishing season.

Can you be arrested without a fishing license?

Basically, you cannot be arrested when you fish without the need of a fishing license in Colorado. However, there are penalties available once you caught fishing without a fishing license in Colorado. 

Actually, fishing along with hunting, are the most popular pastimes in the US. Yet, you just need to strictly follow all the rules and regulations that are set in place for the preservation and protection of Colorado wildlife. Once you break those rules, basically expect to face serious consequences based on the severity of the fishing violation.

Fines and penalties

The penalty for hunting and fishing in Colorado without a valid license only entails a monetary fine. This generally applies most of the time. Basically, you’ll need to pay around $50 as a fine for fishing without securing a valid fishing license in Colorado. 

The moment you pay this fine, you prove to be guilty. Generally, this can have a great impact on your fishing trip. Moreover, once you prove to be guilty for the act of fishing without a license, it simply means that you are accepting ten points over your fishing license in Colorado. 

Wildlife Violation Points

Actually, most states in the US follow a violation points system. In Colorado, they utilize the same system for hunting and fishing license in Colorado. Basically, each hunter and fisherman that is just starting out has 0 points. 

Once you are convicted with a hunting crime or fishing violation, you automatically credit points. Earning of around 20 points for a period of five years will subject your hunting and fishing license in Colorado to revocation. Additionally, most violations entail a fine.

Furthermore, once you are found guilty fishing without a valid license in Colorado will let you earn 10 points on the license. Aside from that, the moment you are caught having any fish at the time you do not have a license for fishing, the fine and violation points can increase immediately.

Initially, the first fish will make you a fine of another $35. Moreover, an extra five points will be credited to your license that already has 10 points. As the fish in your possession adds up, an additional $10 fine and extra points will also increase.

Final Thoughts

Due to the implementation of the new rule for hunting and fishing in Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the answer for the basic question “do you need a fishing license in Colorado” is a big YES! The primary reason for the CPW for imposing this rule is basically for the preservation and protection of wildlife and their habitat. Actually, it is not that hard to get a valid fishing license in Colorado. 

Both residents and non-residents of the state can actually apply for this license and enjoy fishing. However, there are other requirements needed in order to achieve a valid fishing license in Colorado. Additionally, you must also be aware of its renewal every year so that you can enjoy fishing within the state. But, be also very cautious to always bring with you this fishing license because it may gather violation points and might be revoked once you fish without it.