Fishing in Colorado’s pristine waters is an angler’s dream come true. With over 6,000 miles of streams, 1,300 lakes, and 35 species of fish, the state offers endless opportunities for a memorable fishing experience. However, before you can cast your line, you need to obtain the appropriate fishing license. This ultimate guide will help you navigate the differences between annual and short-term Colorado fishing licenses, ensuring you make an informed decision based on your needs.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find:

  • A detailed breakdown of annual and short-term fishing license options for residents and non-residents.
  • Cost comparisons to help you determine the most cost-effective choice based on your fishing frequency.
  • Important considerations, such as conservation efforts and additional permits or stamps required.
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to purchase your preferred license option.

Annual Colorado Fishing Licenses

An annual fishing license in Colorado is valid for 13 months, from March 1 of the current year to March 31 of the following year. This option is ideal for avid anglers who plan to fish frequently throughout the year or those who want the convenience of not having to worry about renewing their license for an extended period.

Resident Annual Fishing Licenses

Colorado residents have the following options for annual fishing licenses:

  • Adult Annual License (18+): $41.83
  • Youth Annual License (16-17): $11.47
  • Senior Annual License (65+): $11.47
  • Low-Income Senior Lifetime Fishing License (64+): $11.21 (one-time fee)

In addition to the license fee, all anglers aged 18-64 must purchase a mandatory $12.15 Habitat Stamp with their first fishing license of the season. This stamp helps fund wildlife habitat conservation and management efforts in Colorado.

Non-Resident Annual Fishing Licenses

For non-residents, the annual fishing license fee is $117.14. Non-residents must also purchase the $12.15 Habitat Stamp with their first fishing license of the season.

Short-Term Colorado Fishing Licenses

If you’re planning a short fishing trip to Colorado or want to test the waters before committing to an annual license, short-term licenses are an excellent option. These licenses are available for both residents and non-residents.

Resident Short-Term Fishing Licenses

Colorado residents can purchase the following short-term fishing licenses:

  • One-Day License: $16.33
  • Additional Day License: $7.82 (can be added to a one-day license)

Non-Resident Short-Term Fishing Licenses

Non-residents have the following short-term fishing license options:

  • One-Day License: $19.97
  • Five-Day License: $38.19
  • Additional Day License: $7.82 (can be added to a one-day or five-day license)

It’s important to note that the Habitat Stamp fee is waived for the first two short-term licenses purchased in a season. If you purchase a third short-term license, the $12.15 Habitat Stamp fee will be applied.

Which License Should You Choose?

The decision between an annual or short-term Colorado fishing license depends on several factors, including your residency status, frequency of fishing, and budget.

Annual License: Best for Frequent Anglers

If you’re a Colorado resident who plans to fish regularly throughout the year, an annual license is the most cost-effective option. It provides the convenience of not having to worry about renewing your license for 13 months, allowing you to fish whenever the opportunity arises.

For non-residents, an annual license is a wise choice if you plan to spend an extended period in Colorado or make multiple fishing trips throughout the year. It can save you money compared to purchasing multiple short-term licenses.

Short-Term License: Ideal for Occasional Fishing Trips

Short-term licenses are perfect for Colorado residents who only plan to fish occasionally or for non-residents visiting the state for a short fishing vacation. The one-day or five-day licenses offer flexibility and affordability, allowing you to enjoy fishing without committing to an annual license.

Additional Considerations

When choosing your Colorado fishing license, keep the following factors in mind:

Fishing Regulations

Familiarize yourself with Colorado’s fishing regulations, which cover bag limits, size restrictions, and other important rules. These regulations are designed to promote sustainable fishing practices and protect the state’s aquatic resources.

Conservation Efforts

A portion of the revenue generated from fishing license sales goes towards conservation efforts, habitat restoration, and public access to fishing opportunities. By purchasing a license, you’re contributing to the preservation of Colorado’s natural resources.

Free Fishing Days

Colorado offers free fishing days on the first full weekend of June each year. During this period, residents and non-residents can fish without a license, providing an excellent opportunity to introduce newcomers to the sport or try out different fishing spots.

Additional Permits

Depending on where you plan to fish, you may need additional permits or stamps. For example, some State Wildlife Areas or State Trust Lands require a separate access pass or permit.

How to Purchase Your Colorado Fishing License

Purchasing your Colorado fishing license is a straightforward process, with multiple convenient options available:

  1. Online: Visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website and follow the prompts to purchase your license online.
  2. By Phone: Call 1-800-244-5613 and speak with a sales representative to complete your purchase over the phone.
  3. In Person: Visit a local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office or an authorized sales agent statewide to purchase your license in person.

When purchasing online or by phone, you’ll receive a temporary authorization number (TAN) that can be used for up to 45 days until your physical license arrives in the mail. Be sure to have your TAN with you while fishing during this period.


Whether you opt for an annual or short-term Colorado fishing license, the decision ultimately comes down to your individual needs and preferences. By understanding the differences between these options and considering factors like frequency of fishing, residency status, and budget, you can make an informed choice that maximizes your fishing experience while supporting conservation efforts in Colorado.

Remember, obtaining the appropriate fishing license is not only a legal requirement but also a responsible step towards preserving the state’s natural resources for generations to come. So, grab your rod, secure your license, and get ready to explore the diverse and breathtaking fishing destinations that Colorado has to offer.

Can I use my Colorado fishing license in other states?

No, your Colorado fishing license is only valid within the state of Colorado. Each state has its own licensing requirements, and you must obtain the appropriate license to fish legally in other states.

Do I need a separate license for different types of fishing (e.g., fly fishing, ice fishing)?

In most cases, a standard Colorado fishing license covers various fishing methods, including fly fishing and ice fishing. However, some specific activities or locations may require additional permits or stamps, which can be obtained when purchasing your license.

Can I purchase a fishing license online?

Yes, you can conveniently purchase both annual and short-term fishing licenses online through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website . This option allows you to obtain your license from the comfort of your home or while on the go.

Are there any discounts available for fishing licenses?

Colorado offers discounted fishing license fees for certain groups, such as seniors, youth, and disabled anglers. Additionally, some organizations or clubs may provide discounts or special offers for their members. Be sure to inquire about any available discounts when purchasing your license.

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