Are you planning a fishing trip to the stunning waters of Colorado? Before you cast your line, it’s crucial to understand the state’s fishing license requirements and fees. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Colorado fishing licenses in 2024, including types, costs, where to buy, and answers to frequently asked questions. By the end, you’ll be fully prepared to enjoy your Colorado fishing adventure while supporting the state’s vital conservation efforts.

Why You Need a Colorado Fishing License

In Colorado, anyone 16 years or older must have a valid fishing license to fish in the state’s waters. This applies to both residents and non-residents. Children under 16 can fish for free without a license.

Purchasing a fishing license is not only a legal requirement but also an investment in Colorado’s natural resources. Fishing license fees directly fund fish stocking, habitat restoration, public access improvements, and conservation programs that benefit anglers and wildlife alike. By obtaining a license, you contribute to maintaining healthy fish populations and preserving the state’s world-class fishing opportunities for future generations.

Types of Colorado Fishing Licenses and Fees

Colorado offers several types of fishing licenses to cater to different needs and budgets. Here’s a breakdown of the main options and their 2024 fees:

Annual Fishing Licenses

  • Resident Annual Fishing License (ages 18-64): $41.83
  • Non-Resident Annual Fishing License: $117.14
  • Senior Annual Fishing License (65+, CO residents only): $11.47
  • Youth Annual Fishing License (ages 16-17): $11.47 for residents, same as non-resident adult for non-residents

Short-Term Fishing Licenses

  • 1-Day Fishing License: $16.33 for residents, $19.97 for non-residents
  • 5-Day Fishing License (non-residents only): $38.19
  • Additional Day Fishing License: $7.82 for both residents and non-residents

Combo Licenses (CO residents only)

  • Small Game & Fishing Combo License: $60.05
  • Senior Small Game & Fishing Combo License (65+): $35.32

Special Licenses & Stamps

  • Low-Income Senior Lifetime Fishing License (64+, CO residents only): $10
  • Senior Lifetime Fishing Upgrade (65+, for low-income or disability lifetime license holders): $22.56
  • Second Rod Stamp (available to all licensed anglers): $12.68
  • Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) Stamp: $25 for residents, $50 for non-residents

In addition to the license fee, all anglers aged 18-64 must purchase a Habitat Stamp for $12.15 with their first license of the year. This stamp is valid from April 1 to March 31 of the following year.

It’s important to note that anglers are exempt from the Habitat Stamp fee for the first two 1-day or additional day licenses purchased. The fee will be assessed on the third purchase of these license types.

Where to Buy a Colorado Fishing License

You can purchase a Colorado fishing license through several convenient methods:

  1. Online through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) website.
  2. By phone at 1-800-244-5613.
  3. In-person at CPW offices, State Parks, and hundreds of authorized sales agents like sporting goods stores, bait shops, and Walmarts statewide.

When purchasing a license, make sure to have the following information ready:

  • Your driver’s license or state-issued ID
  • Social Security Number
  • Proof of Colorado residency (if applicable)
  • Proof of age (for senior and youth licenses)
  • Proof of low income or disability status (if applicable)

Free Fishing Opportunities in Colorado

While fishing licenses are generally required, Colorado does offer a few opportunities to fish without one:

  • Free Fishing Weekend: Held annually on the first full weekend of June, anyone can fish without a license on these two days.
  • Children Under 16: Kids under 16 can fish for free year-round.
  • Disabled Veterans: Colorado residents who are military veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 60% or more can obtain a free lifetime combination small game and fishing license.

How long is my fishing license valid?

Annual Colorado fishing licenses are valid from April 1 to March 31 of the following year, regardless of when you purchase them. Short-term licenses are valid for the specified number of days from the date of purchase.

Do I need a separate license for each fishing location?

No, a Colorado fishing license is valid statewide. However, certain areas may have specific regulations or catch limits, so always check the current Colorado Fishing Regulations before your trip.

Can I fish without my physical license if I have a temporary authorization number?

Yes, if you purchase your license online or by phone, you will receive a temporary authorization number (TAN) that allows you to fish immediately. Your physical license will arrive by mail within 14 days. Make sure to carry your TAN with you while fishing until your license arrives.

What happens if I lose my fishing license?

If you lose your physical license, you can request a duplicate online, by phone, or at a CPW office or sales agent. There may be a small fee for the replacement.

How do fishing license fees support conservation in Colorado?

Colorado Parks and Wildlife does not receive general tax dollars from the state. Fishing license fees directly fund fish stocking, habitat restoration, public access improvements, and conservation programs that benefit anglers and wildlife alike. By purchasing a license, you contribute to maintaining healthy fish populations and preserving Colorado’s world-class fishing opportunities for generations to come.

Final Thoughts

Obtaining a fishing license is a simple yet essential step in planning your Colorado fishing adventure. By understanding the types of licenses available, their costs, and where to purchase them, you’ll be well-prepared to enjoy the state’s renowned fishing opportunities while supporting crucial conservation efforts.

Remember to always check the current Colorado Fishing Regulations for season dates, catch limits, and area-specific rules before heading out. With a valid license in hand, you’re ready to cast a line in Colorado’s stunning lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and streams.

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