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Fishing Regulations

WHAT’S NEW: 2023

BAG AND POSSESSION LIMIT MODIFIED AT RIFLE GAP RESERVOIR: Bag, possession and minimum size for walleye is 3, 15 inches long and only 1 walleye longer than 18 inches may be taken per day.

VALLECITO CREEK REGULATIONS UPDATED: Fishing is allowed on Vallecito Creek from the southern boundary of the Weminuche Wilderness down- stream to the standing water line of Vallecito Reservoir. The regulation prohibiting fishing from La Plata CR 501 Bridge downstream to Vallecito Reservoir to protect kokanee salmon has been removed.

GOLD MEDAL WATER ADDITIONS: The Taylor River from Taylor Park Res- ervoir to Almont. The Gunnison River from Almont to U.S. 50 (twin bridges).

NEW RECORDS BY WEIGHT AND LENGTH: Look for the NEW tag on pages 6 and 7 for the newest records by weight and length, and see fishing-records for how to properly weigh and measure your fish.

▶ KNOW BEFORE YOU GO! There are actions you can take and available resources to consult BEFORE you head out on your next adventure that will help make your fishing experience the best it can be.

CPW encourages you to disinfect your fishing gear (page 4), know the statewide and special regulations for the water you plan to visit (start- ing on page 8), and be aware of the local fishing conditions such as water level/stream flow and water temperature (page 5). You may also contact the local CPW Area Office for more information:



1. PROPER IDENTIFICATION and PROOF of residency (for CO residents).

2. HABITAT STAMP: A 2023 or lifetime Habitat Stamp is required prior to buying a license for anyone ages 18–64. One will be automatically added to your purchase, if applicable.

NOTE: A Social Security number is required for new customers age 16 and older (age 12 for a second-rod stamp), per federal law.


▶ ADULTS: People 16 and older are required to buy and carry with them a fishing license to fish or take fish, amphibians and crustaceans, except as prohibited.

▶ YOUTH: Residents ages 16–17 can purchase a fishing license for $10.23. Those under 16 can take a full bag and possession limit without a license. However, they must have a second-rod stamp if fishing with a second line.

▶ SENIORS: Colorado residents age 65 and older can obtain an annual senior fishing license for $10.23 or an annual senior combo small game/fishing license for $31.03, both of which include the 25-cent search-and-rescue fee and the $1.50 Wildlife Education Fund fee. License must be carried while fishing. Seniors must have a second-rod stamp if fishing with a second line. a. Senior lifetime low-income fishing licenses also are available for Colorado residents age 64 or older. For information and eligibility requirements, contact any CPW location.

▶ SECOND-ROD STAMP: Anglers can use a second rod, hand line or tip-up by purchasing a second-rod stamp. One stamp is allowed per season and is nontransferable. A second-rod stamp does not entitle an angler to an additional bag limit, nor can it be used for another person to fish. a. Those with disability licenses must purchase a stamp if fishing with a second line. b. A second-rod stamp is not required when only using trot-lines or jugs. c. Youth under 16 must have and carry with them a second-rod stamp if fishing with a second line. d. Seniors fishing with a senior license must have and carry with them a second-rod stamp if fishing with a second line.

▶ COMMERCIAL LICENSE: $40. An annual license is required to take or possess bait fish, amphibians or crustaceans for commercial purposes. Licensees must provide live-fish buyers with a receipt stating the seller’s name, date of sale, species and number sold. For application and annual reporting requirements, visit:

▶ CHILD SUPPORT DELINQUENCY: State and federal law require a Social Security number to buy a license. It is not displayed on the license but is provided, if requested, to Child Support Enforcement authorities. Hunting and fishing licenses are not issued to those suspended for noncompliance with child support. Any current licenses become invalid if held by an individual who is deemed noncompliant by Child Support Enforcement.

▶ ARMED FORCES EXEMPTION: Colorado residents on active duty with U.S. armed forces out of state can fish free without a license while here on temporary leave, maximum of 30 days a year. You must carry official leave papers while fishing.



Colorado Parks and Wildlife encourages Colorado residents to go fishing and enjoy eating the fish they catch. Keep in mind that not all fish should be eaten in unlimited amounts. Fish are an important part of a healthy diet: They are a lean, low-calorie source of protein and nutrients. However, some fish meat may contain chemicals that could pose health risks. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, in cooperation with CPW, tests fish throughout the state for the presence of certain contaminants (such as mercury, arsenic and selenium) that may be present in some fish.



▶ The physical residence address you give to buy or apply for a license must be the same as the address given for Colorado state income tax purposes. Visit

▶ You terminate your Colorado residency if you apply for, buy or accept a resident hunting, fishing or trapping license issued by another state or foreign country, register to vote outside Colorado or accept a driver's license that shows an address other than in Colorado.



a. Requirements: You must live in Colorado for at least 6 consecutive months immediately prior to buying or applying for any resident CPW product, have your primary residence in Colorado and have not applied for or purchased a resident license or pass outside of Colorado in the last 6 months.

b. Proof: Current and valid Colorado driver’s license/ID with a Colorado address issued 6 or more months prior. If the Colorado driver’s license/ ID is not 6 months old, you must provide at least two forms of additional residency proof, as outlined in "Additional Residency Proofs" below.


a. Requirements: You must be attending school full time at an accredited Colorado school starting at least 6 months prior to buying or applying for any resident CPW product.

b. Proof: Student ID, name of institution, date you became a full-time student, school transcript showing full-time status.


a. Requirements: You must meet Colorado residency requirements and be attending an accredited school outside of Colorado, paying nonresident tuition.

b. Proof: Student ID, name of institution, date you became a full-time student, proof of out-of-state tuition payment.


a. Requirements: You must be active-duty military stationed in Colorado (including your spouse/dependents). Residency begins the date the orders begin.

b. Proof: Military ID and orders.


a. Requirements: You must be active-duty military stationed outside of Colorado, but with Colorado as your home of record, paying income tax as a Colorado resident (including your spouse/dependents).

b. Proof: Military ID and orders.


Children under the age of 18 have the same residency status as their parent, legal guardian or person with whom they live the majority of the time per court order.



If you otherwise meet residency requirements but your Colorado driver’s license or ID was issued or renewed less than 6 months ago, or you have a CPW-approved religious exemption to photo identification on your record, you must provide at least two additional proofs of residency showing 6 consecutive months of Colorado residency immediately prior to buying or applying for a license. Those proofs include: income sources (pay stubs), utility bills, state income tax documents (as a full-time resident), lease agreements/rent receipts, motor vehicle registration, voter registration.


If you have a home in Colorado and another location, call 303-297-1192 to make sure you comply with Colorado residency requirements before obtaining a CPW license or state park pass.


Habitat Stamps are $11.50 and only one is required per person, per year for anyone ages 18–64. Stamps are valid March 1–March 31 (13 months).

▶ You must purchase a stamp before buying or applying for a hunting or fishing license.

▶ A lifetime stamp is available for $345.36.

▶ Anyone who is approved in the Columbine, Blue Spruce, Independence and/or Big Game Mobility programs is exempt from the Habitat Stamp requirement. See

▶ Learn more online:


CPW offers several programs for hunters and anglers with disabilities. Go to cpw. for more information on each program and how to apply. These programs require advance legal paperwork submissions: Please apply AT LEAST 30 DAYS prior to when you wish to use the permit or license. Due to volume, applications cannot be expedited.


Colorado residents who are totally and permanently disabled can apply for a free lifetime fishing license.


Colorado resident first responders who have proof of a permanent occupational disability can qualify for the First Responder program to obtain a lifetime combo small game/fishing license.


Military veterans who have a service-connected disability (with an overall combined rating of 60% or more by the Dept. of Veteran's Affairs) and are residents of Colorado can obtain a lifetime combo small game/fishing license.



▶ CPW biologists are no longer stocking fish in some waters because illegally introduced fish can compete with and/or eat fish that would normally be stocked. Fish are stocked by CPW in other waters to ensure better use of your license dollars. CPW hatcheries are also raising larger sized fish to stock so that illegally introduced fish have a smaller chance of eating stocked fish. This situation results in increased expenses to CPW, and fewer fish available to anglers.

▶ In the wrong place, some fish species can change the entire ecosystem, reducing the quality of fishing overall and interfering with CPW fishery management.

▶ Unlimited bag and possession limits are often established to aid in the management of species that were illegally stocked and/or not compatible with CPW fishery management.

▶ For waters with no bag and possession limits for certain species, anglers are encouraged to "catch and keep" these fish.


Crawford Reservoir: northern pike

Elkhead Reservoir: northern pike; smallmouth bass

Green Mountain Reservoir: northern pike

Harvey Gap Reservoir: northern pike; smallmouth bass

Juniata Reservoir: smallmouth bass

Kenney Reservoir: northern pike

Ridgway Reservoir: smallmouth bass

Rifle Gap Reservoir: northern pike; smallmouth bass

Stagecoach Reservoir: northern pike; smallmouth bass; walleye

Wolford Mountain Reservoir: northern pike

■ Many other rivers and lakes on the west slope have no bag and possession limits for certain species.



Gold Medal Waters are the highest quality cold-water habitats and have the capability to produce many quality-sized (14 inches or longer) trout.

CPW has established criteria and management guidelines to support the public interest in angling, observing and protecting these significant cold-water fishery resources.

Gold Medal Waters are defined as any river or lake which is producing a standing stock of at least 60 pounds per acre, and at least 12 trout that are 14 inches or longer per acre on a sustained basis. River segments designated as Gold Medal Waters must be a minimum of 2 miles in length, and lakes must be a minimum of 50 acres.

The following lakes and streams in Colorado offer the greatest potential for trophy trout fishing!


ANIMAS RIVER: From Lightner Creek to Rivera Crossing bridge.


▶ From the confluence with the Lake Fork of the Arkansas, near Leadville, downstream to Parkdale at the U.S. 50 bridge crossing above the Royal Gorge.

▶ From the U.S. 24 river overpass downstream to the lower boundary of the Hayden Ranch, as posted.

▶ From the stockyard bridge (Chaffee CR 102) below Salida downstream 7.5 miles to the confluence with Badger Creek.

BLUE RIVER: From Dillon Reservoir dam to Hamilton Creek Road bridge; also from Green Mountain Reservoir dam to Colorado River.

COLORADO RIVER: From Fraser River to Troublesome Creek, and from Canyon Creek (Grand Co.) to Rock Creek.

FRYINGPAN RIVER: From Ruedi Reservoir dam to the Roaring Fork River.

GORE CREEK: From Red Sandstone Creek to Eagle River.


▶ From Almont to the U.S. 50 bridge.

▶ From 200 yards downstream of Crystal Reservoir dam to the North Fork of the Gunnison.

NORTH PLATTE RIVER: From south boundary of Routt National Forest to Wyoming (Northgate Canyon).

RIO GRANDE: From U.S. 149 bridge at South Fork downstream to Rio Grande canal diversion structure.

ROARING FORK RIVER: From the Fryingpan River to the Colorado River.


▶ From the confluence of the middle and south forks to Spinney Mountain Reservoir inlet.

▶ From Spinney Mountain Reservoir outlet to Eleven Mile Reservoir inlet.

▶ From Cheesman Reservoir dam to the south boundary of the Wigwam Club property.

▶ From the north boundary of Wigwam Club property to Scraggy View picnic ground.

▶ Middle fork, from the U.S. 9 bridge to the south fork confluence.







CPW is responsible for the preservation and protection of native and nonnative wild trout populations. Most mountain streams and some high lakes in Colorado support populations of wild trout.

These resources are important to the integrity of Colorado’s trout fisheries; as an indicator of properly functioning aquatic ecosystems; and for their intrinsic value to those seeking a unique, aesthetic and significant fishery resource.

To assure the continuation and availability of wild self-sustaining trout populations, the Parks and Wildlife Commission has established specific management guidelines for those aquatic habitats which support all life stages of trout. These waters are to be managed to the extent possible to maintain these wild trout populations.




Colorado Parks and Wildlife is the state agency responsible for fisheries management of public waters in Colorado. The primary tool that guides fish management is the lake and stream survey. These surveys periodically monitor fish populations.

During the process, fish are collected using a variety of gear and the necessary biological data is recorded. This gauges the entire fish community rather than a single species.

The collected data is used to track fish population trends, evaluate the effectiveness of management actions such as stocking and regulations, and establish realistic management goals for a given lake or stream. The fisheries section of CPW conducts hundreds of lake and stream surveys each year.

High-priority and brood waters such as Chatfield, Pueblo and Horsetooth reservoirs and the Gunnison River are surveyed annually. Smaller, more remote, or lightly used lakes or streams may only be surveyed once every 5–10 years.

Most of the survey fieldwork takes place from early June through late September; however, many areas also conduct more specialized sampling beginning right after ice-out and again in the fall prior to freeze-up.




arctic char


Dillon Res., Summit7-7.637.5Pete McDonnell
bass, hybrid striped (wiper)2004Pueblo Res., Pueblo26-15.037.5Kevin Treanor
bass, largemouth1997Echo Canyon Res., Archuleta11-6.022.5Jarrett Edwards
bass, rock1979Ramah Res., El Paso1-1.310.5Timothy Fisk
bass, smallmouth2011Aurora Res., Arapahoe6-11.021.5Raymond Ong
bass, spotted2005Valco Ponds, Pueblo4-7.917.75Michael Hardin
bass, striped2017Arkansas River, Bent29-5.039Harvey Shade
bass, white1963Blue Lake, Bent/Kiowa4-7.018Pedro Martinez
carp, common2001Glenmere Park, Weld35-5.038.75Adam Wickam
carp, grass2013Cottonwood Park Lake, Jefferson57-13.047Brian Husmann
catfish, black bullhead1993Farm Pond, Delta5-1.023Uldene Kuretich
catfish, blue2019Pueblo Res., Pueblo29-2.11238.625Randy Stillwell
catfish, channel2010Aurora Res., Arapahoe43-10.140.5Jessica Walton
catfish, flathead2017Pueblo Res., Pueblo30-9.638.75Michael Flock
crappie, black2017Frank State Wildlife Area3-7.817.5Fesstus Stalder
crappie, white1975Northglenn Lake, Adams4-3.817DaryelThompson
eel, American1996Flagler Res., Kit Carson3-1.035.25Juergen Kernal
freshwater drum1978Lonetree Res., Larimer17-3.031Faye Lancamp
grayling2002Lower Big Creek Lake, Jackson1-10.017.25Derik Drinnen
mountain whitefish1982Roaring Fork River, Eagle5-2.018.75Richard Sals
northern pike2006Stagecoach Res., Routt30-11.046.5Tim Bone
perch, Sacramento1974Banner Lakes, Weld1-14.013.25Dana Wilfong
perch, yellow2007Seaman Res., Larimer2-9.613.75Justin Allbrandt
salmon, chinook1989Williams Fork Res., Grand11-0.028.5Helen Eaton
salmon, kokanee (angling)1986Spinney Mountain Res., Park6-13.027.5Will Arduino
salmon, kokanee (snagging)2002Blue Mesa Res., Gunnison7-5.027Lee Cox
sauger2011Horseshoe Res., Heurfano3-6.721.5Jef f Riddle
saugeye2001John Martin Res., Bent10-14.028.5Rocklyn Beise
splake1976Island Lake, Delta18-15.032Robin Perkins
sucker, white2011Aurora Res., Arapahoe5-6.723.5Jay Grupp
sunfish, bluegill2019Totten Res., Montezuma2-9.512.75Gregory Wallace
sunfish, green2001Gravel pit, Larimer1-5.011.5Joshua Robinson
& 1997Big Thompson Pond, Weld1-5.011.25Justin Evans
sunfish, hybrid1986Gravel pit, Larimer1-8.510.75Jef f Robinson
sunfish, redear2022

Stalker Lake, Yuma



Parker Erker

tench1998Home Lake, Rio Grande5-6.920Craig Curtis
tiger muskie1994Quincy Res., Arapahoe40-2.053Jason Potter
trout, brook2022Waterdog Lake, Hinsdale8-8.926.25Matt Smiley
trout, brown1988Roaring Judy Ponds, Gunnison30-8.036Alan Schneider
trout, cutbow2007Antero Res., Park18-8.028.5Frank Stack
trout, golden1979Kelly Lake, Jackson3-12.022.5Donald O’Leary
trout, lake2007Blue Mesa Res., Gunnison50-5.644.25Donald Walker
trout, native cutthroat1964Twin Lakes, Lake16-0.0n/aGeorge Hranchak
trout, rainbow2003Morrow Point Res., Gunnison19-9.634Lee Cox
trout, Snake River cutthroat2005Blue River, Summit17-2.633Rob Peckham
trout, tiger2017Upper Dome Lake, Gunnison8-3.727.5Anthony Janssen
walleye1997Standley Lake, Jefferson18-12.634Scott Regan


CPW recognizes licensed anglers who catch exceptionally large fish through three separate programs: Records by Weight, Records by Length (release only) and Master Angler. Learn more at: cpw.


State Records by Weight is Colorado's original and oldest fishing recognition program. Fish records are tracked by weight in 49 different species categories (see table at left). If an angler catches a large fish that they believe may have broken the weight record in its species, there are a series of steps that must be taken to have the fish certified as a new state record:

■ Potential record holders must have a valid Colorado fishing license or be under the age of 18.

■ The catch must be made in Colorado in compliance with all state fishing rules and regulations.

■ The fish in question must be weighed on a statecertified scale (pounds and ounces). State-certified scales are available at the four CPW regional offices: NE, NW, SE, SW.

■ The fish, not frozen, gutted or altered in any way, must be examined, identified and the application signed by a CPW employee before an application is submitted. The employee will fill out and return the application form, picture of fish on scale showing weight, weight receipt of fish when possible and picture of fish on a lengthmeasuring device to the Assistant Chief of Hatcheries in Denver.

■ Verified state record applicants will receive a lapel pin.

■ Applications can be sent to: Record Fish Program, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Attn: Assistant Chief of Hatcheries, 6060 Broadway, Denver CO 80216.

■ See records and more information on qualifying:


Fish must be hooked, played and landed on sport tackle by the entrant. (Snagged fish are not eligible.) Only fish caught in Colorado are eligible for entry and must be submitted within 60 days of catch, and all state fishing regulations must be followed.

▶ To accurately measure a fish for a length record:

■ You MUST place the fish directly on the measuring device (ruler, tape measure, etc.). As pictured below, the measuring device shall be behind or under the fish and not following the curvature of the fish.

■ You MUST align the fish at a clearly marked area of the measuring device. In the image below, the 1-inch mark is used to clearly and accurately indicate the starting point for measurement.

■ You MUST place fish on its side with the jaw closed.

■ You MUST squeeze the tail fin together to obtain the maximum overall length.

■ You MUST measure a straight line from the tip of the snout to the extreme tip of the tail fin.

How To Measure Your Catch


Arctic char no verified record 18
bass, hybrid striped (wiper) no verified record 25
bass, largemouth2022Jayhawker Pond #1, Larimer1821.5Benjamin Nira
bass, rock no verified record 10
bass, smallmouth2022Black Rock Lake, Arapahoe1720Howard Huntington
bass, spotted no verified record 18
bass, striped no verified record 28
bass, white no verified record 17
carp, common 2022Chatfield Res., Douglas & Jefferson3034Adrian Hurrell
carp, grass 2022Pomona Lake #2, Jefferson 3035Daniel J. Leonardo II
catfish, black bullhead 2022James M. Robb Colo. River State Park (Colo. River Section), Mesa1414.19Marc Melnick
catfish, brown bullhead no verified record 14
catfish, blue no verified record 30
catfish, channel2021Pueblo Reservoir, Pueblo3039.5Colten Smith
catfish, flathead no verified record 30
crappie, black no verified record 14
crappie, white2022Pueblo Reservoir, Pueblo1414.25Mike Anderson
freshwater drum no verified record 20
grayling2022Pearl Lake, Routt1515.75Brianna Bowen
mountain whitefish2022Yampa River, Moffat1516.5Will Firestone
northern pike2021Banner Lake #5, Weld3638.5Howard Huntington
perch, Sacramento no verified record 12
perch, yellow2022Trinidad Res., Las Animas1213.63Jose Mares Jr.
salmon, chinook no verified record 28
salmon, kokanee (angling) no verified record 20
sauger no verified record 16
saugeye no verified record 26
splake no verified record 20
sucker, white no verified record 22
sucker, longnose no verified record 18
sunfish, bluegill no verified record 10
sunfish, green2022Private farm pond, Mesa1010.25Andrew Potter
sunfish, hybrid2021Juniata Reservoir, Mesa1010.88Tristan Francis
sunfish, pumpkinseed no verified record 8
sunfish, redear no verified record 12
tench no verified record 18
tiger muskie no verified record 40
trout, brook2021Antero Reservoir, Park1617Kyle Schelhaas
trout, brown no verified record 22
trout, cutbow2022Blue River, Grand2225Zach Langer
trout, golden no verified record 16
trout, lake no verified record 32
trout, native cutthroat no verified record 20
trout, rainbow2022Blue River, Grand2429.75Zach Langer
trout, Snake River cutthroat no verified record 20
trout, tiger2022S. Platte River, Jefferson1820.25Kolton Paulson
walleye2022Trinidad Res., Las Animas2630Scott Parton


State Records by Length recognizes the longest fish of a particular species that is caught and released by an angler, anywhere throughout Colorado. Records are by length (inches) for this program, and the angler will fill out and return an application form. Applications can be sent to: Record Fish Program, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Attn: Assistant Chief of Hatcheries, 6060 Broadway, Denver CO 80216.

Prior to Jan. 2020, the fish that were considered for the Records by Length program came through our Master Angler program (see below). The Master Angler program did not have enough length verification requirements to verify the size of the fish before it was released. Because of this, the validity of some catches was brought into question.

Since Jan. 2020, our Records by Length program has been a stand-alone program where specific steps must be followed for record submission and acceptance. Unlike the Records by Weight program, these fish MUST BE RELEASED in order to qualify. Only submissions showing properly measured fish will be accepted. See "Measure Your Catch" on the previous page of this brochure. Find more information on qualifying lengths and the submission process online:


The Master Angler Program was designed to recognize anglers for success in their sport, as well as to promote the conservation of fishery resources and quality fishing by encouraging the careful release of trophy-sized popular sport species.

Master Angler awards are based on fish length rather than weight; this allows anglers to measure fish and return them to the water alive if they choose to do so.

There are 46 categories of species recognized in this program, and there can be more than one Master Angler award given in each category every year. See award lengths table below. Anglers who catch a qualifying-length fish will get a Master Angler certificate and patch: only one patch per angler per year. For more information on the program, including application rules, and to see the Heritage Master Angler Lengths table online, go to:


arctic char18
bass, hybrid striped (wiper)25
bass, largemouth18
bass, rock10
bass, smallmouth17
bass, spotted18
bass, striped28
bass, white17
carp, common30
carp, grass30
catfish, black bullhead14
catfish, brown bullhead14
catfish, blue30
catfish, channel30
catfish, flathead30
crappie, black14
crappie, white14
freshwater drum20
mountain whitefish15
northern pike36
perch, Sacramento12
perch, yellow12
salmon, Chinook28
salmon, kokanee (angling)20
sucker, white22
sucker, longnose18
sunfish, bluegill10
sunfish, green10
sunfish, hybrid10
sunfish, redear12
tiger muskie40
trout, brook16
trout, brown22
trout, cutbow22
trout, golden16
trout, lake32
trout, native cutthroat20
trout, rainbow24
trout, Snake River cutthroat20
trout, tiger18



Aquatic nuisance species (ANS) are a significant and rapidly growing threat to Colorado’s fisheries and water supplies. ANS are invasive animals, plants and diseases that are not native to our rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands. Once introduced, most ANS cannot be eradicated and cost millions to manage. Preventing the introduction and spread of ANS is critical to maintaining our fisheries.

ANS STAMP: required for motorboats and sailboats

To help CPW detect, prevent and manage aquatic nuisance species in Colorado's waters, and to protect human health, safety and welfare from aquatic nuisance species, each motorboat or sailboat must now have an ANS stamp before launching in Colorado waters. Boat owners are required to purchase the ANS Stamp, and boat operators must retain proof of purchase (an electronic or printed receipt) on their person, motorboat or sailboat when operating the vehicle.

RESIDENTS: Boaters registering in Colorado will purchase the ANS Stamp at the time of registration, renewal online, or at any CPW office or state park. Residents with motorboats or sailboats documented by the U.S. Coast Guard or otherwise exempt from in-state registration can purchase the ANS stamp online at cpw. (click "Buy and Apply"), or in person at any CPW office, state park or sales agent.

NONRESIDENTS: Nonresidents can purchase the ANS stamp online at (click "Buy and Apply"), or in person at any CPW office, state park or sales agent.

Zebra mussels

Threats to Colorado’s aquatic ecosystem and fisheries include zebra and quagga mussels, New Zealand mudsnails, whirling disease, viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) and Eurasian watermilfoil. Help CPW combat these invasive species and prevent new ANS from entering our state by following the guidelines outlined below:

1. It is the responsibility of the vessel or other floating device operator to clean, drain water from all compartments and motors/engines between launches, and dry the vessel or other floating device in between launches.

2. Upon removal of a vessel or other floating device from waters of the state, and before leaving the boat launch or parking area, the operator is required to remove aquatic plants and water drain plug(s). It is prohibited to transport a vessel or other floating device over land with aquatic plants or water drain plugs in place.

3. Remove all plants, animals or mud and thoroughly wash boats, trailers, waders and equipment that have come in contact with the water before leaving a lake or stream.

4. Drain any space or item that could hold water, including live wells, bait containers, bilge, ballast tanks, storage areas, engine cooling systems or any other place on boats or equipment that might hold water.

5. Allow boats, engines, boots and gear to dry completely before moving to other waters.

6. If draining and drying are not possible, wash boats, trailers and equipment carefully and completely with hot water (120–140 degrees F).

7. Stop by the CPW office in Denver (6060 Broadway, Denver, CO 80216) Monday–Friday for a free professional ANS inspection or decontamination. Check the CPW website for all 73 statewide inspection station hours of operation.

8. Don’t move or transport fish between water bodies. This can spread diseases and nuisance species.

9. Don’t dispose of fish entrails or other byproducts into any body of water.




ANS can hitchhike on boats and gear, being introduced into new waters accidentally. Inspect your boat between uses and make sure it is clean, drained and dry. Colorado has a mandatory boat-inspection program. Your boat must be inspected if:

1. The boat has been in any water that is positive or suspect for ANS.

2. The boat has been in any water body outside of Colorado.

3. The boat will enter any water where inspections are required. There are 73 inspection and decontamination stations in Colorado. Check the CPW website or call ahead for important details on hours of operation, ramp closures, fees and reservoir-specific boating policies:


Disinfect waders or boots between uses. Scrub the bottom of waders with a wire brush and remove all mud, plants and organic materials. Following all label precautions, perform one of the following before going into the next body of water:

■ OPTION 1: Submerge waders and gear in a tub filled with mixture of 6 ounces of a quaternary ammonium-based institutional cleaner (such as Super HDQ Neutral) per gallon of water for at least 10 minutes, scrubbing debris from gear and visually inspecting the gear for mud, plants or snails before rinsing. Rinse with water from ANS-free source. Dispose of chemicals properly, away from the water body.

■ OPTION 2: Spray or soak gear with water hotter than 140 degrees F for at least 10 min.

■ OPTION 3: Dry waders and equipment completely for at least 10 days in between uses.

■ OPTION 4: Place waders and boots in a freezer overnight between uses.

REPORT IT If you find what you think is an invasive species on your boat or in a body of water, report it to CPW by emailing: [email protected], or call: 303-291-7295



Crayfish are not native to parts of Colorado, yet they have become established in many waters throughout the state. Rusty crayfish endanger aquatic native species and sportfish by:

PREYING on all life stages of fish, amphibians and invertebrates and other species of crayfish.

COMPETING aggressively for habitat and food.

DESTROYING productive habitat in our streams, ponds and lakes.


Crayfish can be taken for personal consumption, but care should be taken with their use and disposal.

■ Even though crayfish can be taken live east of the Continental Divide, it is recommended that tails of all crayfish be removed immediately and packed in ice for transport.

■ Do not throw unused bait crayfish, or bait of any kind, back in the water alive.



All crayfish caught west of the Continental Divide must be immediately killed (by removing the head from the thorax) and taken into possession, or immediately returned to the water from which they were taken.


Rusty crayfish have been discovered at Sanchez Reservoir State Wildlife Area (SWA) in Costilla Co. To prevent their spread within and beyond this area, a CPW order prevents the transport of any live crayfish from Sanchez Reservoir SWA.



ARTIFICIAL FLIES AND LURES means devices made entirely of, or a combination of, natural or synthetic nonedible, nonscented materials (regardless if the scent is added in the manufacturing process or applied afterward), or materials such as wood, plastic, silicone, rubber, epoxy, glass, hair, metal, feathers or fiber, designed to attract fish. This does not include anything defined as bait below.

BAIT means any hand-moldable material designed to attract fish by the sense of taste or smell; those devices to which scents or smell attractants have been added or externally applied (regardless if the scent is added in the manufacturing process or applied afterward); scented manufactured fish eggs and traditional organic baits, including but not limited to worms, grubs, crickets, leeches, dough baits or stink baits, insects, crayfish, human food, fish, fish parts or fish eggs.

CHUMMING is placing fish, parts of fish or other feeding material in the waters for the purpose of attracting fish to a particular area in order that they might be taken. This does not include fishing with baited hooks or live traps.

COMMON HOOK is any hook or multiple hooks having a common shank. All hooks attached to a manufactured artificial lure shall be considered a common hook.

FISHING is defined as efforts to take fish, amphibians or crustaceans, including by hook and line, handline, trot-line, jug, seine, net, underwater spearfishing, archery, snagging or gigging.

FLOAT TUBE means a floating device which suspends a single occupant in the water from the seat down and is not propelled by oars, paddles or motors.

GAME FISH means all species of fish except unregulated species, prohibited nongame, endangered and threatened species, which currently exist or may be introduced into the state and which are classified as game fish by the Parks and Wildlife Commission. This includes, but is not limited to brown, brook, cutthroat, golden, lake (Mackinaw), and rainbow trout; cutbow (rainbow/cutthroat hybrids), splake (lake trout/brook trout hybrids) and tiger trout (brown/brook trout hybrids); Arctic char; grayling; kokanee salmon; whitefish; sculpin; smallmouth, largemouth, spotted, striped and white bass; wiper (striped bass/white bass hybrids); carp; bullhead, blue, channel and flathead catfish; black and white crappie; drum; northern pike; tiger muskie; Sacramento and yellow perch; sauger; saugeye (walleye/sauger hybrids); speckled dace; rainbow smelt; tench; walleye; bluegill; bluegill hybrids (bluegill/green sunfish); green, redear and pumpkinseed sunfish; gizzard shad; longnose and white suckers; and minnows.

GIG is a barbed fork with one or more tines attached to a handle.

JUGS means floats to which are attached a line and common hook.

MINNOW means all members of the families of fish classified Cyprinidae (which includes, but is not limited to: carp, chub, dace, fathead minnow, shiner, stoneroller and tench), Cyprinodontidae (including but not limited to: killifish) and Clupeidae (gizzard shad), except those designated as nongame, threatened or endangered, or those designated as nonregulated. See pages 8–9, and Chapters 10 and 11 of CPW regulations online.

NATURAL STREAM is one where water naturally flows regularly or intermittently for at least part of the year. Man-made ditches or other channels are not considered natural streams.

NET means seine, dip net, gill net, cast net, trap net, hoop net or similar devices used to take or as an aid in taking fish, amphibians or crustaceans.

PERSONALLY ATTENDED LINE means a rod and line, hand line or tip-up that is used for fishing and which is under the personal control of a person who is in proximity to it.

SEINING means the capture of live fish with the use of a net that hangs vertically in the water and is used to enclose fish when its ends are pulled together, or are drawn ashore.

SIZE OR LENGTH means the total length of a fish with head and tail attached measured from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail.

SLINGBOW means a hand-held device, not drawn or held mechanically, with the arms or attachment points to which an elastic band is attached for propelling an arrow. Also includes string releases or mechanical releases which are hand-drawn and handheld, with no other attachment or connection to the slingbow other than to the bowstring. Wrist-brace attachments are considered normal components of a slingbow.

■ SNAGGING is the taking of fish by snatching with hooks, gang hooks, artificial flies or lures, or similar devices where the fish is hooked in a part of the body other than the mouth.

TROT-LINE is a single, anchored line with a float at each end from which droplines are attached.



FISHING REPORT & STOCKING REPORT Fishing and stocking reports are generated weekly April 1– Oct. 31, and twice a month Nov. 1–March 31. Sign up to receive the reports:




FISHING ATLAS The interactive Colorado Fishing Atlas allows you to search for fishing opportunities by species, specific interest or proximity to your home or destination:

FISHING MAPS Find all of the color-coded fishing regulation maps in this brochure (pages 11−39) online:

FISHING NEWS & EVENTS Check out upcoming fishing tournaments, such as Debunk the Winter Funk at Stagecoach State Park and the Kokanee Giveaway.

CATCH OF THE WEEK Send us your photo for a chance to be featured online: [email protected]

FISHERY MANAGEMENT & SURVEYS OF COLORADO'S WATERS CPW is the lead agency responsible for fisheries management of public waters in the state of Colorado. The primary tool that guides fish management is the lake and stream survey; find the PDF online.



NOTE: It is illegal to go onto private land to fish without permission, including touching any part of private land by person or watercraft. Private land is not required to be posted or fenced. Trespassers may be suspended for up to 5 years.


1. ONE PERSONALLY ATTENDED LINE: Each line shall have only three common hooks attached.


a. Permitted only on these reservoirs (as listed in this brochure): Adobe Creek, Bonny, Henry, Horse Creek, John Martin, Meredith, Navajo, Nee Gronda, Nee Noshe, Nee So Pah, Queens (North and South), Thurston and Two Buttes.

b. No one may use more than one trot-line.

c. Must be anchored, marked at each end by floats, be no longer than 150 feet with no more than 25 droplines, and shall be weighted to place the line at least 3 feet under water.

d. Only three barbed hooks allowed on a common hook on each dropline.

e. Must be tagged with the user’s CID number and date set or user’s name when CID is unavailable.

f. All trot-lines shall be personally checked at least once every 24-hour period.


a. Permitted only on these reservoirs (as listed in this brochure): Adobe Creek, Bonny, Henry, Horse Creek, John Martin, Meredith, Nee Gronda, Nee Noshe, Nee So Pah, Queens (North and South), Thurston and Two Buttes.

b. Only 10 jugs are allowed for each license holder, each with only one single line and one common hook.

c. Must be tagged with the user’s CID number or name when CID is unavailable.

d. Must be personally checked at least once an hour.


Bow anglers are advised to reference the current State Recreation Lands brochure for more regulations on waters that allow archery fishing.

a. Underwater spearfishing, archery, slingbows and gigs may be used statewide for the taking of carp and northern pike, except as prohibited by these regulations or land management agencies. East of the Continental Divide, gizzard shad and white or longnose suckers may also be taken, unless otherwise prohibited in "Special Regulations: Fishing Waters," pages 11–39. Other fish may be taken when authorized for specific waters in the regulation section.

b. Archery and slingbows may be used to take kokanee if a water is otherwise open to snagging. In such cases, the following applies:

1. Bows must have reel, fishing line and arrow attached to bow.

2. Bows must have arrow safety-slide mechanism that keeps fishing line in front of the arrow at all times.

c. Additional restrictions apply to underwater spearfishing:

1. CO2 guns or cartridge-powered spears are prohibited.

2. Guns must be loaded and unloaded while the gun is submerged.

3. Divers must stay within a radius of 100 feet of a float bearing the National Divers’ Symbol.

4. Spears must be attached by a safety line.

d. Archery, slingbows and gigs are allowed for taking bullfrogs.

5. SNAGGING is permitted for taking kokanee salmon only, on specific waters listed in this brochure. Other species snagged must be returned to the water immediately.

6. SEINES AND CAST-NET See "Use and Collection of Bait Fish"

a. Seines are allowed only for bait fish, gilled form of aquatic tiger salamander larvae and crayfish; or if authorized for emergency salvage.

b. Seines must be made of a quarter-inch or less nonmetallic square mesh.

c. Seines cannot exceed 20 feet long and 4 feet in depth.

7. BY HAND OR WITH DIP NETS See 'Use and Collection of Bait Fish"

a. Allowed for bullfrogs, crayfish and the gilled form of aquatic tiger salamander larvae.

b. Fish may be taken by these means or others approved by CPW for emergency salvage.

c. Hand-held dip nets may be used for taking bait fish according to restrictions.

8. LIVETRAPS See "Use and Collection of Bait Fish," below and next page. Cage or box traps, including set pots, shall be used only for the taking of crayfish, snapping turtles and fish captured as bait fish or for personal consumption. Traps must be tagged with the user’s CID number or name when CID is unavailable.

9. ARTIFICIAL LIGHT may be used as a fishing aid.

10. BAIT may be used where permitted as fishing aid, except by chumming.

NOTE: It is illegal to go onto private land to fish without permission, including touching any part of private land by person or watercraft. Private land is not required to be posted or fenced. Trespassers may be suspended for up to 5 years.



If caught, these species must be returned to the water immediately.


Arkansas darter, bluehead sucker, bonytail chub, boreal toad, brassy minnow, Colorado pikeminnow, common shiner, flannelmouth sucker, flathead chub, greenback cutthroat trout, humpback chub, Iowa darter, lake chub, mollusks, mountain sucker, northern leopard frog, northern redbelly dace, plains leopard frog, plains minnow, plains topminnow, plains orangethroat darter, razorback sucker, Rio Grande chub, Rio Grande sucker, river shiner, roundtail chub, southern redbelly dace, stonecat, suckermouth minnow, wood frog and Woodhouse's toad.

1. CATCH AND RELEASE: Any fish released upon catch must be released alive and into the same body of water from which it was taken.

2. PROHIBITED FISHING METHODS INCLUDE: Chumming, using toxicants or poisons, stupefying substances, electrofishing.


a. AMPHIBIANS: Bullfrogs; aquatic gilled forms of tiger salamanders; any amphibians allowed under Chapter W-10 regulations; any amphibian designated as unregulated wildlife under Chapter W-11 regulations:

b. CRUSTACEANS: The following crustaceans may be possessed east of the Continental Divide: virile crayfish, waternymph crayfish, calico crayfish, ringed crayfish and Southern Plains crayfish. The following crustaceans may be possessed on either side of the Continental Divide: freshwater shrimp, commercially available brine shrimp and commercially available krill. All other species are not allowed to be possessed in Colorado. See "h. Crustaceans" on next page.

c. FISH: Brown, brook, cutthroat, golden, lake and rainbow trout, and their hybrids; arctic char; grayling; kokanee salmon; whitefish; sculpin; smallmouth, largemouth, spotted, striped and white bass; wipers; common carp; triploid grass carp; bullhead, blue, channel and flathead catfish; black and white crappie; drum; northern pike; tiger muskie; Sacramento and yellow perch, and their hybrids; sauger and saugeye; speckled dace; rainbow smelt; tench; walleye; bluegill and bluegill hybrids; green, redear and pumpkin-seed sunfish; gizzard shad, longnose and white suckers; fathead minnow; families of fish classified Cyprinidae except for bighead carp, black carp and silver carp; any fish designated as unregulated wildlife under regulations. All other species are not allowed to be possessed in Colorado.


a. Except as otherwise noted in this brochure, in waters east of the Conti- nental Divide and below 7,000 feet elevation, live fish collected for use as bait may only be used in the same body of water from which they were collected. In addition, collection and use is allowed in any man-made ditches and canals within one-half of a mile of the adjoining lake or reservoir. Use of any baitfish collected in those ditches and canals is restricted to only the water from which it was collected and the adjoining lake or reservoir. Baitfish collected under this provision may not be otherwise transported or stored for later use.

b. The collection, use or possession of live fish for use as bait is prohibited in all waters east of the Continental Divide above 7,000 feet elevation and all waters west of the Continental Divide, except in Navajo Reservoir; collection, use or possession of live fish for bait is also prohibited in the Arkansas River above Parkdale (in Fremont and Chaffee counties) and in Watson Lake in Larimer Co.

c. In Baca, Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Otero and Prowers counties, live fish collected for personal use as bait may be transported, stored or used anywhere within these counties. Transportation to, or use of, any such baitfish in any other Co. is prohibited.

d. The only fish allowed to be taken for commercial use are minnows, gizzard shad, white and longnose suckers and carp. All live aquatic organisms from a commercial source and transported by anglers must at all times be accompanied by a receipt from the source. It is illegal to import any live native or non-native aquatic wildlife into Colorado without authorization from CPW or as stated in regulations.

e. The only species allowed to be taken and used for personal use as bait (either alive or dead) by fishing, seining, netting, trapping or dipping are minnows, bluegill, hybrid bluegill, carp, sunfish, gizzard shad, sculpin, white and longnose suckers, yellow perch and rainbow smelt. Statewide bag limits apply to sunfish, bluegill, hybrid bluegills and yellow perch.

f. The seining, netting, trapping and dipping of fish is prohibited statewide in all natural streams, springs, all waters in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Gilpin, Elbert, Jefferson and Park counties, and all public standing waters in Rio Grande, Saguache, Conejos, Costilla, Alamosa, Mineral and Hinsdale counties in the Rio Grande drainage. This does not apply to fish handled or produced at commercially licensed aquaculture facilities.

g. BULLFROGS AND SALAMANDERS: Bullfrogs and the aquatic gilled form of the tiger salamander for private and commercial use are permitted. Statewide bag limits apply. Bullfrogs can be taken by fishing, archery, hand, gigs and nets. Artificial light is allowed. Salamander larvae can be taken by fishing, hand, traps, seines or nets.

h. CRUSTACEANS: Take methods include by hand, baited lines, traps, pots, nets or seines for food or bait. Taking crustaceans, crayfish, with a commercial fishing license is allowed with the following restrictions: The minimum size is 3 inches for commercial food (measured from the tip of the acumen (bony spike between the eye) to the telson (last bony plate in the tail)); crayfish with eggs attached must be returned to the water immediately; all set pots and traps must be labeled with the user’s CID or user’s name if a CID is unavailable.

Only the following species are allowed to be possessed east of the Continental Divide: virile crayfish, waternymph crayfish, calico crayfish, ringed crayfish and Southern Plains crayfish. Only the following crustaceans may be possessed on either side of the Continental Divide: freshwater shrimp, commercially available brine shrimp and commercially available krill. All other species are not allowed to be possessed in Colorado.

In all waters west of the Continental Divide and from Sanchez Reservoir SWA, all crayfish must be returned to the water of origin immediately or killed by separating the abdomen from the cephalothorax (tail from body) and taken into possession immediately upon catch.

i. MOLLUSKS: Taking mollusks is prohibited.

5. ICE FISHING: The following rules apply to waters open for ice fishing:

a. Ice-fishing holes cannot exceed 10 inches in diameter, or 10 inches on any side.

b. All fires on the ice must be enclosed in a container.

c. No litter allowed on the ice.

d. Portable ice-fishing shelters (where permitted) must be removed at the end of the day.

e. Permanent ice-fishing shelters (where permitted) must display the name and CID number of the owner or user on the outside of the shelter facing the shore. Writing must be in legible, contrasting color letters at least 2 inches high.

6. TAGGING FISH & RELEASING TAGGED FISH: It is illegal to tag or mark a fish prior to releasing it. It is also illegal to release tagged or marked fish, except for approved contests, into public waters. Tagged or marked fish can be released in public waters for scientific research with written application and approval by CPW at least 30 days before release.

7. DONATING FISH: You can donate edible parts of fish to like-license holders anywhere or to anyone at the recipient’s home. Donor and recipient subject to bag and possession limits. A “like-license” is a Colorado fishing license.

8. TRANSPORTING, EXPORTING FISH: The license holder must accompany any species in this brochure, or parts of game fish, that are transported within or exported from Colorado. Wildlife shipped by common carrier must be accompanied by license or photocopy of license and donation certificate, if needed.

9. ILLEGAL TAKE AND TRANSFER OF FISH: Only people designated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may take fish, amphibians, mollusks or crustaceans within the boundaries of any Federal fish hatchery or rearing unit. Molesting, disturbing or damaging gill nets, traps, seines or trot-lines set by CPW is prohibited.

10. EMERGENCY CLOSURE OF FISHING WATERS: Emergency closure of waters may be authorized for up to nine months when environmental conditions in these waters warrant and fishing could result in unacceptable levels of fish mortality. Public notice will be given if waters are closed and notice will be posted at the site. Closures may occur when any of these criteria are met:

a. Daily max. water temperature exceeds 71 degrees F.

b. Measured stream flows are 50 percent or less of the daily average flow.

c. Fungus and other visible signs of deterioration and/or stress may be present.

d. Daily minimum dissolved oxygen levels are below 6 parts per million (ppm).

e. When environmental events such as wildfires, mudslides, oil spills or similar events have occurred, resulting in the need for recovery time or remedial action for a fish population.

11. PROTECTED WATERS: Fishing may be prohibited as posted to protect: threatened or endangered species, spawning areas, waters used in CPW research projects, newly acquired access to fishing waters and the integrity of aquatic wildlife.

12. EMERGENCY PUBLIC SALVAGE: If substantial numbers of fish are in imminent danger of being lost, CPW can allow licensed anglers to take fish during daylight hours. Public notice will be given and notice will be posted at the site regarding the catch limit and approved fishing methods.

13. FISHING CONTESTS: Fishing contests cannot be advertised, promoted or conducted without CPW approval if the purpose is to take marked or tagged fish released in waters open to public fishing.

Applications and a $40 nonrefundable fee must be made 60 days before the contest. Written approval must be obtained from landowners or agencies before applying. Contests are not permitted on streams, rivers, other flowing water or Gold Medal Waters, or commercial or private lakes licensed by CPW. All standard fishing regulations apply.

Contests for tagged or marked trout will be permitted only on waters greater than 200 surface acres and managed as a catchable fishery. Public fishing areas will remain open during a contest, regardless of contest fees. Sponsors shall document the number of participants, average time spent fishing and estimated total catch by species in a written report for CPW within 20 days of the contest end.