How to Get a Colorado Fishing License: A Quick Guide
Apr 19, 2021 | 4 minute read
Reading Time: 4 minutes

More than 12,000 miles of streams and 2,500 lakes make The Centennial State the ideal place to wet the line. To enjoy this incredible fishery however, you’ll first need to get a Colorado fishing license.

The Colorado state flag flying with blue sky behind

In this guide, you’ll learn which fishing license is right for you, as well as how you can get your hands on one. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be one step closer to an unforgettable Colorado fishing adventure.

Quick View: Colorado Fishing Requirements

Getting a Colorado fishing license is pretty straightforward. The fishing license is valid for all the fish you can catch in the state, and it can last from one day to a whole year. In order to apply, you must also purchase a “Wildlife Habitat Stamp.” This comes automatically with most applications, so there’s no extra stress. Read on to find out what you need to do.

Who needs a Colorado fishing license?

Any angler 16 or older needs a valid license to go fishing in Colorado. Residents and non-residents of Colorado both need to have one, but the available options are different for both groups.

A resident of the state is someone who has lived in CO for more than 6 months continuously. You can prove your residency through a state-issued driver’s license, social security number, or utility or income tax bill.

How much are Colorado fishing licenses?

Depending on your age and status as a resident, there is a range of options to purchase. Some offers are available to residents only, while those of you from out-of-state can take advantage of short-term licenses that are not available to anglers from Colorado.

Senior citizens and youth residents of Colorado can enjoy significant discounts when buying a permit to fish. There’s also a lifetime Colorado fishing license for low income resident seniors.  

Resident Non-Resident
Adult Annual $36.08 $100.57
Youth Annual (16-17) $10.07 N/A
Senior Annual $10.07 N/A
Low-income Senior Lifetime $9.85 N/A
5-Day N/A $32.95
1-Day $14.23 $17.35
Additional Day $6.95 $6.95
Extra Rod $11.11 $11.11

In order to purchase any of the above licenses, you must show proof of your status and, if required, your age. Just make sure to have your social security number with you. To prove your income for the senior lifetime license, you’ll need to bring your latest tax returns or an affidavit explaining your situation.

All prices include the $1.75 charge that covers an educational fee and a search-and-rescue charge. Once per year, you will have to pay an additional $10.40 to purchase the Wildlife Habitat Stamp. Money raised through this will go toward preserving and providing sustainable wildlife-related activities.

Is anyone eligible for a free fishing license?

  • Children under the age of 16 do not have to have a license when fishing, but any adult assisting one should make sure to get theirs.
  • Residents with disabilities can apply for a lifetime free fishing license through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. You can prove your status through 7 years of disability benefit, a letter from a physician stating that you are “totally” and “permanently” disabled, or a similar document from the Department of Workers’ Compensation.
  • Military veterans who are over 60% disabled from active duty and are residents of Colorado can apply for a free fishing and hunting combo license. This includes recipients of the Purple Heart.

People eligible for a free license are also able to fish without buying the Wildlife Habitat Stamp.

Where can I buy my Colorado fishing license?

A sign on a wooden wall advertising bait and tackle for sale, with a picture of a Sunfish in the middle

It’s never been easier to get your fishing license when in Colorado. All options are open to both residents and those from out-of-state. Choose any of the following and get ready to go fishing:

  • Online. You can order your license from the comfort of your own home without even speaking to anyone. Just create an account and fill in the online form, and you’re good to go.
  • By phone at 1-800-244-5613. Speak to a trained sales representative who’ll take you through the application process step-by-step.
  • In person from a licensed retailer or CPW location. There are hundreds of official vendors all across the state, including tackle stores, hardware stores, and Walmart.

When ordering a short-term fishing license, you should be aware that you won’t get a paper copy of your license. You’ll receive a temporary authorization number (TAM), that will act as your license.

If ordering an annual license online or by phone, your license should arrive by mail within 14 days. If you want to get on the water right away, make sure you’ve got your TAM with you and you can fish until your license arrives.

Common Questions about CO Fishing Licenses

  1. Are there any free fishing days?

    Visit Colorado on the first weekend of June in any year and you’re in for a treat. The free fishing days run on the first Saturday and Sunday of June and you’ll get to go fishing without a license. Bear in mind that all other regulatory procedures, including catch limits and sizes, are still valid.

  2. When does my Colorado fishing license expire?

    Annual fishing licenses in Colorado are valid from March 1 to March 31 of the following year. You’ll need to apply for a renewal for the following year before March 31 in order to continue fishing.

    If you’ve got a short-term license, such as a 1-day, 5-day, or additional day license, it will expire at midnight on the final day from the time of purchase.

    Lifelong fishing licenses don’t expire. It’s worth checking if there are any changes to the regulations for the next fishing season, though.

  3. What happens if I lose my license?

    There’s no need to worry if you can’t find your CO fishing license. All you need to do is explain what happened and that it’s currently lost, and you’ll be eligible for a reprint. Complete an affidavit detailing how you lost your license, and head to your local license retailer to get it replaced. The cost of replacing a Colorado fishing license varies depending on the type of license.

  4. Can I use my Colorado fishing license in inter-state waters?

    Colorado hasn’t entered into any agreement with neighboring states with regard to sharing fishing licenses. If you are fishing along the borders with Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, or Nebraska, be careful not to drift into the other state, or make sure to have the correct fishing license.

You’re now ready to grab the Colorado fishing license that suits your needs. If you have any questions, we recommend reaching out to your local CPW office. If not, it’s time to find a charter near you or just grab your rod and start fishing. Tight lines!

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