Fishing is a great activity for all ages and a way for families and friends to spend time together outdoors.

Follow these basic steps to get started (learn more about fishing in Colorado at the Parks and Wildlife website.)

1. Pick your fishing rod and reel

A closed-face spincast rod and reel are great for learning how to fish.

2. Choose your bait

Different species of fish have different appetites. Choose your bait based on what kind of fish are in the lake and what you are trying to catch. Look at the list of waters at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website for additional bait restrictions.

  • Trout: Powerbait, flies, lures, salmon eggs, jigs, worms
  • Catfish: Stinkbait, worms
  • Bass: Jigs, worms
  • Sunfish and crappie: Jigs, worms, salmon eggs

3. Get your gear on

You need a few basic items to get started fishing.

  • Fishing line, 4- to 8-pound test
  • Bobbers
  • Hooks, #8 or #10
  • Swivels, #10
  • Sinkers, 1/8 ounce
  • Hemostats or needle-nose pliers (These help you disloge hooks and grip line while tying knots.)

4. Know your knot

There are lots of fishing knots. The Improved Clinch Knot is a good, basic knot to get you started.

  • Thread the line through the eye of the hook. Double back and make five or more turns around the line (looping it around).
  • Bring the end of the line back through the first loop formed behind the eye of the hook. Then go through the big loop.
  • Wet the knot and pull the tag end to tighten the coils. Slide it tight against the eye of the hook and clip the excess.

5. Pick your spot

Fishing holes are located around the state. Check out your options by going online to


Before you head out on a fishing trip in Colorado, make sure everyone in your group of legal age has a valid state fishing license.

Annual licenses are valid April 1 to March 31.

Where can I get a license?

Call: 1-800-244-5613
Stop by: CPW offices, state parks or license agents

  • A fishing license for Colorado residents costs $26 for ages 16-63; $1 ages 64 and older. A fishing and small game combo license costs $41.
  • A fishing license for visitors to Colorado age 16 or older costs $56 a year or $21 for five days.
  • There is no cost for youths age 15 or younger, regardless of residency, however a second-rod charge still applies.
  • Cost of a second-rod stamp is $5, regardless of residency.
  • Cost of a one-day fishing license is $9; you can add another one-day permit for $5. In addition, there is not Habitat Stamp fee for the first two one-day permits purchased; the fee is assesseed when a third one-day license is purchased.

(Prices include a 25-cent fee for search and rescue and a 75-cent surcharge for the Wildlife Management Education Fund.)

What do I need to buy a fishing license?

  • Current and valid photo ID.
  • For residents, proof of residency
  • Habitat Stamp
  • A Social Security number (ages 16 and older; age 12 for a second-rod stamp)

Habitat Stamp

A habitat stamp is required for adults ages 18-64. The cost is $10.

When can I fish?

There are some regulations but in general Colorado waters are open to taking fish, amphibians and crustaceans at any time.
Source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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