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Colorado Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is a protected area where fly fishing activities are balanced with efforts to restore and perpetuate natural aquatic environments and life.

Populations of at least four species of trout exist in the park - brown, brook, rainbow, and cutthroat. Some suckers also inhabit the streams and lakes.

Only 51 of the 147 lakes in the Park have reproducing populations of fish. Cold water temperatures and lack of spawning habitat prevent reproduction in high altitude lakes.

Supplemental stocking is done only to restore native species to altered waters. Fly fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park at high altitudes varies in success, even from waters known to contain fish.

Restoration efforts have kept the possession limits to a minimum, and have resulted in increased trout populations in many areas within the park.
 
Licenses & Fees

To fish in Rocky Mountain National Park a valid Colorado fishing license is required for all persons 16 years of age or older. No other permit is necessary, however, special regulations exist. It is your responsibility to know and obey them.

 
Regulations on Method of Capture

Each person shall use only one hand-held rod or line. Only artificial lures or flies with one (single, double, or treble) hook with a common shank may be used. "Artificial flies or lures" means devices made entirely of, or a combination of materials such as wood, plastic, glass, hair, metal, feathers, or fiber, designed to attract fish. This does not include: (a) any hand moldable material designed to attract fish by the sense of taste or smell; (b) those devices less than one and one-half inch in length to which scents or smell attractants have been externally applied; (c) molded plastic devices less than one and one-half inch in length; (d) foods; (e) traditional organic baits such as worms, grubs, crickets, leeches, minnows, and fish eggs; and (f) manufactured baits such as imitation fish eggs, dough baits, or stink baits.
 
When in possession of any fishing equipment, the possession of bait for fishing, including worms, insects, fish eggs, minnows, or other organic matter is prohibited with the following exception: children 12 years of age or under may use worms or preserved fish eggs in open park waters. No bait is allowed in catch-and-release waters.
 
Rainbow Trout
                   Rainbow Trout

Brown Trout
   Brown Trout
 
Greenback Cutthroat Trout

                 Greenback Cutthroat Trout
Brook Trout                    
Brook Trout
 

Possession Limit

This is general information only. A complete listing of regulations is available at park visitor centers and ranger stations. Possession Limit means the numbers, sizes, or species of fish, fresh or preserved, a person may have. These provisions have parkwide application and are detailed below.
 
Maximum Daily Possession Limit: 18 Fish

Species:
 Rainbow, Brown, Colorado River cutthroat,
 Non-native cutthroat
 Possesions Limit (Daily): 2
 Length: 10" or more

Species:
 Greenback cutthroat trout
 Possesions Limit (Daily): 0 (catch-and-release)

Species:
 Brook trout
 Possesions Limit (Daily): 6 (or 8 if no other species are possessed)
 Length: any size
 Additional Brook trout bonus: 10 of 8" or less
 
Open Lakes
(Known to contain fish populations) A map of open waters is available at park visitor centers and ranger stations.

Arrowhead Lake
Black Lake
Box Lake
Caddis Lake
Fourth Lake
Haynach Lake
Jewel Lake
Lake Haiyaha
Lake Nanita (outlet closed)
Lake of Glass
Lake Verna
Little Rock Lake
Loch Vale
Lone Pine Lake
Mills Lake
Mirror Lake
Peacock Pool
Pettingell Lake
Poudre Lake
Rock Lake
Sky Pond
Solitude Lake
Spirit Lake
Sprague Lake
Ten Lakes Park Lakes
Thunder Lake
Ypsilon Lake
 *This is not a complete listing of all the fishable waters in the park.

Closed Waters
Bear Lake, inlet and outlet streams, as posted
Bench Lake and Ptarmigan Creek above War Dance Falls
Columbine Creek above 9,000 feet
Hidden Valley Beaver Ponds (closed April 1 - July 31)
Hidden Valley Creek east of the Beaver Ponds (closed April - July 31)
Hunters Creek above Wild Basin Ranger Station, as posted
Lake Nanita Outlet downstream 100 yards
South Fork Poudre River above Pingree Park
West Creek above West Creek Falls
 
Catch-and-Release Areas

Certain waters in the park with restored native fish populations are open year round during daylight hours, except as indicated. Use barbless hooks only. Any and all fish species taken must be immediately returned to the water unharmed. The only exceptions are in Hidden Valley Creek/Beaver Ponds and Ouzel Creek where the regular limit of brook trout may be kept. No bait is permitted by any age angler in catch-and-release areas.
 
The following waters are open for catch-and-release fishing:
Adams Lake**
Big Crystal Lake*
Cony Creek*
Fern Lake and Creek*
Fifth Lake**
Hidden Valley Beaver Ponds and Hidden Valley Creek (open 8/1 - 3/31)*
Lake Husted*
Lake Louise*
Lawn Lake*
Lily Lake*
Loomis Lake*
Lost Lake*
Lower Hutcheson Lake*
Mid-Hutcheson Lake*
North Fork of the Big Thompson above Lost Falls*
Odessa Lake*
Ouzel Lake and Creek*
Paradise Creek drainage**
Pear Lake and Creek*
Roaring River*
Sandbeach Lake and Creek*
Spruce Lake*
Timber Lake and Creek**
Upper Hutcheson Lake*
 
*Greenback Cutthroat Trout
 **Colorado River Cutthroat
 Please consult a ranger for more information regarding fishing in the park. Local angling shops are excellent sources of advice and recommended flies.
 
The preceding information and illustrations originally appear in the National Park Service "Fishing in Rocky Mountain National Park" brochure available at any ranger station.