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.
Greenback Cutthroat Trout
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
Rainbow, Brown, Colorado River cutthroat,
Possesions Limit (Daily): 2
Length: 10" or more
Greenback cutthroat trout
Possesions Limit (Daily): 0 (catch-and-release)
Possesions Limit (Daily): 6 (or 8 if no other species are possessed)
Length: any size
Additional Brook trout bonus: 10 of 8" or less
(Known to contain fish populations) A map of open waters is available at park visitor centers and ranger stations.
Lake Nanita (outlet closed)
Lake of Glass
Little Rock Lake
Lone Pine Lake
Ten Lakes Park Lakes
*This is not a complete listing of all the fishable waters in the park.
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
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:
Big Crystal Lake*
Fern Lake and Creek*
Hidden Valley Beaver Ponds and Hidden Valley Creek (open 8/1 - 3/31)*
Lower Hutcheson Lake*
North Fork of the Big Thompson above Lost Falls*
Ouzel Lake and Creek*
Paradise Creek drainage**
Pear Lake and Creek*
Sandbeach Lake and Creek*
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.