In truth, it isn’t all that hard to run afoul of these laws and regulations, especially when you consider that the 2017 Colorado Fishing publication, put out by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, contains no less than 37 pages of fishing rules, regulations and legal definitions.
Within that 37 pages are 24 pages of “Special Regulations” that apply to specific streams and bodies of water. These special regs run the gamut from what sorts of live baits you can and can’t use in which waters, to fishing methods allowed (artificial flies and lures, for example, mandated in some streams), to the times and days when you can and can’t fish certain locales.
“Of course, all these laws and regulations are in place to protect Colorado’s amazing natural resources,” said Douglas Richards, an independent program attorney for U.S. Law Shield. “But there are so many regulations, an angler would have to have a photographic memory to keep all the possible do’s and don’ts straight. Even then, honest mistakes can and do happen.”
Among the most common violations in Colorado is fishing without a proper and valid fishing license. The basic fine is $50 fine and 10 points assessed against a person’s hunting and fishing license privileges (see explanation of these points below). By statute, a 37-percent surcharge for the Victims Witness and Protection Program is also assessed for any violation in Colorado, as well as a $2.50 DNA First Offender surcharge for each citation. Add that up, and you are dinged $70.50 for fishing without a license.
Illegal possession of a single fish is a $35 fine, plus 5 points for that fish, and $10 and an additional 1 point for each fish beyond the original one. If you accidently fish on private property without permission? That’s a $100 fine and 20 points. Most other fishing violations are $50 and 5 points, such as the use of live baits in waters where only artificial flies and lures are legal, having an unattended fishing rod, chumming, fishing with two lines without a second rod stamp, and fishing with too many lines.
Additionally, Colorado is a member state of the Interstate Wildlife Compact. There are 44 member states in the Compact, and fishing privileges suspended in Colorado could affect your ability to purchase a fishing, hunting and/or trapping license in other member compact states.
As far at those points referenced above, if you accumulate 20 or more points within any five-year period, a judge can suspend your Colorado fishing privileges for five full years. Meaning, your privileges will then probably be revoked in the other 43 states, too!
Colorado has seen many non-native fish species appear within its borders, and they are causing huge problems for native species. The non-natives are often introduced as live fish and crustaceans anglers use as bait. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has addressed this issuing many, many regulations concerning live baits.
As the 2017 Colorado fishing regulations note, “in waters east of the Continental 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.”
Live bait is illegal at elevations over above 7,000 feet in all waters east of the Continental Divide and all waters west of the Continental Divide, except in the Navajo Reservoir. Additionally, the 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 County.
Yet, in Baca, Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Otero and Prowers County, 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 county is prohibited.”
“So, if you had a handful of live minnows in your bait bucket leftover from Monday’s legal fishing, and you drive to another county or location on Tuesday, simply having those minnows in your possession could mean a substantial fine and possible loss of your fishing and hunting privileges in 43 other states,” said Richards.
Why Take A Chance?
With the Hunter Shield add-on, anglers in Colorado and all other Hunter Shield states have access to educational materials, legal updates, and events, all of these designed to keep them legal. Plus, each member receives the basic legal defense coverage that’s standard with the Hunter Shield program.
Make the decision today to become a more educated and responsible gun owner, angler, and hunter by adding Hunter Shield to your U.S. Law Shield membership.
Not a member of U.S. Law Shield? Join our family today and add Hunter Shield! — Brian McCombie, Contributor, U.S. Law Shield blog