Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding anglers anxious to start their fishing season that fishing licenses for the 2012-2013 season are on sale now at license agents, Parks and Wildlife offices, online and by phone. The 2012 license season begins April 1 and runs through March 31, 2013.
The new Colorado Fishing brochure is also available where licenses are sold and online at www.flipseekpubs.com/publication/?i=99616. This year’s brochure includes a link to printable fishing maps and QR codes to access interactive information. It also provides important information on ways anglers can protect their fisheries from illicit stocking and aquatic nuisance species.
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“Colorado has some amazing fishing opportunities,” said Matt Nicholl, acting aquatic section manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “From urban bass lakes to high-mountain fly-fishing streams, there is something for everyone. But more than ever we need anglers to help us protect those fisheries for today and the future.”
As in other states, Colorado fishery managers have been forced to wage an ongoing and costly battle against the damage caused by so-called “bucket biologists,” irresponsible anglers who break the law by moving fish wherever they please. These illegal introductions have threatened sport fisheries, complicated endangered fish recovery and siphoned money away from other needed fishery management efforts.
“Some people might move their favorite species of fish because they want it closer to home or in their favorite spot,” said Bob Thompson, who heads wildlife law enforcement for the agency. “But those people are committing a crime and threatening fisheries that all anglers have paid to create and preserve.”
Fish such as smallmouth bass, walleye and northern pike have been illegally introduced in several Colorado reservoirs. These predator fish can out-compete traditional sport fish such as trout and kokanee, and ruin recreational fishing for other anglers. They also threaten populations of native fish downstream in the Colorado and San Juan rivers.
“There are many examples of fish being put in places where they don’t belong and we’re committed to stop the illegal movement of fish in this state,” Thompson said. Anyone caught illegally moving fish faces fines of up to $5,000 plus the loss of hunting and fishing privileges in Colorado and 36 other states. Those convicted could also be liable for the extremely high cost of eradication or removal of the illegally stocked fish.
In addition to information about the illegal moving of fish by unscrupulous anglers, this year’s fishing brochure also includes expanded information on ways to prevent the movement of invasive non-native species such as zebra mussels, quagga mussels and rusty crayfish.
“We are a mobile society and boats travel long distances in relatively short periods of time often bringing harmful invasive species with them,” explained Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator Elizabeth Brown. “Non-native species can be catastrophic if they hitch a ride and end up in our waters in Colorado.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife conducts mandatory boat inspections and decontaminations at 27 State Parks and 58 other locations around the state. Information about the state’s extensive boat inspection program can be found online at wildlife.state.co.us/Fishing/Pages/MandatoryBoatInspections.aspx. Resources for boaters in Colorado state park waters can be viewed at www.parks.state.co.us/Boating/NewBoatInspection/Pages/BoatInspection.aspx.
A Colorado fishing license is required for anyone age 16 and older who fishes in Colorado. An annual fishing license is $26 for Colorado residents and $56 for nonresidents. Seniors 64 and older who are residents of Colorado can purchase an annual fishing license for $1. Parks and Wildlife offers five-day and one-day fishing licenses for visiting anglers or those who are going on a shorter outing.
Colorado also asks sportsmen who purchase a fishing or hunting license to also buy a $10 Colorado Wildlife Habitat Stamp each year. Since state lawmakers approved the stamp in 2005, funds from the program have helped conserve more than 124,000 acres of important wildlife habitat and opened more than 23 miles of new fishing access for anglers.