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Fishing

Two girls seated in chairs on the Lake Mary boardwalk fishing

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge public fishing program provides a great recreational opportunity not far from the Denver metro area. The 2016 fishing season CLOSED on October 9, 2016. Click here for fishing regulations and click here for the fishing permit.

  • Fishing Lakes and Regulations

    Refuge catch-and-release fishing sign, barbless hooks only, no live bait

    Public fishing is offered as a recreational fee-based program mid-April through mid-October on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays only. The 2016 fishing season CLOSED on October 9, 2016. The funds generated are used to improve and maintain facilities associated with fishing and other Refuge programs. Fishing regulations and lake locations can be found in our Fishing Permit. Permits can also be found at the kiosk next to the fee collection box in the parking lot at the Contact Station. 

    A daily fee of $3.00 per adult, age 16 and older is required. Along with the Refuge permit you must have a state fishing license. Please come with exact change or a check made payable to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If you are interested in purchasing a Season Fishing Pass, please see the information below.  

    Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Fishing Regulations (50 CFR 32.25)
    Sport Fishing. We allow fishing at designated times and on designated areas of the refuge in accordance with State regulations subject to the following conditions:
    1. We require a valid State fishing license and valid refuge fishing permit for all anglers age 16 and older. You must obtain and display a daily refuge fishing badge while fishing.
    2. We only allow the use of rod and reel with one hook or lure per line.
    3. We only allow catch and release fishing.
    4. We only allow barbless hooks.
    5. We only allow artificial flies or lures.
    6. We prohibit the use of live bait.


    The main items of interest in the fishing permit are: (1) a $3.00 daily fee for licensed anglers 16 years of age and older; (2) fishing is only allowed on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays; and (3) no wading in Lake Ladora until after Memorial Day. This information is also posted on each kiosk near the lakes.

    The regulations are clear that “live bait” is prohibited, but there has been some confusion on this matter. “Bait” is anything designed to attract fish by the sense of taste or smell. “Live bait” is anything living, including but not limited to worms, grubs, crickets, leeches, insects, crayfish, and fish. We encourage all anglers to stick to artificial flies and lures, but we do not prohibit the use of purchased fish/animal parts or other scented bait. Digging of worm and/or pursuit of live bait is prohibited on the refuge.

  • Seasonal Fishing Pass

    Family Fishing 150x118

    We will be offering a 2017 Season Fishing Pass for $50.00. Please visit our website after January 1, 2017 for details about when the pass will be available. You must bring with you a valid state fishing license to purchase a pass. The pass cannot be transferred or prorated. Kids 15 and under are free. Please call the Visitor Center at 303-289-0930 in advance to make sure staff is available to sell the pass. The Visitor Center is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm (closed on Federal holidays). Please bring a check or exact cash, sorry we don't accept debit or credit cards.

  • Fishing Opportunities and Warm-Water Species

    Angler holding large fish

    Lake Mary is the smallest of the Refuge’s lakes at 8.4 acres and 12.4 feet at its deepest. Lake Mary is surrounded by approximately a half mile trail where you can walk along cottonwood trees, rubber rabbitbrush, white sand verbena, and towering cattails. The southern portion of the lake shore is lined with nest boxes where you might be able to catch a glimpse of a tree swallow nesting in the spring.

    Lake Mary is an excellent resource for beginning anglers. Amenities include a floating boardwalk, fishing pier, and dock. The docks are also accessible providing equal opportunity for all to participate in and benefit from fishing programs and activities on the Refuge. Fish species in Lake Mary include largemouth bass, channel catfish, white and black crappie, bluegill, and yellow perch.

    Lake Ladora, at 54.9 acres and 17.6 feet at its deepest, is a large body of water open to bank fishing. Wading with calf, hip, or chest waders is allowed after Memorial Day.

    You can hike around the lake on the 1.8 mile trail and at the mid-point and enjoy the view through the cattails from the floating boardwalk. The trail will take you through native prairie grassland and under impressive cottonwoods. As you walk along the trail you can spot showy milkweed, prickly poppy, and sand sagebrush. Fish species in Lake Ladora include northern pike and largemouth bass, and bluegill.

    You can find parking for these lakes behind the Contact Station.

  • Do Your Part

    Monofilament recycling station that holds fishing line

    Around lakes Mary and Ladora you will see Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Stations. Please dispose of your used monofilament line or any you might find and place it in the tubes at these stations. The line is recycled to make underwater fish habitat structures used throughout the country. Placing the line in the stations also prevents wildlife from becoming entangled. 

Page Photo Credits — Girls Fishing at Lake Mary - Kelsey Cable/USFWS, Refuge Fishing Regulatory Sign - Lisa Chambers/USFWS, Fishing at the Refuge - USFWS, Monofilament Station - Lisa Chambers/USFWS
Last Updated: Oct 19, 2016
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