Catch-and-Release Fishing

Lake Mary in summer with boardwalk

The 2021 catch-and-release fishing season is CLOSED. Thank you for a great season and we hope you enjoyed fishing at the Refuge. The 2022 season opens Saturday, April 2. 

  • Fishing Regulations

    Family Fishing on Lake Mary boardwalk 150x118

    Fishing Regulations - Fishing is Closed for the Season. 2022 season opens Saturday, April 2.

    Anglers no longer need to sign and keep a Refuge permit. The season pass or fee envelope serve as payment and acknowledgement of Refuge and and fishing regulations. It is your responsibility to know the Refuge regulations and fishing regulations (see below) and click here for the Fishing Regulations brochure.

    • Lake Mary and Lake Ladora are open to catch-and-release fishing. Lower Derby is closed to fishing.
    • All anglers must use a rod and reel or fly-fishing rod.
    • Anglers must use only barbless hooks. All barbs must be clipped, filed off, or pressed flat.
    • Live bait is prohibited on all Refuge waters (i.e., worms, crayfish, etc.).
    • Anglers with physical impairments may use special casting aids and fishing devices.
    • Discard used fishing line in recycling stations at Lake Mary, Lake Ladora, or the Lake Mary Learning Center kiosks.
    • A Colorado fishing or small game combination license is required for all anglers 16 and older who are fishing.
    • All anglers are permitted to use one rod and reel or pole and line with one hook per line. A second rod and reel or pole and line with one hook per line is permitted with a Colorado issued second rod stamp.

    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, included 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 worms and/or pursuit of live bait is prohibited on the Refuge.

  • Fishing Fee Payment Stations

    Contact Station Iron Ranger 520x348

    Fee payment stations are located at Lake Mary Learning Center (formerly Contact Station), North Ladora, South Ladora, and North Havana Ponds (64th Avenue across the street from Lake Ladora). There is a $3 daily fishing fee for anglers 16 and older. Use the envelope attached to the silver collection box located next to the kiosk. Read and fill out the information on the envelope. Insert payment, then detach the fishing fee receipt as proof of payment. Place envelope in deposit slot. If paying by check make it payable to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and include your driver’s license number.

  • Season Fishing Pass

    Angler holding large pike fish 150x118

    Call the Visitor Center at 303-289-0930 to set an appointment to purchase a Refuge fishing season pass. At your appointment, bring your valid Colorado state fishing license and $60 cash or check. Sorry, we cannot take debit or credit cards. The pass cannot be transferred or prorated.

  • Lake Mary

    Lake Mary boardwalk T Wall 150x118

    • Lake Mary is 8.4 acres and 12.4 feet deep with a .06 mile trail around the lake. The lake has a new boardwalk and fishing piers.
    • Bank fishing only, wading is prohibited.
    • All cattail peninsulas and islands are closed to protect wildlife habitat.
    • Artificial lures, flies, cut bait, and food products are permitted.
    • Fish species: Largemouth bass, channel catfish, white and black crappie, and bluegill.
    • Park at the Lake Mary Learning Center (formerly Contact Station) parking lot and take the Lake Mary Trail to reach the lake. A small parking lot is also available at the base of the lake.

  • Lake Ladora

    Angler holding large fish

    • Lake Ladora is 55 acres and 17.6 feet deep with a 1.8 mile trail around the lake.
    • Bank fishing only. Wade fishing only with calf, hip, or chase waders permitted after Memorial Day to November 30.
    • Fishing is prohibited east of and from the floating boardwalk.
    • Only artificial lures and flies are permitted.
    • Fish species: Northern pike, largemouth bass, and bluegill.
    • Park at North Ladora, South Ladora or North Havana Ponds parking lots to access the lake.


  • Prohibited Activities

    Prohibited Activities:

    • Chumming, gigging, snagging, seining, and netting of non-hooked fish.
    • Use of boats, canoes, kayaks, float tubes, paddle boards, and other floatation devices.
    • Bicycling on all lake trails. See Refuge Trails map for more information.
    • Pets (dogs, cats, etc.) on the Refuge.
    • Use or possession of alcohol.
    • Use or possession of drugs, including marijuana and any controlled substance and associated paraphernalia.
    • Camping or overnight parking on the Refuge.
    • Grilling.
    • Drones.
    • Swimming, wading, and bathing in all Refuge waters.
    • Collecting and disturbing any wildlife and plants or their habitat.
    • Collecting and removing any natural and historic objects.

  • Fishing Line Recycling Stations

    Monofilament recycling station that holds fishing line

    Recycle used fishing line at the monofilament recovery and recycling stations around Lake Mary and Lake Ladora. 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.