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Nathaniel Kolhoff
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Visiting RMNP 2024
5/5/2024 8:00:00 AM
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Blog by: Nathaniel Kolhoff 7/1/2024
In a place like RMNP, there are some pretty strict regulations. In part, this is because so many people come from all over the place to visit Rocky, and it's important to have strict regs to keep this a great fishing destination for years to come.  And honestly to me I have no issue with it. I've posted pictures before of a bat who had gotten struck by a Kastmaster lure, and who couldn't break free and unfortunately died. This is all due to people not following the regulations, which again are clearly stated on the website; they weren't fishing with a barbless lure in water that was labeled for catch-and-release only. 

Most of these regulations are pretty clear. For example, fishing in ALL waters of RMNP is to be by artificial flies and lures only. Imagine my irritation when I saw countless people with bobbers all over Sprague Lake, with park rangers in sight. This is again due to people NOT reading the regs, or not caring, can't confirm which one it is. 

One other regulation that I was finally able to confirm is this- 
  • Only artificial flies or lures with one hook (single, double, or treble) with a common shank may be used in park waters. Fly fishers may use a two-hook system with one hook as an attractant. "Artificial flies or lures" means devices designed to attract fish and made entirely of, or a combination of, materials like wood, plastic, glass, hair, metal, feathers, or fiber.
Here's the confirmation: Does this mean then that you aren't allowed to use a jerk bait with multiple treble hooks? YES IT DOES. So again, if you plan on heading up to fish the park at all, make sure you don't bring any kind of jerk bait or something else with multiple treble hooks. And for my fly anglers- Just 2 flies, not 3. As much as I love the idea of having a hopper with TWO droppers in a deeper channel of a river to fish more of the water column, this is flatly illegal. My guess is that a ranger can also be a stickler and give you a fine for using an articulated streamer with multiple hooks. 

One other thing that's again very well marked, but as we've already established from the bat story, isn't always followed and that's the catch-and-release waters. There is some conflicting info on the website compared to actually IN the park (due to the ongoing argument on whether or not the greenbacks in the park are TRUE greenbacks) but point being this:  all catch-and-release waters ARE marked. And in these waters, only barbless hooks are allowed, period. Whether this be a true barbless hook, or one with the barbs crimped down, this is to ensure healthy cutthroat populations moving forward in the park. Part of what CAN be confusing is the signage- because it states it's catch-and-release for either Greenback Cutthroat or for Colorado River Cutthroat trout. However, it means that whatever species we catch in these waters, we need to be using barbless hooks. 

I reiterate this only because in some waters, like Ouzel Lake, there are both brook trout AND cutthroat. Ouzel is technically only catch-and-release for the cutthroat. However, if you're fishing that lake at all, only barbless hooks are allowed, even if you decide you're going to keep some brookies out of that lake. 

Lastly, don't hesitate to report others. This obviously goes for not only up in the park, but anywhere. The more people are reported, and the more fines are levied, the less likely someone will be to fish illegally in the future. 

Again, I know some of these regulations may seem a little over the top, but it's for the overall benefit of the fisheries and for the sustainability of fishing in this beautiful national park. I know with a lot of this, I'm preaching to the choir; you all follow the regs. But since they aren't always clearly marked AT the location, I just figured a reminder couldn't hurt. Everyone forgive me for my brief soap box; this is just a region I love frequenting, and it hurts me whenever I see people not following the regulations. 

Tight lines, everyone!  

Blog content © Nathaniel Kolhoff
Blog Comments
team FMFO , 7/1/2024 9:01:22 PM
I live in Estes Park and that was spot on ! :)
Banzai Jimmy, 7/3/2024 2:56:20 PM
I appreciate the comment about "barbless" being either a true barbless or a crushed barb. I've yet to get to RMNP or anywhere else that is barbless only, so I haven't had to deal with it. But, I've always wondered. :)
RogBow, 7/17/2024 9:32:09 PM
Kids are allowed to use bait in lakes that are not catch and release, just fyi.
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