More Coloradans Are Fishing This Year, In Part Because Of The Pandemic

July 19, 2020
Women Flyfishing ScholarshipWomen Flyfishing ScholarshipHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Cascade, Colorado, flyfishing guide Kaitlin Boyer, at right, introduces Lauren McKenzie of Colorado Springs to flyfishing at South Catamount Reservoir behind Pikes Peak on Thursday, July 18, 2019.

More Coloradans are casting their fishing rods. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has issued nearly 90,000 more annual fishing licenses so far this year compared to the same period in 2019.

That uptick is largely the result of people feeling cooped up from stay-at-home restrictions and other public health orders, CPW spokesman Travis Duncan said.

“Fishing, overall, is a very good activity while maintaining social distance,” Duncan said. 

In addition to annual licenses, CPW sells several other fishing licenses, including one-day passes and stamps that let you fish with more than one rod. In the first half of this year, nearly 710,000 various fishing permits were sold.

Some local businesses have also experienced a bump in sales thanks to more people fishing. That includes the Colorado Springs fishing store Angler's Covey, which reopened in May. Owner David Leinweber said he worried his business and his staff would suffer from a drop in sales during the pandemic. However, the store has  struggled to keep up with booming demand.

“I've been scrambling the entire month of June just to get product,” Leinweber said. “We're almost caught up now. But it's been really an unbelievable, crazy phenomenon that you go from April, where I think I might lose my business, to May.”

Leinweber noticed a lot of his customers are fishing for the first time, including families that are picking up the new hobby together. Erie resident Duc Nguyen fits into both categories. He purchased his first fly fishing setup last Christmas, and finally started to use it during the pandemic. He’s also brought his son with him on some fishing trips.

“With all that's around Colorado, it was like the perfect thing to get into,” Nguyen said. “Get to see a little bit about the state and some of the different recreational areas because we love being outside.”

Nguyen has noticed areas getting more crowded, he said. Some longtime anglers have said they’re happy that local shops are getting some extra business during these tough economic times. 

Eeland Stribling, an outdoor educator and member of the national angling group Brown Folks Fishing, said the more people that get involved in fishing, the better. 

“I'm a strong advocate for the more people that understand the value of a resource and area, the easier it is to protect it and conserve it,” Stribling said. 

Colorado puts the money from fishing license sales back into conserving habitats and protecting wildlife. Last fiscal year, CPW brought in more than $96 million in license sales, including for hunting. 

Current annual fishing licenses are valid through March 2021. As of July 1, any visitor 18 or older must have a valid fishing or hunting license to access a State Wildlife Area or State Trust Land leased by CPW.