The Colorado Master Angler Program

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The Colorado Master Angler Program

Catching impressive fish can be hard! And we believe that people who catch those impressive fish should be recognized!

Fortunately for thousands of anglers, so does the state of Colorado!

And this is also not a particularly novel concept. Numerous states throughout the country offer recognition programs for successful anglers.

For example, in Ohio, landing a qualifying catch can earn you recognition in the state’s Fish Ohio program. And Colorado’s program is no different.

Sponsored by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the master angler program is pretty straightforward. Anglers catch a fish of qualifying length and, in return, they are recognized with a certificate and a lapel pin.

While it might not seem like much, these mementos can be passed down from generation to generation.

Qualifying Catches for the Colorado Master Angler Program

So, what do you have to do in order to qualify?

First, make sure you have a valid Colorado state fishing license.

Next, while legally fishing on Colorado waters, catch one of over three dozen qualifying fish species. The state does not recognize fish that were snagged.

Then, close the fish’s mouth and measure from the lip to the end of the tail. A side-view photograph of the fish (with measurements displayed) should be submitted with the verification of one witness. Colorado requires a second witness verification if not photograph is available.

Anglers will have sixty days to submit their catch to CP&W. Entries should be mail to:




The minimum qualifying length is listed in inches

Rainbow Trout: 24″
Brown Trout: 22″
Brook Trout: 16″
Cutthroat Trout: 20″
Snake River Cutthroat: 20″
Rainbow & Cutthroat hybrid (Cutbow): 22″
Golden Trout: 16″
Lake Trout: 32″
Tiger Trout: 18″
Splake: 20″
Arctic Char: 18″
Whitefish: 15″
Kokanee Salmon (angling only): 20″
Grayling: 15″
Northern Pike: 36″
Tiger Muskie: 40″
Sauger: 26″
Walleye: 26″
Saugeye: 26″
Yellow Perch: 12″
Sacramento Perch: 12″
Largemouth Bass: 18″
Smallmouth Bass: 17″
Spotted Bass: 18″
Wiper: 25″
Striped Bass: 28″
White Bass: 17″
Green Sunfish: 10″
Redear Sunfish: 12″
Bluegill: 10″
Hybrid Bluegill: 10″
Crappie: 14″
Channel Catfish: 30″
Blue Catfish: 30″
Flathead Catfish: 30″
Black Bullhead: 14″
Common Carp: 30″
Grass Carp: 30″
White Sucker: 22″
Longnose Sucker: 18″
Drum: 20″
Tench: 18″
Pumpkinseed: 8″

With Conservation in Mind…

According to the CP&W website, the Colorado master angler program is intended to promote conservation. The scenic, nature-rich state wants to ensure that its 1,300 lakes and reservoirs (and countless streams and rivers) remain both health and well-stocked.

The Master Angler Recognition Program is designed to recognize anglers for success in their sport, as well as to promote the conservation of fishery resources and quality fishing by encouraging the careful release of trophy-size popular sport species. – Colorado Parks & Wildlife website

As such, the program recognizes both catch-and-kept and catch-and-release categories. CP&W also recognize the longest (in inches) released fish per species annually. Award winners are recognized on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website at the start of each year.

The Colorado master angler program records fish exclusively by length, whereas Colorado state fishing records are calculated by weight. This benefits anglers looking to earn recognition as it increases their odds of catching a qualifying fish.

In 2019, several anglers recorded multiple registries on the master angler list. Brian Steinfield Sr., Garrett Smith, Jason Davis, John Fearheiley, Joseph Hill, Kevin Keens, Nathanial L. Tims, Neela Lingenfelter, Nicholas Peardot, Taylor Kelly, and Travis Braxton all recorded at least two qualifying catches.

Keens caught (and released) five qualifying rainbow trout in April alone!

Have you qualified for Colorado’s master angler program in the past? Have any great stories to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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