Veterans with a >60% disability rating can obtain a free lifetime fishing permit by registering for an iSportsman account (Step 1) and emailing VA paperwork to to validate your DV rating (Step 2).  Once your eligibility is validated you will be able to access the free permit on the Aquire Permits page.  A DoD-issued identification card is required to access the lakes.

Mobility-impaired fishermen needing an airfield gate access badge must call Natural Resources at (719) 333-3308 to complete the badging paperwork, which is processed at the South Gate Pass and Registration Center.  A state-issued handicap license plate or placard is required for airfield access.

Recreational Fishing

The five Air Force Academy lakes (map) and three Farish Recreation Area lakes (map) are stocked with 9-11" rainbow trout from April through September.  Channel catfish are also occasionally stocked in the Academy's lakes.  Grass carp stocked for aquatic weed control should be released.

The sale of fishing permits covers the yearly cost of stocking the hatchery-reared trout and catfish.  All anglers 16+ years of age must purchase a one-day ($8) or annual ($22) fishing permit, which is valid for both the Air Force Academy and Farish Recreation Area.  A $6 permit allowing the use of a second fishing rod is also available.  A state fishing license is NOT required.


Fishing is NOT open to the general public; only active duty military, military retirees, disabled veterans (or eligible caregivers) with a Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC), active DoD civilians, and sponsored guests are eligible to fish the Air Force Academy and Farish Recreation Area lakes.  Camping and lodging guests at Farish Recreation Area that do not meet one of these customer types can only purchase a one-day fishing permit.  Additional fishing information and regulations is published in USAFAI32-7001

Customer Type Annual One-Day Second Rod

Fishing Permits Available by Customer Type

Active Duty (and dependents) Yes Yes Yes
Military Retiree (and dependents) Yes Yes Yes
<60% Disabled Veterans (and eligible caregiver) with Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC) Yes Yes Yes
Purple Heart Recipients and >60% Disabled Veteran with a VA rating letter Free Free Yes
USAFA DoD Civilian, AAFES, NAF Employee (and dependents) Yes Yes Yes
Non-USAFA DoD Civilian Employee (and dependents) No Yes Yes
Sponsored Guest No Yes Yes









Purchasing an Online Permit

To purchase a fishing permit, please follow these instructionsEach person must create a unique iSportsman account for the permit to display the permittee's name.  After completing the purchase, print the permit or save a PDF or photo copy to a mobile device.  Write down the username and password for each account to speed the permitting process next season.  Some form of the permit must be in your possession while fishing

Access to purchase a one-day or annual fishing permit depends on the customer type selected during the account registration process, as shown in the above table.

Purchasing an Over-the-Counter Permit

Over-the-counter permits are available through the Force Support Squadron (FSS) at Farish Recreation Area, Outdoor Recreation, and FamCamp, but we request you use the online system whenever possible.  By using iSportsman our administrative costs are reduced and more of the permit fee goes toward fish stocking and other natural resources projects.    

Lifetime Disabled Veteran/Purple Heart Permit and Handicap Access to Kettle Lakes

Free, lifetime fishing permits are available for Purple Heart recipients and veterans with a 60% or higher Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)  disability rating.To obtain a free lifetime permit you must register for an iSportsman account (Step 1) andemail VA paperwork to melissa_whittingslow@fws.govto validate your DV rating (Step 2).Once your eligibility is validated you will be able to access the free permit on the Aquire Permits page. A DoD-issued identification card is required to access the lakes. 

Mobility-impaired fishermen with a state-issued handicap vehicle license plate or placard can apply for a DBIDS badge that operates the Airfield's west gate (K1), which provides easier access to the Kettle Lakes.  A "disabled veteran" license plate does not meet the Airfield's requirements for gate access.  Call Natural Resources at (719) 333-3308 to complete the DBIDS paperwork, which is submitted by email to the South Gate Pass and Registration Center. Airfield DBIDS badges are valid for one-year and can only be renewed within 30 days of expiration. 

Instructions on how to operate the airfield gate and a map of the access to the Kettle Lakes is available here.  


The fishing regulations are published in USAFAI32-7001.  Key regulations include:

  • The daily catch limit is three (3) fish
  • Fishermen 16+ years of age must have a base permit
  • A second rod permit is required to use two poles simultaneously
  • Cleaning fish and disposing of entrails in the lakes is prohibited
  • Guests must be accompanied by their sponsor
  • Protect wildlife - dispose of fishing line and trash appropriately
  • Ice fishing is prohibited on all USAFA lakes.  Farish lakes may periodically be open for ice fishing.

Invasive Aquatic Organisms, Fish Diseases

Unwanted fish species, invasive aquatic organisms, and fish diseases can severely impact the quality of a lake or stream for fishing. Unfortunately, all of these problems have been introduced to the Academy's lakes by fishermen, fish hatcheries, and from upstream ponds.  Nuisance fish such as goldfish, koi, European rudd, and crappie occur in most of the lakes.  If caught, these fish should be disposed of in the available trash containers.  Although the Academy stocks only whirling disease-free trout, the parasite that causes this disease does occur in the lakes.  Most stocked trout are not in the lakes long enough to contract and display the symptoms of whirling disease.  Infected fish are safe for human consumption with proper cooking.

Anchor worm, another fish parasite, is prevalent in the lakes. This disease is caused by an external parasite that penetrates the fish’s skin, often at the base of a fin.  The head develops into an “anchor” that holds the parasite in place, then the female produces egg sacs that resemble small worms.  The site of attachment usually develops into a bumpy sore which can cover the body of a severely infected fish.  The cause of an anchor worm outbreak is unknown, but it is likely that a combination of environmental and biological factors, such as higher water temperature and fish density, help promote the parasite.  There is no practical method for treating the fish or controlling the parasite.  Although the fish can look unsightly, anchor worm does not pose a human health risk and infected fish are safe to consume with proper cooking.

Help prevent aquatic invasives and diseases

  • Don't dump bait fish or aquarium fish in the lakes
  • Don't transfer fish between the lakes
  • Clean all fishing tackle and gear
  • Disinfect waders and float tubes with a 10% bleach solution