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The Big Thompson or the Big "T" as it’s known to the locals, flows out of the Front Range and is one of the best tail waters we have close by. With its head waters beginning around the corner in Rocky Mountain National Park, the river flows through the park, through downtown Estes, and into Lake Estes. From there the water is released from the dam and heads down "the canyon" where US 34 follows the river on its journey towards the flats of Colorado and the town of Loveland.
Fishing the Canyon
The meadows of the tail water (just under the damn a .5 mile stretch) might hold some of the biggest fish on the Big T, but don’t expect to have this section to yourself. On weekends or during the summer months this section sees as much pressure as any other “notorious” tail water in the state. These fish have also seen every fly and lure in the books so be creative and make sure to get good drifts to feeding fish. As you continue further down the road and enter the canyon you will find a mix of public and private water leapfrogging each other. Find a stretch of water that suites you, that is not marked private, park, and start fishing. Be aware that wading here can be difficult because of large awkward boulders, so be cautious.
The river sees epic hatches of BWO's in the spring and fall, Caddis all summer long and midges in the winter. There are strong hatches of PMD's, Stones, Yellow Sallies and even a few drakes. These are the major hatches of the Big T, but don’t be surprised to see three or more different hatches coming off at once. This rive is truly a must if you are coming to Colorado for the first time.