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Big Thompson River

Starting as a mere trickle on the east side of the Continental Divide, inside Rocky Mountain National Park, the Big Thompson flows from Forest Canyon Pass near the top of Trail Ridge Road through Forest Canyon. As small drainages offer additional snowmelt, the Big Thompson picks up volume, turning into one of Colorado’s finest streams.

The Big Thompson becomes fishable at Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, about six miles downstream of its headwaters. It’s there at Moraine Park, where the river splits into numerous braids and channels, that fisherman encounter the river’s first public access. Trails leading up and down the river from that point will lead you to great flyfishing experiences.

Moraine is a wide-open area, but the Big Thompson’s banks are lined with willows. It’s typical small stream conditions, and the river is filled with, you guessed it, brook, brown, and cutthroat trout in the 6- to 12-inch range. They’ll readily take a variety of general attractor flies.

River description excerpted from Flyfisher's Guide to Colorado by Marty Bartholomew
River description excerpted from Flyfisher’s Guide to Colorado by Marty Bartholomew

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Latest Guide Report

Fishing Report Date: 10-14-2016

The Big Thompson is still fishing fairly well in the canyon and above Lake Estes also.  Fishing right below the dam in the meadow can be rewarding, but the fishing is very technical right now.  Flies for success include BWO dries and midge nymphs.  Sizes range in size from 18-22.  A small parachute adams can be a great fly this time of year, especially if you see rising fish.   Try a down and across approach to show the fly to the fish first.  This will help you keep a fair distance and avoid spooking the fish by casting over them.

If you are fishing in the canyon and the fish aren’t rising, try fishing a dry dropper.  Good dry flies include size 14 CDC & Elk caddis, size 14-16 hippie stompers in black, red and royal.  Droppers include small pheasant tails (size 20 and 22), size 18-12 blue poison tungs, rainbow warriors, and harvester midges. Be sure to keep your tippet sizes down.  6x tippet to your dropper (fluorocarbon is preferred) to help your flies get down faster and will let your nymphs drift more naturally in the current.

Report Statistics
/5Time on Water:
Number of Anglers:
Hoook Ups:
Fish Landed:
Weather Experienced

Wind Conditions: Calm
Precipitation: None
Water Observations

Water Temperature:
Flow Level: CFS
Runoff? Clear

Report Submitted By: Randy Hanner

Big Thompson River Water Flow Graphs