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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: 06-14-2016

The flows on the Big Thompson dropped back down to 200 cfs.  This prompted an immediate decision to head up there for my morning trip with 10 year old Henry.  The water was still a little of color, but that didn’t stop the fish from eating. Size 14 and 16 HDA’s and black pheasant tails were on the menu and the fish didn’t complain.  Concentrate your drifts in areas with moderate flow and depth.  I fished a single nymph 24inches below a small indicator.  Caddis were in the air and hatching and at times, we caught several fish on the swing, so make sure to fish your drifts all the way to the end.


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Report Statistics
4/5Time on Water:
Number of Anglers:
Hoook Ups:
Fish Landed:
Weather Experienced

Wind Conditions: Calm
Precipitation: None
Water Observations

Water Temperature:
Flow Level: 190 CFS
Runoff? Tea-Colored

Report Submitted By: Randy Hanner

Big Thompson River Water Flow Graphs