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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: 11-09-2017

Lower Big Thompson has been great. Highway 34 is closed about 7 miles into the canyon, but there is still plenty of fishable water. Flows are also finally at a reasonable level. We have been sticking with a dry dropper rig for the most part, with plenty of takes on the surface, especially as the day warms up. Look for those midges and BWO’s to start popping around 2PM, especially on a cloudy day. Start with a Parachute adams or Puple haze on top (#14-18) and drop your favorite midge pattern off of them. Midges that have been working include: Black or olive zebra midges (#16-20), midge bomb (#18-22), or a poison tung (#16-20)

Report Statistics
4.5/5Time 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