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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: 06-23-2018

The Big Thompson below Lake Estes is fishing well. There are a ton of bugs out including PMD’s, midges, caddis, and blue wing olives. The fish are looking up pretty consistently, especially in riffle water. For dries try fishing extended body PMD’s (#16-18), olive X-Caddis (#14-18), pearl body caddis (#14-18), chubby Chernobyl (#16), extended body BWO (#16-18), and tan elk hair caddis (#16). Nymphs have been catching plenty of fish as well. Try throwing one of these behind one of the above-mentioned dries. Micro mayfly (#16), cinnamon toast (#16), Frenchie (#14-18), black and olive zebra midge (#16-18), poison tung (#16-18) or jigged pheasant tail (#16). Flows remain high so make sure to hit the slow water no matter the size of the pocket.

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