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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: 05-17-2015

The Big Thompson below Olympus dam in Estes Park is still very off-color due to the lake dumping sediment. The further you go down the canyon, it starts to clear… a little.

Fish have been taking Electric Caddis, Copper Ribbed RS2, UV Emerger, BH Zebra, #20 Purple Haze, and pink Squirmies in the slow murky water. In certain spots where there was a little more clarity, fish were rising to a solid BWO hatch. Twigs pulled from the bottom had a healthy mixture of Caddis Larvae and Baetis nymphs.

Tana's First Rainbow on Big T

Tana’s first Rainbow on a cloudy day.

Report Statistics
3/5Time on Water:
Number of Anglers:
Hoook Ups:
Fish Landed:
Weather Experienced

Temperature: 50
Wind Conditions: Light-Breeze
Precipitation: Drizzle
Water Observations

Water Temperature:
Flow Level: 125 CFS
Runoff? on
Wallace Westfeldt

Report Submitted By: Wallace Westfeldt

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Big Thompson River Water Flow Graphs