Big Thompson River Fishing Report

The Big Thompson is one of Colorado's finest streams. It flows from Forest Canyon Pass through Forest Canyon where it picks up volume as it is fed my numerous mountain creeks. It becomes fishable at Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, about six miles below its headwaters.  From Moraine Park wade and explore the many braids and channels. Delightful trails up and down river lead to fantastic flyfishing experiences.

With its headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Big Thompson river just below the town of Estes Park is a classic canyon trout river. This 30-foot-wide trout stream is best described as pocket water and riffles, which makes for great walk-wading fly-fishing. Between Estes Park and Drake the Big Thomson is special regulation water. You'll find wild rainbow trout in the 10-14 inch categories (stocking  by the state stopped in 1994) and some brown trout. Below Lake Estes at Estes Park classic tailwater flows are well controlled with fairy stable discharge except for the annual runoff between March and April. From Estes Park the stream flows down to Loveland. The tailwater operates very stable for a dam.
The North Fork Big Thompson River also begins in Rocky Mountain National Park from where it flows along highway 43 east, through the town of Glen Haven and merges with the Big Thompson River in the town of Drake, in the Big Thompson Canyon.


Trout on the Big Thomson can be fincky and will not just take any dry fly you present. Light leaders, tippets and good presentation is called for. Flies should match the surprisingly large number of insects in the Big Thompson or aproximate what's about to hatch. The Big Thomson flows along the busy highway 34 which can make parking a bit crowded at time. However, this water should be well worth your time. On the Big Thomson it pays to visit with a guide the first few times. Local experts will provide you insight to the local hatch and provide instruction for how to fish the Big Thomson for a most productive experience.
Rocky Mountains
South Platte River
78 miles
Game Fish Opportunities
Fishing Trips
The Big Thompson river is a year round fishery that is steep in gradient and made up largely of pocket water, it is a river with easy access. Highway 34 runs along most of the river ... morefrom Loveland, up to Estes Park. With its headwaters starting in Rocky Mountain National Park, it meanders through the town of Estes Park and down the scenic canyon along Hwy 34. Although the Park has many fly fishing opportunities, the majority of local fly fishers concentrate their efforts below Lake Estes and in the canyon. Most of the upper canyon is managed as 'catch and release' providing good numbers of quality trout. The majority of this stretch is public water managing to reduce crowding even in the heart of the season.
With its headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Big Thompson River just below the town of Estes Park is a classic canyon trout river. The personality of this 30-foot-wide ... moretrout stream is best described as pocket water and riffles.

Because of the diversity of water and abundance of trout, the Big Thompson provides a remarkable walk-wading fly-fishing experience for the never-ever or the well-fished angler. The 10-12 inch rainbow or brown trout will take dry flies or nymphs. Big Thompson River fly fishing is an exerpience that is second to none.
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