Big Thompson River Fly Fishing Report

Latest Update: 9/27/16- The Big Thompson below the dam can make for some great fishing this time of year. Both dry fly and nymphing opportunities abound. During the mornings, nymphing with sow bugs, small pheasant tails, and a variety of small darker colored midge pupa can be incredibly productive. If there are no rises by about lunch time, stick with that same nymphing program or throw on a hopper dropper rig. An Olive Amy's Ant is a VERY productive pattern to throw pretty much anywhere on the Big T. If you do happen across some steady rising fish, make sure you are ready to rig up with some small baetis, midges, and caddis. Running a dual team of micro dries is one of my favorite methods of fishing this stretch during warm fall days from Loveland all the way up to the dam.

River Information

The Big Thompson is another river synonymous with Colorado fly fishing. Located just over an hour north of Denver, this 78 mile long tributary of the South Platte offers wading anglers the opportunity to catch Rainbow, Brown, Cutthroat and Brook trout. The headwaters of the "Big T" originate high in Rocky Mountain National Park and flow into Lake Estes, in Estes Park. This upper section can offer some fantastic, small stream fishing. Below the dam of Lake Estes, the first half mile fishes very much like a tailwater. As the river continues East, flowing through the Big Thompson Canyon along hwy 34, it fishes much more like a freestone and offers anglers considerable amounts of public access. Fish average 12"-16" through the majority of the canyon and is ideal for a 4wt fly rod. 

Match the Hatch

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Winter/Spring- Baetis, Midges (particularly below the dam)

Summer- Caddis, Stoneflies, Mayflies, Terrestrials, Small Streamers

Fall- Caddis, Mayflies, Terrestrials, Small Streamers

Seasonal Conditions

By definition, the lower portion of the Big T is a tailwater, offering anglers fishing opporunities 365 days a year. The bug life present on this river however could arguably seem more characteristic of a freestone. Whichever term you choose to describe it, there's no denying the Big T offers anglers the opportunity to fish a variety of different hatches throughout the year, mimicing the various aquatic insects throughout the entirety of their life cycles. Nymphs, dries and streamers all have their place on the Big T throughout the year and the fish can be very willing and eager to please. 

River Access

Hwy 34 runs east and west between I-25 and the town of Estes Park. Anglers will considerable amounts of public access along this hwy.