Big Thompson River

Big Thompson River

Difficulty Beginner/Intermediate
Ideal Days To Fish 11/3, 11/4 & 11/5

Weekly Report

Report DateNov. 1, 2023

Note: This will be the last report update that will be provided. We’ve loved every minute of this journey and value the relationships we’ve made and the community that we’ve built but unfortunately, it’s time for us to focus on other priorities. It was cold and wet start to the week on the Big Thompson but the weather should rebound over the next few days and increase trout activity. These trout are starting to slow down as overnight temps and afternoon temps drop near or below freezing, but there is still good fishing to be had if you’re willing to make adjustments and cover some ground. The early morning hours have and will continue to be slow, so focus on the 10 am – 4 pm window for best results. Midge and BWO hatches have been consistent and will bring trout to the surface when the conditions are right. A single Griffiths Gnat, Parachute Adams or Parachute BWO will do the trick when trout are actively feeding on the surface. If surface feeding is sporadic, trail a black Foam Back Emerger, Top Secret or RS2 10 inches behind one of those dry fly patterns. This will get the attention of trout feeding in the upper water column on emergers/pupa. Absent a hatch, hit pronounced pools, runs and pockets with a dry double dropper. In this situation, an Amy’s Ant or Hippie Stomper will be ideal as they are buoyant enough to carry multiple nymphs and split shot. Trail a red Copper John, Flashback Pheasant Tail, Prince Nymph, Guide’s Choice Hare’s Ear, Rainbow Warrior or egg behind your dry fly. Below one of those patterns, trail a red/black Zebra Midge, Mercury Midge, JuJu Baetis, RS2 or Blue Poison Tung. Adjust your depth before changing patterns.

Recommended Flies

River Flow

Flow Region

Detailed River Info


The Big Thompson, commonly referred to as the Big T, is a beautiful river that originates high in Rocky Mountain National Park. This small-medium sized river flows through Rocky Mountain National Park and the town of Estes Park before feeding into Lake Estes. Below Lake Estes, the river continues along Highway 34 through Drake, eventually making its way to the town of Loveland. The Big T flows through various types of terrain, offering anglers a variety of scenic and fishing opportunities. The stretch of river that flows through Rocky Mountain National Park is in an open meadow setting and contains brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout and if you’re lucky, greenback cutthroat. Below Lake Estes, anglers will find themselves in a canyon setting dominated by pocket water with a select number of deep pools and runs. Brown and rainbow trout in the 10 – 12” range can be found in this stretch.


The Big Thompson is a diverse river that is friendly to anglers of all skill sets. The stretch that flows through Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park is highly sought after during the summer months. During the summer, this stretch tends to see a lot of foot traffic, so stealthy fishing is required to not spook the trout. Fishing dry and dry dropper setups is the preferred method in Moraine Park. Below Lake Estes, pocket water is prevalent, which may test your ability to fish tight pockets. Nymphing is a productive method year-round, while dry and dry dropper setups are productive during the summer and fall. Overall, the ideal time to fish the Big Thompson is during the summer and fall months. However, if you’re looking to fish during the winter, the section directly below the Lake Estes/Olympus Dam is classified as a tailwater and usually remains ice-free.

River Access

The Big Thompson has many access points with varying levels of difficulty. In order to fish Moraine Park, anglers will need to purchase a $25 National Parks day pass. Moraine Park is located just under 3 miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station on the south side of Estes Park. Below Lake Estes, anglers can access the tailwater section via a public park on Mall Rd. Downstream of the tailwater, there are a number of pull offs along Highway 34 that anglers can use to access the river.  Be conscious of private property when fishing along Highway 34. In general, the bank that borders the road is public and the property along the far bank tends to be private.