Big Thompson River Colorado, Estes Park to Loveland

The Big Thompson River Colorado is my home water and I love being able to be on the water in less then 15 minutes. My favorite rod for this water is a 8'6" - 4 weight. Most of the fish in the Big Thompson average 12-16 inches. The local residents are Brown and Rainbow trout in the lower stretches below the dam and Cutthroat and Brook trout in the upper areas in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Several times a year I try to backpack up to one of the high mountain lakes and stay for a couple of days with friends. This is a great place to take beginners because the fish are eager and the scenery is splendid. If you want to learn more about Colorado Camping check out my other website, The Colorado Outdoor Network at Colorado Outdoor Network has information on hiking, backpacking, skiing and everything else you love about Colorado.

Click here to check current stream flow

Just choose Big Thompson River below Lake Estes

The headwaters of the Big Thompson starts in Rocky Mountain National Park and flows through Estes Park into Lake Estes. The lower section of the river starts below Lake Estes dam. It flows through the Big Thompson canyon along highway 34 and under I-25. The Big T, as it is known by locals, is a tailwater, making it fish-able year around.

To get to the Big T from Denver take I-25 north to the Loveland exit (Highway 34) and follow it west.

The water between the dam and the Waltonia bridge is all catch and release water.

This means:

1. Fishing is by artificial flies and lures only.


All trout must be returned to the water immediately.

The canyon between the dam and the Waltonia Bridge has many places to park with some slower drifts and longer stretches of public water. This is some of the best water on the Big Thompson River Colorado. With this being said, it does see more pressure then the water after the bridge.

The Big Thompson canyon ends at the dam store and just after the water reclamation pipe. After the dam the Big Thompson River continues into the Sylvan Dale Ranch area and on into Loveland, Colorado.

Just because you can do winter fly fishing, there are some days it is just not worth it. I have a hard time getting motivated to head to the river when the temperature falls below 40 degrees. When that happens here are some of the best books to help me get my fly fishing fix!

Like any river in Colorado, the Big Thompson River Colorado has some good local fly patterns, most of which are easy to tie. Check with the Loveland Fly Shops for current conditions and a selection of local patterns.

If you are looking for some fishing closer to town, you can follow the Loveland Bike trail all the way to Fairgrounds park. This area has some easier access if you want to fish with the little ones.

Want to keep going on the Big T?

Check out the Rocky Mountain National Park Page.

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