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Big Thompson River Sponsored by
Date 01-Apr-17
Water Condition
Water Temperature  


Conditions : Big Thompson River - Although we are approaching the spring season, we are still seeing low flows and clear waters. This means anglers must be more careful not to spook the fish when approaching the water. The spawn beds from the browns are still active, so be cautious of redds when wading along the rivers. There are still waters that are iced over, so anglers will have to primarily rely on tailwaters--the waters below dams or other structures that regulates water flow. The regulated water flow keeps the spots from freezing over and provides warmth for the cold-blooded trout. Even with the warmer conditions of these waters, the fish will still behave sluggishly. Fish diets in the winter are made up primarily of midges and an assortment of small blue-winged olive nymphs and are occasionally supplemented by larger mayflies, annelids, trout eggs, stoneflies, and even caddis larva. Winter fishing typically consists of a lot of nymph fishing since the trout are not overly active due to the cold water temperatures, so try using stonefly nymphs and imitation midges. Remember that the hatches are much smaller in the winter, so keep your flies in the #16 to #20 range. It is also important to be mindful of your split shot usage. With the fish being sluggish, they aren’t going to divert too much energy for food, so making sure those flies drift directly in their path is important. Be sure not to use too much split shot though because the last thing you’ll want to do is to have to retrieve a snag in those cold waters. As the trout continue to get a later start, anglers should mirror that and look for ideal times to be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Reported by: Sportsmans Warehouse


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About: - The Big Thompson River originates in Rocky Mountain National Park. Most of the river will flow through Roosevelt National Forest along U.S. Route 34. The river supports browns and rainbows which tend to be shorter than 12 inches. Below Lake Estes dam and downstream past the town of Drake, there are some good pockets and riffles. The Big Thompson's water level seldom necessitates the use of chest waders. In winter the river is normally frozen over with the exception of maybe a 1/2 mile below the dam. Best time to fishing the Thompson is late spring thru autumn.

Directions: To access the Big Thompson from the East, get on Interstate 25 going north to Loveland. Then take Highway 34 west to Estes Park. This highway runs along the river where you'll encounter the meadow section, then canyon, then Estes Lake.
  • Brown Trout
  • Rainbow Trout

Misc Info: -




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