Lower Big Thompson River

Estes Park, Colorado

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This section of the Big Thompson River begins below Lake Estes in Estes Park and winds east for about 20 miles through the Big Thompson Canyon Ouzel Creek in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Wild Basin into the city of Loveland. A major flood in 1976 blew out much of the canyon but resulted in a significant stream-restoration effort, which has created one of the most popular trout fisheries on the Front Range. The habitat-improvement section below the Lake Estes dam holds both the highest concentration of fish, slightly more rainbows than browns, and also the largest fish in the river. They are used to anglers and not particularly spooky, and they can be taken by matching the hatch, usually tiny midges and mayflies, and in the summer caddis, with dries on top and emergers and nymphs beneath the surface. Key Species: Rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout.This heavily fished water continues to be one of the most productive on the Front Range.

Lower Big Thompson River Professional Review and Guide

"This section of the Big Thompson River begins below Lake Estes in Estes Park and winds east for about 20 miles through the Big Thompson Canyon Ouzel Creek in Rocky Mountain National Park’s Wild Basin into the city of Loveland. A major flood in 1976 blew out much of the canyon but resulted in a significant stream-restoration effort, which has created one of the most popular trout fisheries on the Front Range.

The habitat-improvement section below the Lake Estes dam holds both the highest concentration of fish, slightly more rainbows than browns, and also the largest fish in the river. They are used to anglers and not particularly spooky, and they can be taken by matching the hatch, usually tiny midges and mayflies, and in the summer caddis, with dries on top and emergers and nymphs beneath the surface. Key Species: Rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout.This heavily fished water continues to be one of the most productive on the Front Range."

Activity Type: Fishing
Nearby City: Estes Park
Local Contacts: Colorado Division of Wildlife, Fort Collins
Driving Directions: Directions to Lower Big Thompson River

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May 2018