Blue Stream Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing Report for:

Big Thompson - Below Lake Estes - Colorado

Hatch Chart - Best Access/Spots - Local Fish - About

Water Flow Chart

Using Water Flow Charts & Weather Reports: Begin with our water flow charts to grasp stream velocity and volume – look for stable or rising trends to pinpoint ideal fishing times. Learn to interpret sudden spikes or drops, which can indicate potential challenges. Next, consult our weather reports to understand ambient conditions. Pairing the two, you can anticipate fish behavior, choose the right gear, and select the best fishing spots. Use these tools together for a holistic approach to your next fishing adventure.

In-Depth Weather

Directions To Location

Hatch Chart

Month Hatch Time of Day Recommended Fly Sizes Popular Fly Patterns
January Midges Afternoon 18-22 Black Beauty, Mercury Midge
February Midges Afternoon 18-22 Zebra Midge, Black Beauty
March Blue Winged Olives, Midges Mid-day to Afternoon 18-22 Pheasant Tail, Mercury Baetis
April Blue Winged Olives, Midges Mid-day to Afternoon 16-20 RS2, Pheasant Tail
May Caddis, Blue Winged Olives Mid-day to Late Afternoon 14-18 Elk Hair Caddis, RS2
June Yellow Stones, Caddis, Green Drakes All Day 12-16 Yellow Stimulator, Elk Hair Caddis
July Caddis, Yellow Stones, Pale Morning Duns All Day 12-16 Elk Hair Caddis, Yellow Sally
August Terrestrials, Tricos, Caddis Morning, Late Afternoon 14-18 Parachute Adams, Ant Patterns
September Blue Winged Olives, Tricos, Terrestrials Morning, Late Afternoon 16-20 Parachute Adams, Trico Spinner
October Blue Winged Olives, Midges Mid-day to Afternoon 18-22 RS2, Black Beauty
November Midges, Blue Winged Olives Mid-day 18-22 Mercer's Biot Midge, Pheasant Tail
December Midges Afternoon 18-22 Zebra Midge, Black Beauty

While we strive to ensure the precision of our hatch charts, some reflect broader river region insights. Through ongoing partnerships with local guides and fly shops, we’re committed to refining our data. Should you notice any inconsistencies or have feedback, we welcome you to reach out. 

Best Fishing Spots

The Big Thompson River, flowing below Lake Estes, offers excellent opportunities for fly fishing. Here are some of the top spots to try:
  • The town of Estes Park: This stretch offers a variety of fishing experiences with deep pools, eddies and riffles packed with Trout.
  • Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park: This park provides easy access to river banks and boasts the largest concentration of Brown Trout in the area.
  • Big Thompson Canyon: Known for its fast-flowing water and rocky terrain, this area is a favorite for more adventurous anglers.
  • Drake and Loveland areas: These locations offer a subtle blend of urban and rustic fishing experiences. Expect to find abundant Rainbow Trout here.
One thing’s certain- no matter where you decide to cast your line on the Big Thompson, you’ll find an unforgettable fly fishing experience. Remember, appropriate fishing licenses are required before you begin.

Best Access Points

The Big Thompson River, below Lake Estes, offers prime terrain for fly-fishing. Here are the best access points:

  • Viestenz-Smith Mountain Park: Post-flood renovations have led to fantastic fly-fishing conditions. The park, located 12 miles west of Loveland, has easy river access.
  • Big Thompson River below Olympus Dam: This tailwater provides year-round fishing opportunities. The first few miles below the dam provides the easiest access.
  • Sleepy Hollow Park: Located two miles east of Estes Park, the park provides access to both fast and slow water.
  • Waltonia Bridge: West of Drake, the Waltonia Bridge crossing offers moderate access to the river.
  • Idylwilde Dam: Despite the 2013 flood destroying the dam, the spot remains an access point. However, the terrain is more rugged.

Each spot offers unique views and fishing opportunities, ensure to follow all local guidelines for a successful outing.

Local Fish

  • Brown Trout: Known for their beautiful color and fight, these are a smaller trout species that are fun to catch.
  • Rainbow Trout: Quite popular among fly fishers, the Rainbow trout is distinctive for its colorful stripe.
  • Brook Trout: Offers a unique angling experience due to its unique characteristics and beautiful coloration.
  • Cutthroat Trout: Named after the distinctive red-orange streak on their throat, they are a fly fishers delight.
  • Greenback Cutthroat Trout: Originally native to the rivers and streams of the Front Range, a sub-species of Cutthroat trout.
  • Mountain Whitefish: Not renowned for their fight or leap, but their abundance makes them a popular target.
  • Pike: Known for their aggressive strikes and the fight they give when hooked, Pike are one of the most exciting species to catch.
  • Yellow Perch: Although not a common target for fly fishing, their abundance and the challenge they provide make them a worthwhile catch.

About The River

The Big Thompson River – Below Lake Estes is famous for its unique features and storied history. Situated in Colorado, the river is treasured for its tranquil beauty and bountiful wildlife. It all started in the early 20th century when Lake Estes was formed by constructing the Olympus Dam. The damming created a reservoir known as Lake Estes, after which the river flows magnificently.

Fishing enthusiasts, particularly, find the river segment below Lake Estes especially enchanting due to an abundance of trout. The tranquil environment combined with clear waters makes it perfect for catch and release. Unique geographical traits of the river ensure fish thrive in diverse habitats throughout the area.

  • The river is known for its rocky canyon walls that offer shelter and plentiful food for aquatic wildlife.
  • Anglers can spot ravens, river otters, and even bighorn sheep enjoying their habitat.
  • History lovers should note the remembrance of the 1976 flash flood that claimed several lives in the Big Thompson Canyon.

Come explore the history and abundant beauty of the Big Thompson River – Below Lake Estes – it truly is a testament to the power of nature and the resilience of wildlife.


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