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Big Thompson River Fishing Information
Estes Tailwater Section - near Estes Park, CO
The tailwater below Olympus Dam is loaded with fish. For such a small section of river (only 1/2 mile or so) , it holds over 3500 fish per mile. This section is doing the best it has in years even after the 2013 flood. In addition, this is a tailwater which makes it fishable year round.
The trade off with this section of the Big Thompson is this: You get to throw to a lot of fish, but they are tough, tailwater, college-educated trout and there are a lot of people on the water to share the river. If you don’t mind crowds and enjoy a challenge to sight fishing for trout, this is an excellent place to visit.
It’s right in the town of Estes Park, so if you need a break, you just a quick drive from main street and some restaurants. You can also fish the Big T in town if you’d like as well, though the tailwater holds bigger fish and more fish.
Fish: Many Small-Sized Fish
Best Techniques: Dries & Nymphs
Best Seasons: Year Round
River Type: Small Tailwater
Fish Types: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout
Dog Friendly: No
Located in the South Platte River Basin near Estes Park, CO
Fishable Seasons & Current Weather
The best seasons to fish this river are Year Round. See the current weather reports for the next 5-6 days listed below for the nearest city.
wind: 8mph SSW
H 74 • L 65
Weather from OpenWeatherMap
Knowing what flies to use is only have the battle. You have to know when the insects are active on the water and when it's likely the trout are feeding on them. Refer to our hatch charts below to understand when the insect categories and some of the possible hatches on the river.
Midges hatch year round, but their importance is from September through winter into April. During the warmer months, the trout often focus on larger insects as they are more active on the water like mayflies, caddis and stoneflies.
Aside from Blue wing olives, mayflies are active most commonly from May to August in Colorado. There are many different mayfly hatches found on most rivers and the most common are listed below.
Blue Wing Olive: September throut winter to April
Pale Morning Dun: June to Mid September
Colors: White, Yellow
Sizes: #14 - #20
Caddis hatch starting early in May and continue to the end of October.
Colors: Olive, Green, Yellow, Tan, Orange, Brown and Black.
Sizes: #10 - #20
We have some great stonefly hatches in Colorado and while not all rivers carry all species of salmonflies, you can often fish stonefly adult patterns with confidence from May to September. Start off in bigger sizes and get smaller till September hits (size 8 - 16)
Terrestrials don't hatch since they are out of the water, but they can have importance starting in Mid April and ending in September.
These are the the top flies we sell for this river. Use the hatch chart above to know what flies you will want to have in your fly box during your adventure on the river and then select the flies here 30 days before your trip to get them at a great price. All of our flies are hand tied to each order to ensure quality and to keep our prices low for you.
Click on a fly below to select a size and color for purchase.
If you need an easier solution than selecting each fly and size, try out our top fly assortments for this river that will put all the flies you need in a single order for this river. We've already selected the flies we use in our fly box for this river including the sizes and colors and put them in these assortments so you can fish with the confidence that you have the right flies in your box.
Click on any of the pictures to see what flies, colors and sizes we recommend in each assortment.
Use these epic resources to get ready for your adventure. Whether you're planning your trip, learning your insects, improving your fishing with expert tips or getting detailed resources from the USGS streamflows or DoW, we got you covered to help you find the river and find the success you want.