Fly Fishing the Big Thompson River in Estes Park

We’ve been in Colorado three days and so far, we’ve hiked to Alberta Falls, walked around Bear Lake, driven along Trail Ridge Road, sipped lattes at the Alpine Visitor Center, seen a marmot and elk, eaten trout, and lounged on the patio.

Patio time

It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it.

We’re leaving this mountain paradise on Sunday and we realized today we still hadn’t fly fished. Fly fishing is a very popular sport in Colorado because of all the trout, which like the cold water here.

Fly fishing is one way to catch these trout, as they like to feed on bugs that land on the surface of the water and fly fishing imitates that.


We had seen fly fishermen and women in just about every body of water since landing in this state and decided it was time to scratch the proverbial itch.

But what is involved in fly fishing in Colorado?

Most importantly, a license is needed. This can be obtained at a guide shop or outfitter for under ten bucks. (Throw a stone anywhere in Estes Park and you will hit one.)

Second to that, a fly rod and flies are needed. They can be rented or bought at local outfitter shops. You may also want to rent a net and some waders. The guide will tell you what flies will work best for trout fishing in the area.


The Big Thompson River runs through Estes Park, where it is dammed up to create Lake Estes. Visitors can fish, kayak, canoe, and run around the lake and there is ample opportunity to fish upstream or downstream.

We picked a nice stretch of river with a wide, flat riverbank on one side.  It was early in the morning, and the grass was still covered in dew and the breeze coming off the water was cool.

The boys got the rods set up–flies on, line untangled, and reel crankin’.


The object of the game in fly fishing is to have your fly mimic real insects that the trout like to eat. These insects fly above the water, landing occasionally, and floating.


Master this art and you will catch a fish.

And when you do catch one, hold it under water for as long as possible and when you are read to release it, don’t throw it–rather, gently put it back under water and let it get adjusted until it is ready to swim off.


It was a beautiful day to be outside. The skies were clear, the air was crisp, and it was quiet even though we were still within the city limits.


I was observing God’s goodness in a different way this Sunday. If you can’t be in church, you might as well enjoying His creation.




Everyone seemed to be enjoying the morning.


The people upstream from us must have missed some fish, because I walked back to our spot just in time to see Brandon reel in a trout. Go Brandon!

Brandon's Catch

I unhooked it and we put it back in the water after taking this picture. Thank you little fishy for making our day!

(In case you are curious, my Google research tells me trout don’t like to be out of water for more than 15 seconds. Other experts — feel free to weigh in.)

It was a perfect end to a wonderful trip. Five hours later we were on a plane and headed home.

Bye bye Colorado. Till next time.



1 Reply to "Fly Fishing the Big Thompson River in Estes Park"

  • Lazy Day On The River | Whit's Wilderness April 22, 2016 (8:46 am)

    […] (I pack food and a chair.)(We have our priorities.) When he caught a trout last summer during his first attempt at fly fishing, his face lit up. He was hooked. […]

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