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  • Writer's pictureWoody

Fly Fishing the Big Thompson River

Estes Park, CO is a memorable adventure. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains just west of Loveland along the Big Thompson River, it offers adventures of a lifetime for those willing to take the leap.

At 8,000 ft, the town itself is a huge tourist attraction offering a multitude of shops. But uniquely hidden along the main street was a shop that offered me the adventure I was looking for. I’m an avid fisherman but call myself a novice at fly fishing. Love the sport for bass fishing but not so much with a fly rod. The issue with fly fishing for trout is the hatch. Bugs, insects, etc., all over and understanding what they are and when to use the right one is not my skill set.

I hired a guide from Kirks Fly Shop to help me along the way. Skilled fly fishermen understand these nuances of what, when and where to use the right rig/setup. Such an angler was Ben Stephenson who has spent a lifetime doing just that. Although I have a fly rod and line, they know it won’t be the right rig. So they set you up for the trip, waders, rod and flies. You don’t need a thing.

Well, that’s great but you want a guide with a personal touch, someone who is patient and there to help. Ben was such a guide. Because I’m not the most stable person on my feet, Ben was there to help so I don’t end up in the water. But he knew the water and the hatch and where to go.

After suiting up, we headed out for our first stop. The Big Thompson merges with several feeder streams and at that convergence Ben got me rigged up. Moving from bolder to bolder, eddy to eddy, we made our way up the river.

Ben was an incredible aid in setting up the rig, selecting the correct flies and teaching me the methods in fly casting. I learned a great deal from him.

Although it wasn’t the best day of fishing I’ve ever had catching one rainbow that was about 14”, but the adventure and the company made the day. I can never say enough about my guide Ben.

But wait, there’s more. His expertise gave me the opportunity to keep trying. Learning the techniques was the key. Locations on the Big Thompson was just as important and we ended the day below the dam of Estes Lake, the continuation of the Big Thompson River. There I was relentless in teasing a nice rainbow that was 21” long and felt like about 3 ½ pounds (I had a ruler but no scale). A beautiful fish and returned him to the water.

Thanks Ben, it was a great day and a great experience!


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