Social Distancing – Spring Fly Fishing In Estes Park


With everything happening in the world right now concerning COVID-19, we understand how hesitant you may be to get out of the house, and for good reason. The CDC has recommended restricting travel as much as possible, and some states have even limited travel to strictly going to the grocery store. Because this virus is ever evolving, it is important to stay informed on the latest emergency plans and government closures.  

As of today, the state of Colorado is still open, and hopefully moving into April and May our country will continue to see a decline in COVID-19 cases and more businesses and services will begin to open back up. That being said, we are entering one of the best seasons for fly fishing in Estes Park, and there is no better way to socially distance yourself from spreading a virus then by standing in the middle of a river waving a stick in an attempt to catch some trout. 

Fly Fishing The Big Thompson River In Spring

Spring time always brings about much excitement for fly fishing in Colorado, as the ice begins to thaw and our river systems begin to open back up. It is also a great window of opportunity to fish rivers at great water levels before the rush of spring run-off comes rushing down the mountains and into our drainage basins, and the rivers become nearly unfishable. The following are some pieces of advice we have for fly fishing the Big Thompson River during the spring months. 

Keep It Small

During March and April when the water levels in the Big Thompson are still very low, it is perfectly fine to fish multiple nymphs that are not any larger than a size #18 or #20. As always, one of our favorites is the sparkle wing RS2, a year-round snack for the browns and rainbows throughout the Big Thompson Canyon. A common misconception is that you need a bigger nymph as your lead fly in order for the trout to see any of your sub-surface presentation. When the Big Thompson is running clear and hovering around that 100-150 cfs mark, this is not the case! Fishing a size #18 zebra midge followed by a size #20 rs2 pattern will yield plenty of fish. 

Smaller Strike Indicators

The Big Thompson River is not a naturally deep river. During the low springtime flows, fish will often be holding in 1-2 feet of water, which means the distance from your strike indicator to your first fly does not have to be very far. It also means that bigger, heavier strike indicators can easily spook fish when they hit the surface of the water. Even though you are unlikely to get any rises on a big dry fall, we recommend using one as part of a dry-dropper set up, in order to softly land those flies on the water and easily detect strikes. Another alternative would be to use a New Zealand strike indicator, which you can pick up at our shop!

Explore Beyond The Tailwater

For most of the winter, a lot of us local Estes Park fisherman are confined to the tailwater right below the Lake Estes Dam, as this is the only open water that we are able to fish. We will surely get some more spring snow, but more and more water is opening up in the Big Thompson Canyon every day, and we encourage you to get out there and explore any piece of water from the golf course all the way down to the Dam Store at the bottom of Highway 34. Believe us when we say that sizable fish can be caught at any point along the Big Thompson Canyon!

Contact Us For A Guided Trip

As of the weekend of March 21st, Kirks Fly Shop is still open for business, and while we encourage you to continue to take quarantine shelter to benefit the well-being of our world, we welcome you to book a guided fly fishing trip as soon as this all blows over. Our guides know the Big Thompson River like the back of their hand, and are sure to give you a great experience while guaranteeing that you catch some trout!