I drive over the Big Thompson River a couple of times every day. Here in town, it’s more a wide, flat, canal looking piece of water than the rambling, freestone tail water that resided in the canyon of the same name.

Almost two years ago a destructive flood scoured, gutted, and forever changed the river and landscape where I learned to fly fish.

One of my favorite winter spots...well used to be.


Last year in late August, I tried to pack my emotions away, gathered my courage and drove up the canyon to fish for the first time since the flood. It wasn’t a great day and you can read about it HERE.

This year’s high flows have subsided and the last few times I’ve driven over the river, I’ve slowed down, taking moments to gaze at my old friend. I see its cuts, bruises, and scars, but I also hear its familiar voice calling me.


The voice is not one of sorrow or pain, sadness or loneliness. Instead it’s the voice of an old friend inviting me back to learn about its new changes, to learn new places to fish, and rejuvenate the soul stirring moments that I believed were forever washed away in the flood.

I often stated that one reason I love fishing the Big Thompson River was that each trip was unique, that the river was always changing, even as I stood in its crystalline waters that wrapped icy cold around my legs.


I wonder if I’m afraid to go back, not because I’ll find the river has changed, but that I’m the one who has changed, moved on, and be rejected.

Maybe it’s time to go back, to find an old friend, or make a new one.

Maybe . . .