Cheesman Canyon

Closeup of man holding a large trout in the tailwaters at Cheesman Canyon

14 Day Forecast: Look for reliable hatches of midges and blue-winged olives. Flows will remain low until Spinney Reservoir fills or there is a call for water to meet downstream irrigation or city-needs demand. Mark Adams photo

Effective Patterns: #20 Juju Baetis, #20-Choc Foam Wing Emerger, #22 Stalcup's Baetis, 20-22 Mercury Midge, #20-22 Manhattan Midge, #20 Pale Olive Midge Larva, #22-24 Black Beauty, #22-24 Bling Midge, #22-24 Top Secret Midge, #22-24 Minute Midge, #22-24 Jujubee Midge, #22-24 Matt's Midge, #22-24 Griffith Gnat, #20 Sparkle Dun, and #24-26 Parachute Adams.


Cheesman Canyon

Flow: 418 ft3/s
Temp: 25 °F
Wind: 8 MPH SW
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Stream Conditions & Tips from Pat Dorsey for Fly Fishing Cheesman Canyon in Colorado

The picturesque boulder-filled Cheesman Canyon portion of the South Platte River is considered by many one of the most pristine fisheries in the world. This area, often times simply referred to, as “the Canyon” is an experience you’ll never forget. It’s the perfect scenario, magnificent beauty in combination with great fly fishing.

The South Platte River carves its way through a granite canyon lined with ponderosa pines, willows, fallen tree trunks, and various other assorted ground foliages. Boulders as big as Volkswagens Beetles create structure for the super-selective trout residing in the river. Mule Deer, Black Bear, Raccoons, Mountain Lyons, and Bald Eagles all add to the experience. Anglers can expect to catch mostly large rainbows supplemented with a few nice brown trout. The aforementioned “canyon” is as technical as they get, and if you can catch trout here, you can catch them anywhere in the world. This three-mile section is primarily a nymphing fishery requiring tiny midge and mayfly imitations with fine 5 and 6X tippets. Ideal flows for Cheesman Canyon are between 250  and 400 cfs. The regulations are flies and lures only. All fish must be returned to the water immediately.

Cheesman Canyon is one of the best tailwaters in the country. There's a common belief among "canyon regulars" that if you can catch fish on the South Platte River, you can fool fish anywhere in the world. There's no substitution for good technique in Cheesman Canyon.

Tips & Other Information:

Fishing in Cheesman Canyon has been fair to good.  Anglers should prepare themselves for an a.m midge hatch, followed by a mid day “olive”, followed by midges in the evening.  During the height of each hatch, midge pupae and Baetis nymphs are fooling trout mid column. If you look for them,  you’ll find plenty of risers as well. Water temps remain very cold, starting out at 40 degrees and warming up to 43 degrees each day. Look for fishing to improve now that Denver Water raised the flow twice this week.


Pat Dorsey Fly Fishing