Effective Patterns: #Top Secret Baetis, #20-22 Jujubaetis, #22 Stalcup's Baetis, #18-20 Buckskin, #16 Micro San Juan Worm, #16 orange and olive UV Scud, #20-22 Sparkle Wing RS 2, #20-22 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, Barr Emerger PMD, Mitchell's Split Case PMD, #20 Mathew's Sparkle Dun (BWO and PMD), #10 Amy's Ant, #16 Elk Hair Caddis, and Stalcup's CDC Trico Biot Comparadun.
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:
On July 31, 2023, at 4 p.m. Cheesman Canyon experienced heavy rainfall that led to many sediment and granite slides that entered the river. There are approximately 20 sediment slides which have clogged the substrate and filled in a lot of the deeper runs and pools. The worst hit areas are the Emerald Pool, Rainbow Pool and Johnson’s Camp, but there are substantial washouts above and below these areas too. The granite is on the move, so the areas below each sediment fan is moving fast and covering the substrate. I am communicating with Denver Water and Trout Unlimited and we are trying to get a flush of some sort, but unfortunately, the low lying reservoirs (Strontia Springs and Chatfield Reservoir) are full or near capacity and there is no room to move water. As new information becomes available, I will share it with everyone…8/4/31