Skip to content

Cheesman Canyon

14 Day Forecast: Look for hatches of midges, blue-winged olives, and caddis.

Effective Patterns: #20-22 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #20 Chocolate WD 40, #20-22 Black Beauty, #20-22 Medallion Midge, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #20-22 Top Secret Midge, #20-22 Manhattan Midge, #18 Micro Hot Tail Flash Egg, #18 Buckskin, #14-16 UV Scud, #22 Stalcup's Baetis, #20 JujuBaetis, #20 Sparkle Wing RS 2, #14 Elk Hair Caddis #16 Barr's Graphic Caddis, #20 Mathew's Sparkle Dun, #20-24 Parachute Adams, #22-24 Matt's Midge, #22-24 Griffith Gnat, and #20-26 Parachute Adams.


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:

Flows are low as Denver Water attempts to fill Cheesman Reservoir which is currently 81 % full. I expect the flows to be in the 100 to 125 cfs range for a while as Denver Water is supplying water to the City and outlying areas via the Robert’s Tunnel. In the meantime anglers should prepare themselves for sporadic hatches of midges, blue-winged olives, and caddis. The “olive” hatches are winding down as they have run their course for the spring months. We’re starting to see more caddis as the water temperatures are approaching 50 degrees so they will become a factor in fly selection in the days to come. Inflows are 260 cfs, so its gonna take some time to fill up the reservoir.  Cheesman Canyon rainbows continue to spawn hard so watch your step in the shallow riffles…

Pat Dorsey Fly Fishing