Effective Patterns: #20 Juju Baetis, #14-16 UV Scud, #20 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #22 Stalcup's Baetis, 20-22 Mercury Midge, #20-22 Manhattan Midge, #18 Buckskin, #20 Pale Olive Midge Larva, #20 Sparkle Dun, #14-16 Elk Hair Caddis, #16 Barr's Graphic Caddis, #16 Mercer's Swing Caddis, #22-24 Matt's Midge, #22-24 Griffith Gnat, and #24-26 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 extremely high due to spring run-off. The river is still fishable, but it is quite challenging right now. Make sure you target the soft water margins and use lots of weight. Anglers should prepare themselves for hatches of midges, caddis, and blue-winged olives. Don’t be afraid to throw some big-bites too as scuds, leeches, craneflies, and stoneflies are also great options, especially for an attractor. Denver Water plans to blend bottom-releases with the spillway water to keep temperatures optimum for the trout. Currently the water is 52 degrees in the upper, 54 in the lower, and warms up quickly as it gets to Deckers.