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Cheesman Canyon

14 Day Forecast: Look for sporadic hatches of midges.

Effective Patterns: #20-22 Jujubaetis, #20-22 Top Secret Baetis, #22-24 Bling Midges, #20-22 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #20-22 Mercury Blood Midge, #18 Micro Egg, #20 Mercury Midge, #20 Miracle Nymph, #20 Buckskin, #22 Brassie, #22-24 Black Beauty, #22-24 Medallion Midge, #22-24 Top Secret Midge, #24 Parachute Adams, #20-22 Pat's Midge, #22-24 Mole Midge, and #22 Griffith Gnats.

Measurements

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:

Cheesman Reservoir is at 87 percent capacity which is great news for winter outflows. Plan on tough but rewarding fishing in the days to come.   Stay away from the faster riffles and runs and target the slower pools and tailouts. Look for sporadic hatches of midges later in the day.  Once this occurs, the trout are moving into the transitional zones to feed. Fishing pupae imitations mid-column has been bringing a few fish to hand. Mercury Midges and Top Secrets Midges have been my top producers as of late. Less is more this time of year…think small, simple, and sparse. Revised 2/6/24

Nothing new to report on the substrate damage that occurred from the flood on July 31, 2023.  Many of the deep holes and classic riffle, run, and pool-tailouts are clogged with decomposed granite and other debris, reducing the trout’s habit.  The biggest concern is the insect choking sediments that are effecting the hatches. Only time will tell on the long term effects pertaining to this horrible act of nature. What we need is a huge snow pack to help clear out the decomposed granite that filled in so many of the famous holes. Revised 2/6/24

Pat Dorsey Fly Fishing