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Cheesman Canyon

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

14 Day Forecast: Look for low flows until Cheesman Reservoir fills. Anglers can expect strong hatches or midges and sporadic Blue-Winged Olives.

Effective Patterns: #20-22 Medallion Midge, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #22-24 Black Beauty, #20-22 Manhattan Midge, #20-24 Top Secret Midge, #22-24 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #20 JujuBaetis, #22 Stalcup's Baetis, #20 Mercury Flashback PT, #20 Sparkle Wing RS 2, #18 Hot Tail Flash Egg, #16 Graphic Caddis, #16 Elk Hair Caddis, #20-22 Griffith Gnat, #20-22 Matt's Midge, #20-22 Sparkle Dun, #20-22 Blue Dun, #20-22 Blue Quill, and #20-24 Parachute Adams.

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:

Flows are low considering the time of year. Cheesman Reservoir is 18,000 Acre Feet from full pool (75% full), so expect low flows for a while. The good news is Spinney Reservoir and Eleven Mile Reservoir are full, so incoming flows are now approaching 450 cfs. Pray for a good monsoon season to assist in filling Cheesman Reservoir. In the mean time, anglers can plan on tougher than normal fishing. Look for strong hatches of midges and sporadic BWO’s and caddis. Water temps have been in the mid 40’s during the morning, but rising quickly the mid 50’s mid afternoon. Please pinch your barbs and release the trout quickly. Keep them in water as much as possible and try to keep your photos (especially grip and grins) to a minimum until the flow improves…

Pat Dorsey Fly Fishing