Skip to content

Cheesman Canyon

14 Day Forecast: Look for Denver Water to match incoming flows right now. Anglers should prepare themselves for hatches of midge, blue-winged olives, and caddis.

Effective Patterns: #22-24 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #18 Hot Tail Flash Egg, #24 Black Beauty, #24 Top Secret Midges, #20 JujuBaetis, #22 Stalcup's Baetis, #18-20 Mercury Flashback Pheasant Tail, #20-22 Sparkle Wing RS 2, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #20-22 Manhattan Midge, # 16 Graphic Caddis, #18 Buckskin, #14 San Juan Worm, #20 Mathew's Sparkle Dun, #20 Stalcup's CDC Biot Comparadun, #22-24 Matt's Midge, #22-24 Griffith Gnat, and #20-26 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:

Cheesman Reservoir is currently 89% full, so Denver Water most likely will match inflows for their projected releases until the lake fills. The reservoir is still approximately 8 feet low, which equates to around 8600 acre feet. Currently the downstream demand is high with the above average heat so Denver Water let water go early instead of letting the lake fill. This is great news as the water temps on the lower river were getting warm. The water is currently stained from all the debris that collected over the winter. In the next few days, look for things to improve.  San Juan Worms, Craneflies, and UV Scuds tailed by caddis larvae and mayfly emergers have been the best producers as of late.

Pat Dorsey Fly Fishing