Skip to content

Cheesman Canyon

14 Day Forecast: Anglers can expect to see hatches of midges, blue-winged olives, PMD's, golden stoneflies and a sporadic caddis or two.

Effective Patterns: #22-24 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #24 Black Beauty, #22-24 Top Secret Midges, #20-22 JujuBaetis, #22 Stalcup's Baetis, #18-22 Mercury Flashback Pheasant Tail, #20-22 Sparkle Wing RS 2, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #20-22 Manhattan Midge, # 16 Graphic Caddis, #18 Buckskin, #14-16 Elk Hair Caddis, #14 San Juan Worm, #20 Mathew's Sparkle Dun (BWO and PMD), #20 Stalcup's CDC Biot Comparadun (Trico and PMD), #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 in the “canyon” have been stable for the past two weeks as Denver Water is matching incoming flows for their outflows. The good news is that Cheesman Reservoir is staying full, currently it is at 98% capacity! Denver Water is sending water via the North Fork of the South Platte through the Roberts Tunnel to meet downstream demand. Dillon Reservoir is dropping fast, in fact; it’s down to 93% capacity, so look for Denver Water to begin relying on Cheesman’s storage soon. Anglers should prepare themselves for excellent a.m. midge hatches followed by strong mid day PMD hatches.  Later in the afternoon, blue-winged olives make their presence known and the fish key on Baetis nymphs for two hours. In the slower pools and tailouts, savvy dry fly enthusiasts are finding some nice fish rising to “olives.” It’s hard to go wrong with a Mathew’s Sparkle Dun for these surface feeders.

Pat Dorsey Fly Fishing