Cheesman Canyon

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

14 Day Forecast: Look for the flows to drop dramatically as Denver Water prepares to ramp up flows on the North Fork. Anglers should prepare for hatches of golden stoneflies, PMD's, and blue-winged olives.

Effective Patterns: #22 Stalcup's Baetis, #14-16 San Juan Worm, #14-16 UV Scud, #16-18 red Copper John, #20-22 Juju Baetis, #20-24 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #18-20 Mercury Pheasant Tail, #20-24 RS 2, #18-20 Buckskin, #18 Mitchell's Split Case PMD, #18 Barr's Emerger (PMD) #16 Barr's Graphic Caddis, #16 Mercer's Swing Caddis, #14-16 Elk Hair Caddis, #10-12 Amy's Ant, #16 Yellow Sally #16 Stimulator, #18-20 Sparkle Dun, and #20-22 Parachute Adams.


Cheesman Canyon

Flow: 260 ft3/s
Temp: 41 °F
Wind: 9 MPH SW
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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:

Look for flows to drop as Denver Water prepares to move water from Dillon Reservoir via the Roberts Tunnel. Cheesman Reservoir is down to 95% of capacity which is alarming after a huge snow pack.  To the contrary, Dillon is at 101% capacity, so Denver Water will service their customers on the Front Range and outlying areas with water from Summit County.  Anglers should prepare themselves for hatches of midges, caddis, blue-winged olives, PMD’s, and golden stones. Amy’s Ant continues to produce some great fish on top, and a dry and dropper rig is never a bad idea, especially in the skinny water. Water temps are a concern as they are in the upper 50’s to mid 60’s. Keep and eye on them as the volume is reduced, the temps will rise.

Pat Dorsey Fly Fishing