Effective Patterns: #22-24 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #22 Stalcup's Baetis, #22 JujuBaetis, #20 Sparkle Wing RS 2, #14 Elk Hair Caddis, #22 Manhattan Midge, #24 Black Beauty, #24 Bling Midge, #20 Red Larva, #18 Micro egg, #24 Parachute Adams, #24 Matt's Midge, #22-24 Griffith Gnat
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:
Releases below Cheesman Reservoir are low, but they are still above their normal historic levels for this time of year. It’s now time to employ standard winter tactics and fish the slow, deep pools where trout congregate for the next 4 months. Look for a sporadic blue-winged olive or two in the afternoon, but those Baetis hatches will fizzle-out quickly leaving only midges. Time to drop to 6X tippet and fish the little bugs in the soft water margins. The best fishing is between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Mid-day expect to see a few midges hatching which is the perfect opportunity to fish with pupae in the transitional zones and mid channel shelves.