Effective Patterns: #20-24 Medallion Midge, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #22 Jujubee Midge, #22 Minute Midge, #22 Tube Midge, #22-24 Black Beauty, #20-22 Red Larva, #20-22 Manhattan Midge, #20-26 Top Secret Midge, #22-24 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #18 Hot Tail Flash Egg, #20-24 Griffith Gnat, #22-24 Matt's Midge, #22-26 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:
Fishing in Cheesman Canyon has been extremely tough as of late. Cheesman Canyon regulars should prepare themselves for sporadic hatches of midges and look for the occasional fish eating adults in the slower runs, deeper pools, and tailouts. The Family Hole and Ice Box are two great areas to look for rising fish during the winter that are keying on midge-adults. Nymphing with midge larvae and pupae is your best bet right now, however. Target the transitional zones that funnel into the deeper runs and pools. The best fishing is between 11:00 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the water warms up a few degrees.