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.
Flow: 199 cfs
Water Temperature: Low 50’s in the upper canyon, but the river warms quickly as it moves downstream. Denver Water is closely monitoring stream temperatures to keep them between 50 and 60 degrees.
Hatches: Midges, blue-winged olives, yellow sallies, golden stoneflies, and caddis.
14 Day Forecast: Look for sporadic hatches of PMD’s, caddis, and Tricos. Denver Water will keep the water between 50 and 60 degrees by releasing water from the bottom and mid-level valves. Conditions should be ideal for weeks to come.
Tips and Other Information: Class is back in session in Cheesman Canyon. The Cheesman trout are once again eating the “small stuff” and fishing has tightened up a bit. Anglers willing to work hard, however; reap the benefits of some quality trout! Fly-fishers can expect to find a few trout rising to blue-winged olives, Tricos, and PMD’s. Target the slower pools and tailouts if you are looking for risers. The dry fly fishing has been quite good if you look in the right areas! The golden stoneflies continue to emerge but the hatch is winding down quickly. Amy’s Ant is still picking up a few fish, but not in the same numbers as a few days ago. Looking ahead, it’s time to fish with tiny midges and Baetis nymphs again.
Effective Patterns: #16-18 Barr’s Graphic Caddis, #10 Pat’s Rubber Legs, #14 San Juan Worm, #14 orange or olive UV Scud, #18-20 Buckskin, #16 Elk Hair Caddis, #14-16 yellow Stimulator, #20-24 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #20-22 Jujubaetis, #22 Stalcup’s Baetis, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #20 Top Secret Midge, #20-22 Mercury Flashback RS 2, #20-22 Sparkle Wing RS 2, #10 Amy’s Ant, #20 Sparkle Dun (BWO) #16 Sparkle Dun (PMD), #16 Cannon’s Snowshoe Dun (PMD), and #24 Parachute Adams.
Jim Cannon of the Blue Quill Angler states “…anytime is the right time to fish Cheesman Canyon, it can be fished all year”. The boulder-filled Cheesman Canyon section of the South Platte River is considered by many to be one of the most pristine fisheries in the world.
In 1976, it became the first section of river in Colorado to be protected with catch and release regulations. The Canyon is an unforgettable fly fishing experience. A roughly 1.5 mile hike from the parking lot to the river’s edge presents the angler with three miles of beautiful canyon with Bald Eagles a flight, a river filled with enormous boulders and superb river banks to fish. It is a perfect day trip alone, with family or fishing buddies.
This three-mile section is fished most successfully with nymphs and anglers can expect to catch large rainbows and good-sized browns within the close company of other fisherman. The Canyon is best fished on overcast days with good presentation only 2 or 3” away from the fish’s nose. It has been said “if you can catch fish in The Canyon, you can catch them anywhere”.
The best reviews from our clients come in the spring when blue-winged olives start to show themselves on a regular basis (late March through late May). Flows are perfect that time of year from 100-300 cfs.