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: 151 cfs
Water Temperature: Low to mid 40’s
Hatches: Midges, blue-winged olives, and caddis
14 Day Forecast: Look for good hatches of midges, blue-winged olives, and sporadic caddisflies
Tips and Other Information: Cheesman Canyon is fishing fair to good right now. Denver Water continues to hold back water in an effort to fill Cheesman Reservoir. Look for flows to remain between 100-50 cfs for until the reservoir fills. Outflows will vary depending on downstream demand and weather patterns. If we get a lot of moisture in the Front Range, look for Denver Water to lower the river levels. If it get hots, chances are good the outflows will increase. Currently the lake is still 5100 acre feet from the top and spilling. Unfortunately the reservoir is losing water now with low inflows. There is plenty of snow in the high country and things will improve with warmer weather! Nighttime lows are still too cold to manifest the snow fields into water. In the a.m., flies of choice have been #22 Mercury Midges, #24 Black Beauties, and #24 Top Secret Midges. Look for a nice blue-winged olive hatch each afternoon between 1 and 3 p.m. Overcast days provide the best dry fly fishing. Regardless of the conditions, sub-surface fishing in the afternoon is good with an assortment of Baetis nymphs.
Effective Patterns: #22-24 Top Secret Midge, #20-24 Chocolate Foam Wing Emerger, #20-22 Jujubaetis, #22 Stalcup’s Baetis, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #20-22 Mercury Flashback RS II, #20-22 Sparkle Wing RS 2, #18 Hot Tail Flash Egg, #22-24 Sparkle Dun, #22-24 Cannon’s Snowshoe Dun, #22-24 Barr’s Visa Dun (BW0) 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.