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: 382 cfs
Water Temperature: Mid 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 Cheesman Dam to keep spilling now that the monsoon season has begun. Denver Water will keep the water between 50 and 60 degrees by releasing water from the bottom and mid-level valves. Fishing should remain excellent for weeks to come.
Tips and Other Information: Heavy rainfall above Cheesman Reservoir and in South Park has the South Platte River on the rise. Currently Cheesman Reservoir is full pool, with 112 cfs of water flowing over the spillway. San Juan Worms, stonefly nymphs, scuds, or caddis larvae are excellent attractors right now with the rising water levels. Dropper flies of choice have been midges in the a.m., followed by Baetis and PMD nymphs in the afternoon. Caddis pupae are effective mid day, especially on the swing when you see splashy rises. Elk Hair Caddis have been picking up a few fish, especially if you skate or skitter them!
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.