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.
14 Day Forecast: Look for intermittent hatches of midges.
Tips and Other Information: Nothing has changed in Cheesman Canyon, it’s fishing tough right now with the low flows. Plan on working hard for every fish you catch! But, the rewards are worth the effort. The fish in Cheesman Canyon are as special as they get. Your best bet is dead drifting tiny midge larvae and pupae in the slow, deep pools where the fish are stacked up for the winter. There are a few risers in the slow pools and tailouts that are midging. These fish can be fooled with a Matt’s Midges or a Parachute Adams in sizes 24-26. Your greatest challenge is finding a feeding fish with the cold water temps. The water is coming out of the dam at 39 degrees, but quickly drops into the mid 30’s as it carves its way through the shaded canyon walls.
Effective Patterns:#20-22 Mercury Midge, #20-22 Manhattan Midge, #20 Pale Olive Midge Larva, #22-24 Black Beauty, #22-24 Bling Midge, #22-24 Top Secret Midge, #22-24 Minute Midge, #22-24 Jujubee Midge, #22-24 Matt’s Midge, #22-24 Griffith Gnat, and #24-26 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.