Report Date: November 14, 2023
Class is back in session in Cheesman Canyon. Nothing comes easy in the “canyon” this time of year…you’ll earn every fish you catch. It’s time to concentrate your efforts in the slow, deep pools where trout overwinter. Trailing two midge patterns (one larva and one pupa) off an attractor is a great strategy for this time of year. Late afternoon often brings out some surface feeders in areas like the Family Hole and Ice Box, so make sure you bring plenty of surface offerings to imitate newly hatched midges.
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.
In winter, fishing in Deckers and Cheesman Canyon can be challenging but rewarding.
The key is to focus on smaller, more precise presentations, as fish tend to be more lethargic in colder water temperatures.
Here are some effective fly patterns to consider for Deckers/Cheesman Canyon in winter:
Midges: They're a staple in winter fly fishing. Sizes #18 to #24 in black, brown, olive, or red colors work well. Patterns like Zebra Midges, RS2s (Rim's Semblance 2), and Mercury Midges can be effective.
Blue-Winged Olives (BWOs): These can hatch even in colder months. Sizes #18 to #24 in patterns like Sparkle Duns, Parachute Adams, or Pheasant Tails can imitate BWOs.
Small Stoneflies and Caddis: In smaller sizes (#16 to #20), these can also be effective. Patterns like WD-40s, RS2s, or small Hare's Ear Nymphs can mimic them. Scuds and Sowbugs: These are consistent food sources for fish in winter. Sizes #16 to #20 in gray, tan, or olive colors are good choices.
Streamers: Occasionally, larger fish might be enticed by streamers. Try smaller patterns like woolly buggers or leech patterns in natural colors, fishing them slowly and enticingly.
Always be prepared to adjust based on the specific conditions on the river. It's essential to present the flies naturally and drift them in a way that mimics the slow movement of winter insects or smaller aquatic creatures.
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.