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About Cheesman Canyon

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.

Flash Flood Update: No news is good news as they say! Not much new to report on the substrate damage that occurred from the flash flood on July 31, 2023. Many of the deep holes and classic riffle, run, and pool-tailouts are clogged with decomposed granite and other debris, reducing the trout’s habit. The biggest concern is the insect choking sediments that are effecting the hatches. Only time will tell on the long term effects pertaining to this horrible act of nature. What we need is a huge snow pack to help clear out the decomposed granite that filled in so many of the famous holes. The good news is the fish seem to be doing just fine. The rainbows look great and they are chunky and feisty. The brown on the other hand, are very skinny, but that is not uncommon during the early spring months. The brown trout should put on some weight as soon as the blue-winged olives start hatching. If the hatches come off like “like normal” I will feel better about things. But, there is still such a huge loss of habitat and the river is changed forever. I think it’s gonna get worse before it gets better. Once the river levels rise, the leading edges of the sediment slides will be shave off and get swept in the drift. But for now, things are stable with the exception of the holes being filled in…

Latest Report

Revised 4/7/24
Cheesman Reservoir is at 89 percent capacity which is great news. Currently the outflow from Cheesman Dam is 120 cfs. Plan on reliable hatches of midges throughout the day. Once a hatch becomes evident, look for the trout to move into the transitional zones to feed. Fishing pupae imitations mid-column has been bringing several nice fish to hand lately. We are also seeing lots of the big spring midge. The afternoon is bringing some excellent blue-winged olive hatches which is a sure sign that spring has arrived. 

Seasonal Hatches and Tips

In spring, Cheesman Canyon offers exciting fly fishing opportunities as the water warms up and insect activity increases. Here are some effective fly patterns to consider for fishing in Cheesman Canyon during the spring:

Blue-Winged Olives (BWOs): These may hatch sporadically in spring. Carry patterns like Parachute Adams, Sparkle Duns, or Pheasant Tails in sizes #18 to #22 to imitate BWOs.

Midges: Midges are prevalent year-round, but their activity may increase in spring. Use patterns like Zebra Midges, RS2s (Rim's Semblance 2), Mercury Midges, or Disco Midges in sizes ranging from #18 to #24.

Stoneflies: Stonefly nymphs become more active as the weather warms up. Carry patterns like Pat's Rubber Legs, Hare's Ear Nymphs, or Prince Nymphs in sizes #10 to #14.

Caddisflies: Caddis activity increases as temperatures rise. Patterns like Elk Hair Caddis, X-Caddis, or Stimulators in sizes #14 to #18 can be effective imitations.

Attractor Patterns: Bright and flashy attractor patterns like San Juan Worms, Egg Patterns, or Rainbow Warriors can be effective in catching the attention of fish, especially during runoff periods.
Streamers: Larger fish might respond to streamers, particularly if the water is high and off-color due to runoff. Woolly Buggers, Sculpin patterns, and other streamers in various sizes and colors can attract larger fish.

As always, observe the water conditions, insect activity, and the behavior of the fish to determine the most effective patterns and presentations. Adjust your techniques throughout the day as conditions change.

Our shop staff and guides at The Blue Quill Angler are very familiar with Cheesman Canyon and can provide specific insights into recent hatches, successful patterns, and techniques tailored for spring fishing in the canyon. They often have firsthand knowledge that can greatly enhance your fishing experience.

Weather
Suggested Flies
Pat Dorsey's Uv Scud - Orange - ( UMPQUA)
Pat Dorsey's Uv Scud - Orange - ( UMPQUA)

Pat Dorsey's Uv Scud - Orange - ( UMPQUA)

$2.25
Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs
Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs
Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs
Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs
Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs
Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs

Jiggy Pat's Rubber Legs

$3.25
San Juan Worm
San Juan Worm
San Juan Worm
San Juan Worm

San Juan Worm

$2.00
Flossy Worm - ( SOLITUDE FLY) - Blue Quill Angler
Flossy Worm - ( SOLITUDE FLY) - Blue Quill Angler
Flossy Worm - ( SOLITUDE FLY) - Blue Quill Angler
Flossy Worm - ( SOLITUDE FLY) - Blue Quill Angler
Flossy Worm - ( SOLITUDE FLY) - Blue Quill Angler
Flossy Worm - ( SOLITUDE FLY) - Blue Quill Angler

Flossy Worm - ( SOLITUDE FLY) - Blue Quill Angler

$2.00
Buckskin - ( SOLITUDE FLY) - Blue Quill Angler
Buckskin - ( SOLITUDE FLY) - Blue Quill Angler

Buckskin - ( SOLITUDE FLY) - Blue Quill Angler

$2.25
CDC Rainbow Warrior - Tungsten
CDC Rainbow Warrior - Tungsten

CDC Rainbow Warrior - Tungsten

$2.65
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