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Pat Dorsey’s Fishing Report: Cheesman Canyon – South Platte

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.

Current Conditions 

Clarity: Excellent

Water Temperature: Low 40’s

14 Day Forecast:  Look for hatches of midges, sporadic caddis, golden stoneflies, craneflies, PMD’s and blue-winged olives.

Tips and Other Information: Cheesman Canyon is fishing tough right now with the recent drop in flow. Cheesman Reservoir is extremely low (58,000 acre feet) so look for low flows for the remainder of the year. Denver Water is gonna leave the Roberts Tunnel on this winter (so that means lower flows on the South Fork), so look for flows to range between 50-100 cfs for most of the autumn and winter season. Anglers can expect to see a good a.m. midge bite, followed by mid day mayflay hatches. First the Tricos come off, followed by some blue winged olives. Go-to bugs have been size 20 Jujubaetis, size 22 Stalcup’s Baetis, and a size 22 Foam Wing Emerger. You’ll find plenty of rising fish if you target the right water and really look for them. Crowds have been very heavy as of late…

Effective Patterns:  #20-22 Jujubaetis, #22 Stalcup’s Baetis, #20 Smith’s Baetis, #20-22 Mercury Midge, #20 Mitchell’s Split Case Baetis, #20 Barr Flashback Emerger, #20-22 Manhattan Midge, #20-22 Mercury Flashback RS 2, #20-22 Sparkle Wing RS 2, #20-22 Mathew’s Sparkle Dun (BWO), #24 CDC Biot Trico Comparadun, #22 Matt’s Midge.

Pat Dorsey’s Fishing Report – Cheesman Canyon – South Platte River

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.

Current Conditions 

Flow: 118 cfs

Clarity: Excellent

Water Temperature: Low to mid 40’s

Hatches: Midges and blue-winged olives

14 Day Forecast:  Look for good hatches of midges and blue-winged olives. ​

Tips and Other Information:  Denver Water continues to hold back water in an effort to fill Cheesman Reservoir.  Look for flows to remain between 75-125 cfs for another couple weeks.  Currently the lake is still 4,000 acre feet from the top (about 95% full).  My guess is Cheesman Dam will spill normally during the first part of May. For the meantime, my recomendation is to concentrate your efforts in the transitional zones that drop off into the deeper runs.   In the a.m., flies of choice have been #22 Mercury Midges, #24 Black Beauties, and #24 Top Secret Midges. When you visually see the “big” spring midge coming off, adjust your tactics and techniques to match the hatch. A  size 18 pupa trailed by smaller pupa is what I recommend. Make sure you drift your pupa mid column! 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.