South Platte: Cheesman Canyon

Weekly Overview:

December 2, 2019: 

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  • Technicality: 4/5

  • Flows through Cheesman Canyon are healthy and fishing has been productive. The canyon is gorgeous this time of year and the hike in is a great way to warm up. There are three words you should remember when fishing the canyon right now: stealthy, slow and small. With gin clear water and lower flows, trout are skittish and spook easily. Fishing from a knee or behind a boulder is a great way to avoid spooking trout. When selecting water, look for slow sections that provide trout with little resistance. In terms of flies, small should be your default. Midge larva/pupa patterns in size #22-26 and baetis in size #22 are the most consistent right now. If you’re not seeing results, scuds and leeches are great slumpbusters. Lead with one of those patterns and trail one or two midge/baetis nymphs behind it. 

  • Ideal Days to Fish: Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday

  • Suggested Flies:

    • Sub-surface: RS2 (#20-22), Barr's Emerger (#20-22), Chocolate Thunder (#20-22), JuJu Baetis (#20-22), Mercury Pheasant Tail (#20-22), WD 40 (#20-22), Mercury Midge (#22-24), Black Beauty (#22-26), Zebra Midge (#20-24), Blood Midge (#20-22), Disco Midge (#20-22), Guides Choice Hares Ear (#16-18), red Copper John (#18-20), Rainbow Warrior (#18-20), egg patterns, pink/green scud, leech pattern and San Juan Worm.

    • Surface: Parachute Adams (#22-24), Griffiths Gnat (#20-22) and Chubby Chernobyl (#10-12).

      • Need flies for your trip? FlyCast has collaborated with our friends at Anglers All ​to package a dozen flies that are hot in Cheesman Canyon right now - Click here for hand selected flies

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Cheesman.png
Credit: Colorado Division of Water Resources
Deckers Weather.png
Weather Provided by Weather Underground

Detailed River Info:

Background:

The Cheesman Canyon stretch of the South Platte River is arguably one of the most popular and beautiful tail water fisheries in the state. This stretch sits directly below Cheesman Reservoir, which provides for great water clarity and quality fishing year round. While you might think the 1.5-mile hike to the river would detract anglers, the canyon experiences heavy crowds all days of the week, morning, noon and night. Due to the heavy fishing pressure that the canyon receives, the trout are spooky and difficult to catch, but don’t worry, your efforts will be strongly rewarded with large resident Browns and Rainbows. Cheesman Canyon was the first section of river in Colorado to be designated as catch and release only. Therefore, if you land your dream trout snap a quick picture for bragging rights and quickly release it back to the water.

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Angling:

Cheesman Canyon is known as one of the most technical fisheries in the state and arguably the country. We have heard time and time again that if you can catch a fish in the canyon, you can catch a fish anywhere. Due to the high fishing pressure and clear water, anglers must be stealthy in their approach and precise with their casts. To be successful, we encourage anglers to use light tippet (no larger than 5x), long leaders and delicate strike indicators. Reckless casts and sloppy presentations won’t be rewarded here. While the canyon boasts some incredible dry fly fishing opportunities, the most consistent form is nymphing with flies in size #20 -#24. Cheesman is also famous for subtle takes, so sight fish whenever possible and keep a close eye on the opening of the trout’s mouth. If you’re able to achieve this, you’ll be in for a productive day.

  

River Access:

Cheesman Canyon can be accessed by two trailheads. The most popular trail head is the Gill Trailhead that is located 3 miles from the town of Deckers off CO Rd 126. From Denver, take Highway 285 south towards Pine Junction. Once you’ve hit Pine Junction, take CO Rd 126 south towards Deckers for roughly 21 miles. You will see the trailhead on your right with a parking lot full of anglers and hikers. The second option is to drive up a dirt road to Cheesman reservoir. Less than a half mile past the Gill Trailhead, turn onto CO Rd 211 and follow this road until you hit the reservoir. The road will dead-end but will have plenty of space to pull off and park. There is a trail sign at the start of the trailhead where anglers can begin a 30 – 45 minute to fish the top section of the canyon.

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