Cheesman Canyon
Rob Herrmann Photography

South Platte River: Cheesman Canyon

Difficulty Advanced
Ideal Days To Fish 12/1, 12/3 & 12/4

Weekly Report

Report DateNov. 24, 2022

Cheesman Canyon flows have held just below 100 cfs for the past 10 days. Stable flows and warmer air temps this week have been great for the fishing but don’t expect these trout to come easily. These trout tend to become very selective this time of year and cycling through a number of patterns before dialing it in isn’t uncommon. Bead Head and Mercury Flashback Pheasant Tails have been productive lead patterns. Along with Pheasant Tails; red Copper Johns, Perdigons, eggs, JuJu Baetis, Bling Midges, and Blood Midges are solid lead options. Midge pupa such as Top Secrets, Mercury Midges, Jujubee Midges and Mercury Black Beauties have been hot in the trailer position. Thanks to warmer weather, baetis emergers are receiving more attention and should replace your midge trailer during the early afternoon. The canyon receives little sunlight throughout the day and while it’s contradictory to summer tactics, the sections that receive ample sunlight tend to hold the most active trout. These sections will also produce the strongest hatches. If you find yourself in a midge or BWO hatch and don’t see rising trout, either fish a light weight nymph rig with a pupa/emerger trailer or explore the canyon until you find a stretch with rising trout. For some reason, there are a handful of stretches in this canyon that produce more surface activity than others. Trout are stacked up in deep pools, soft runs and large pockets but don’t overlook slow riffles and transitions during hatches.

Recommended Flies

River Flow

Flow Region

Detailed River Info


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.


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.