Cheesman Canyon
Rob Herrmann Photography

South Platte River: Cheesman Canyon

Difficulty Advanced
Ideal Days To Fish 10/20, 10/21 & 10/22

Weekly Report

Report DateOct. 14, 2021

Flows have held steady at 150 cfs for the past four days, allowing trout to adjust to reduced flows. With that said, flows have increased by 100 cfs on Thursday/Friday the past two weeks, so we wouldn’t be surprised if we see a similar bump today or tomorrow. Assuming flows hold steady, anglers will want to focus on softer water with nymph rigs or dry droppers. Trout were extra spooky this week when it came to the nymph rig. If you notice this, switch to a yarn indicator and lead the trout a little more than normal to avoid disturbing the water directly in front of them. If that doesn’t work, consider ditching your indicator and sight nymphing or switch to a dry double dropper. Trout have been responding to Griffiths Gnats, Parachute Adams, Parachute BWOs and Elk Hair Caddis during midge, BWO and caddis hatches but you’ll find that nymphs do the most consistent damage. Small midge and baetis patterns such as Miracle Nymphs, Blood Midges, Black Beauties, Jujubee Midges, Chocolate Foam Back Emergers, JuJu Baetis, RS2s and Barr’s Emergers were top producers earlier this week. We’re also starting to see trout warm up to larger offerings now that flows have stabilized. Think Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, Buckskin Caddis, olive leeches, scuds etc.

Recommended Flies

River Flow

Flow Region
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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.

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.