Cheesman Canyon
Rob Herrmann Photography

South Platte River: Cheesman Canyon

Difficulty Advanced
Ideal Days To Fish 6/21, 6/24 & 6/27

Weekly Report

Report DateJune 17, 2021

Cheesman Canyon is fishing well right now with healthy flows (203 cfs) and ample bug activity. UV Scuds have been the hottest pattern since flows increased and should absolutely have a spot on your nymph rig. Along with scuds, there are plenty of stoneflies, caddis larva, worms and leeches churning in the water. As far as hatch activity goes, we’re seeing sporadic midge hatches during the morning and evening, caddis between 11 am and 2 pm and BWOs during the afternoon. PMDs are starting to hatch in the lower sections of Deckers but should make their way into the canyon over the next week or two. Surface activity during hatches has been hit or miss but if you see rising trout, take full advantage. Parachute Adams, Sparkle Duns, All-Season Caddis and Elk Hair Caddis are good patterns to have on hand. If trout are sipping below the surface or feeding in shallow water along a bank, trail a pupa/emerger pattern. Other than that, nymphing will be the most productive approach. Lead with one of the larger patterns mentioned above and trail a midge pupa during the morning and evening. During the middle of the day, it’ll be a toss-up between caddis pupa and baetis emergers. Keep an eye on hatch activity and react accordingly.

Recommended Flies

River Flow

Flow Region

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.