Cheesman Canyon
Rob Herrmann Photography

South Platte River: Cheesman Canyon

Difficulty Advanced
Ideal Days To Fish 10/28, 10/29 & 10/31

Weekly Report

Report DateOct. 20, 2021

Cheesman Canyon flows are on the move again, increasing by roughly 200 cfs yesterday. Trout will be difficult to locate and dial in over the next couple of days due to the change in flows, but we should see them settle in over the weekend. Scuds and other large patterns (worms, caddis larva, leeches and searchers) will hot lead flies on a nymph rig. These larger patterns will encourage takes and if they don’t, they will get the trout’s attention and your trailer will seal the deal. Mercury Midges, Black Beauties, Top Secrets, WD-40s, Rojo Midges, RS2s, Darth Baetis and Stalcup’s Baetis have been our top trailers. Pay close attention to your depth right now. Unless you can see feeding trout, start with enough split shot or tungsten bead nymphs to get your flies into the deepest water column. If that doesn’t work, gradually decrease your weight to cover the middle and upper columns until you find success. Repeat this process before changing patterns. Dry flies will take a back seat the next couple of days until trout normalize to the new flow, but once they do, surface activity will improve. Griffiths Gnats, Parachute Adams, Parachute BWOs and Elk Hair Caddis are good patterns to have on hand.

Recommended Flies

River Flow

Flow Region
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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.