Cheesman Canyon
Rob Herrmann Photography

South Platte River: Cheesman Canyon

Difficulty Advanced
Ideal Days To Fish 2/3, 2/4 & 2/5

Weekly Report

Report DateFeb. 2, 2023

Cheesman Canyon flows were at a sweet spot until Tuesday. Now that flows have dropped, trout are spookier and more selective. Your time is best spent fishing deep pools, soft runs, slack water and seams along gravel beds. Double or triple nymph rigs with ample weight are ideal for reaching trout holding deep in the water column. Absent a midge hatch, this is where trout spend their time to conserve energy. During the morning hours, our go-to setup is either a double nymph rig with two midge larva patterns (flashy lead pattern, imitative trailer) or a triple nymph setup with an attractor (scud, Mini Leech, perdigon) followed by two midge larva patterns. As temperatures rise in the late morning/afternoon, midge activity will increase. Trout key in on midge pupa and comfortably feed closer to the surface. Manhattan Midges, Blue Poison Tungs, Massacre Midges, Top Secrets and Mercury Midges are solid trailer patterns in this situation. Targeting trout in tailouts with a weightless rig was particularly effective for us last weekend. Slow riffles and transitions will regain popularity over the weekend when afternoon air temps rise into the 40’s. Making a few drifts through riffles and transitions as you move to a new section is a great way to find actively feeding trout that have their guard down.

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.