Cheesman Canyon
Rob Herrmann Photography

South Platte River: Cheesman Canyon

Difficulty Advanced
Ideal Days To Fish 2/22, 2/23 & 2/28

Weekly Report

Report DateFeb. 25, 2021
Cheesman Canyon is running low and fishing is technical. These trout are about as smart as they come and low flows (42 cfs) don’t make them any easier to fool. It may look silly, but taking a knee or casting behind a boulder to avoid being seen by trout is a great tactic right now. Minimizing surface disturbance and using roll casts will also help. Despite low flows, ample split shot is still recommended to get your flies into the deepest water column, quickly. Unless you’re fishing during an active midge hatch or see trout suspended in the river, fishing the deepest water column will put your flies in front of the most trout. Scuds, Mini Leeches, Mercury Pheasant Tails, Frenchies and Rainbow Warriors are great attractor patterns right now when trout aren’t responding to micro nymph rigs. Dead drifting and slowly stripping streamers through soft pools will also turn heads in the right conditions. When fishing a double midge setup, lead with a midge larva and trail a midge pupa. Blood Midges, Bling Midges, Miracle Nymphs, Mercury Black Beauties, Jujubee Midges and Top Secrets are great midge patterns to have on hand.

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.