Cheesman Canyon
Rob Herrmann Photography

South Platte River: Cheesman Canyon

Difficulty Advanced
Ideal Days To Fish 9/24, 9/26 & 9/27

Weekly Report

Report DateSept. 22, 2022

Cheesman Canyon flows decreased by roughly 100 cfs late last week but have held steady at 190 cfs since. Flows are a little below the ideal flow but trout still have plenty of room to spread out. With that said, trout are on high alert and precise presentations are key. Trout are currently favoring deeper sections of the river such as pronounced pools, runs, pockets and shelves. Trout will slide into transitions and riffles during hatches but other than that, trout are stacking up in deeper water. Midge and trico patterns are bringing trout to the surface during the low light hours. The PMD hatch is dwindling but still producing a few bugs during the late morning. The BWO hatch is getting stronger and enticing trout to feed on the surface between 12 pm and 2 pm. Other than that, caddis and hopper patterns will attract opportunistic trout. While we are still seeing good results from dry flies, nymph rigs are the most reliable setup. Flashback Pheasant Tails, Buckskin Caddis, JuJu Baetis, Zebra Midges and Pale Ale Midges are good options for a lead fly. Below one of those patterns, Mercury Black Beauties, Top Secrets, black/olive RS2s, Chocolate Foam Back Emergers and Stalcup’s Baetis will attract plenty of attention. Scuds, leeches and worms are good patterns to have on hand should you need a little extra help getting the trout’s attention.

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.