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Where to Go South Platte River – Cheesman Canyon

Current Reports

Updated 10/25/2021

Check out our Fall fishing forecast here!

 The flows came up last week because the North fork had to be shut down for repairs. We were able to enjoy about 5 days of really nice flows. These flows are already coming down (The North fork is back on) and will be set at 100 cfs for the foreseeable future.

 The fall BWO's are ruling the hatches right now, with some sporadic tricos. There are some great hatches and nymphing, dry fly fishing, dry/dropper, and streamers are all working.

 The canyon is super technical, and will remain that way through the winter months.   The angler willing to move around and switch up techniques will find a lot of success.  Small bugs and light tippet is the name of the game right now.

BWO and Tricos are ruling the morning hatches. Fish are eyeing hard on mayfly imitations both subsurface and on top of the water.  The water is being released from the bottom valve in the dam and the water is surprisingly cold. That will slightly change the bug activity.

Cheesman has been extremely busy. Most weekend days the parking lot is full. Remember this: If you arrive and there are no spots left in the parking lot, don't park on the road. You will get a ticket!

Recommended Patterns


Mayer's Mini leach in black or brown #14-18, Orange or olive UV Scuds #14-16, Cranefly Larva, Pat's Rubber Legs brown/black olive/brown black #10-14, San Juan Worms all colors #12,
Miracle Midge #18-24, Top Secret Midge #20-24, Flux Capacitors, Black Beauties #20-24, Blindside Midge #20-22, Money Midge #20-22, Buckskin Caddis #16-20, Red Midge Larva #18-22, Mercury Midge #20-24, Rainbow Warriors #18-22 Jujubee Midge #18-26. Caddis Candy #16-18, Graphic Caddis tan and olive #14-16, Juan's Sniper Baetis #20-24, Juan's Jedi Master #20-24, Pheasant Tail #18-22, RS2 grey and black #18-22, Cheesman Emergers #20-22, Barr's PMD Emergers #16-18, Foam Back Emergers chocolate #20-22, Stalcups Baetis brown and olive #20-22


Mole Fly #20-24, Neils BWO #20-22, Almost Dun #20, Juans 180 Trico #20, Mayer's Tails-up Trico #20-22, Griffiths Gnat #20-26, Matts Midge #22-24, Comparadun #20-22, Vis-a-dun black #20-22


It's not a bad idea to lug the streamer rod along with you. While you won't turn a ton of fish with the meat, the ones you do will likely be worth it. Lighter colors and naturals have seemed to be the color in recent weeks. Dont be afraid to mix it up!

Cheesman Canyon is one of the most technical and rewarding tailwater fisheries in Colorado. A half-hour hike from Gill trailhead through some hilly terrain gets you to the base of the canyon where the trail splits into a high road and low road. This stretch of the river is catch and release only and is known for holding large rainbows. Almost the entire length of the river that runs through this gorgeous boulder-filled canyon is loaded with deep pocket water and fast runs that provide different challenges depending on where the fish are located. Most of the time the fish are hanging close to undercut boulders and other structure.

Before going to Cheesman, load your box with these patterns: Cheesman Emergers #22-24, Amy's Ants #10-14, hoppers #8-10, Murphy's Bubbleback Midge #20-24, Blindside Midges #20-22, Dorsey's Top Secret and Medallion Midges #22-24, Stonefly nymphs #14-18, Caddis larva #16-20, Tan and orange scuds #14-18, Sparkle Wing RS-2's #18-22, BWO Barr's Emergers #20-22, Copper Johns, Black Beauty #22-24, and Stalcups baetis #20-22.

This is an area we specialize in and are permitted to guide in, so give us a shout if you have any questions or if you're interested in working with one of our Orvis- Endorsed guides to conquer Cheesman.

My favorite stretch of the South Platte. What can I say: technical, challenging, humbling, and rewarding. It is often said that if you can catch fish in Cheesman Canyon, you can catch fish anywhere.

Jon Easdon, Guide and Director of Services

Accessibility: There is a 1.5 mile trail from the parking lot on Co 126 to the river.  At the river the trail splits into a high and a low section that runs approximately 5 miles upstream from the Wigwam Club (posted) to Cheesman Dam.

Elevation: 6,600 ft

Distance: 42.5 miles from Colorado Springs / 55 minutes .

Season: Fishable all year depending on flows

Fish species: Brown, Rainbow, Cutthroat and Cutbow trout

Fishing Regulations: Catch and release, flies and lures only

Techniques & Tips: Fishing is technical and calls for 9-12 foot leaders and  fine tippets - 5X to 6X

Camping: Not in the canyon, though there is camping nearby at Lone Pine and Wigwam Campgrounds on Co 126.

Kids: Yes, but parts of the trail going down to the river can be very steep.

Additional Information: Cheesman Canyon can be crowded, especially in the summer.  The further upstream you walk, the fewer crowds you will encounter.

South Platte River – Cheesman Canyon.

Interested in Booking a Trip?

Directions - 42.8 miles - 55 Minutes

  1. From Angler's Covey head west on US 24 W/Cimarron St, go 16.7 miles
  2. Turn right at CO-67 towards Deckers, go 23.1 miles
  3. Slight left at the town of Deckers and CoRd 126, go 3.0 miles
  4. Parking area is on the left