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Where to Go South Platte River – Cheesman Canyon

Current Reports

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Summer Hours: 6AM TO 6PM DAILY

 

 

Report Date: 7/11/2024

Current Conditions: 

  Just like other places on the South Platte, we are seeing the flows start to decrease in the canyon. Albeit they are coming down a little slower than some other locations. Current flows are at 650 and dropping. While these flows are still on the high side, the fishing has been decent. The big news here is that all of the water coming from Cheesman is from the bottom valve. This is putting some very cold water into the river. Water temps are in the 40's and have slowed down a lot of bug activity. Things have gotten a lot more technical. With all downstream water demand coming from Cheesman for the time being, we do expect the flows out of Cheesman to fluctuate pretty good through summer.

 Hatch specific bugs should always be a focus here. Dont be afraid to start throwing those 20-24 sized patterns again. It has been extremely busy in the canyon recently. Keep in mind that the farther up the canyon you hike, the less people you will see.

Cheesman reservoir is currently 100% full

Hatches: 

  As usual for this time of year, Midges, BWO's, caddis, and even some PMD's are the staples. With the higher flows, pretty much all of the activity has been subsurface. Dry fly fishing just isnt the best method right now, but you may still see some opportunity in the slack parts of the river.

Tactics: 

For Nymphing- Depth and weight will be very important right now. This will be harder to dial in with the larger flows. Stay persistent and adjust your rig. Focus right on the rivers edge and fish places you normally would not. This will be more important than what flies you are fishing. Focus on the edges of the river as most fish will get out of the main channels at these flows. This can also be a great time of year to throw some streamers.

Tips: 

 Be cautious if you are wet wading. The water is COLD. Be mobile and move around for the most success. Its pretty much impossible to cross the river at these flows, so be prepared to be relegated to the trail side of the river. Fish are spread out more and occupying all parts of the river. Look for fish to occupy the edges of the river and in the softer seams. Nymphing will be the most productive method at this time, but your fly location (depth) will be the biggest factor in success.

Weather:

Short Term-  We are entering an extremely hot period of weather over the next several days. We could see record high temperatures in this area. Mid 90's will be common over the next 4 days. A rogue storm could pop up, but for the most part rain chances are also slim during this time. The wind conditions do look great though.

Long Term-  Looking past this coming weekend, we will cool down a bit and return to more seasonal average temps. Rain chances also increase after the weekend and we will need some precipitation after this upcoming hot weather. Temps will return to the 80's next week. Any storms should happen in the afternoons and some of them could be severe. Its always a good idea to watch both the weather forecasts this time of the year. In the longer term, some forecasts are pointing to sustained hot and drier weather. This could be the start of wildfire season here in Colorado. Please be responsible!

Run Off update-

After about 5 weeks of extremely high flows all over the state, we are finally starting to see things on most rivers return to normal. This runoff season was one for the books.

  • Something to note here- With the delicate nature of the soils in the canyon, heavy rain can cause sudden flash floods. This can be a scary situation if you are in the canyon when this is happening. Pay attention to the forecast and get out of the canyon if there is heavy rain.

This is an area we offer guided fly fishing trips. We are one of two outfitters permitted to operate in Cheesman. There is not better way to learn an area like Cheesman Canyon than hiring one of our Orvis endorsed professional guides!

RECOMMENDED PATTERNS 

For a custom fly assortment for this location, click here! 

Our Top 6 Nymphs for Today:

  • Twisted Crane, sizes 10-14
  • Radiation baetis, size 18
  • Stalcup baeitis, olive, size 22
  • Graphic Caddis, tan, sizes 16-18
  • Slapshot scud, orange, size 16
  • Caddis Candy, sizes 14-16

Our Top Dry Flies for Today: Not all that good right now

  • Mole Fly, brown. Size 22 
  • Neil's BWO, green. Sizes 22 & 24
  • Matt's Midge, black. Size 22
  • Sparkle dun PMD, sizes 16-18
  • Elk Hair caddis, sizes 14-18

Our Top Streamer Patterns for Today:

    • Wooly Buggers, black, green, brown, Natural. Sizes 12-8
    • Baby Gonga, brown, grey. Size 6
    • Zoo Cougar, Olive. Size 6

 

Standard nymph rig set up for the South Platte:

Screenshot the diagram above to reference while you're out on the water!

 

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT OUR "WHERE TO GO" PAGE FOR DETAILED INFORMATION ON OTHER AREAS!

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