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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: 7/16/2024

Current Conditions: 

  The flows continue to slowly drop down to more seasonal averages. Flows are at 350 this morning and the river has been fishing great. One thing to keep in mind here is that all of the releases from Cheesman reservoir are coming from the bottom valve in the dam. This has kept the water temps really cold in the canyon and downstream. Keep this in mind if you are planning on wet wading. Water temps are in the 40's each morning and only warming into the upper low 50's. These colder temps have tamped down the hatches a bit and its basically back to the standard smaller bugs right now. Things have gotten a lot more technical, but the angler can still mix in some larger food sources.  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 should also be improving with the drop in flows.

Tactics: 

For Nymphing- Depth and weight will be very important right now. This will be more important to get dialed in. Stay persistent and adjust your rig. Focus should be back in the seams, riffles, and runs. This will be more important than what flies you are fishing. 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.  Fish are spread out more and occupying all parts of the river. Look for fish to occupy the usual places now that the flows have come down a bit.  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-  After an extremely hot period of weather, we will see things cool off a bit and return to near average for this time of year. Daily rain chances will also increase significantly this week. This is a welcome sign with the higher water temps we are seeing in the lake. Temps will be in the mid 70's to mid 80's with chances of rain around noon each day. This is a typical pattern we see this time of year and really marks the start of our "monsoon season".

Long Term-  Looking past this coming week, it appears we will see more of the same. Monsoon season typically arrives about this time of the year. Longer range forecasts are pointing at at least a couple weeks of this pattern. After the extreme heat we are hoping these daily storms follow through. As we hit mid summer the focus will be on the severity of wildfire season. These storms will help mitigate this. Forecast trends are pointing at some drier conditions in the August timeframe, but we will have to wait and see how that develops.

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:

  • Foamback emerger, grey. black, sizes 20-22
  • Sparkle pupa, tan, size 16
  • Stalcup baeitis, olive, size 22
  • Graphic Caddis, tan, sizes 16-18
  • Slapshot scud, orange, size 16
  • San Juan worm, brown, sizes 14-16

Our Top Dry Flies for Today: 

  • Mole Fly, brown. Size 22 
  • Vis a dun, black, size 20
  • 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