Overall River Rating:


Cheesman Canyon Fly Fishing Report

Latest Update: 5/12/16- Spring flows have arrived at Cheesman and should continue throughout the next month or so. With the higher, dirtier water, the fish should be moving up tight to the banks and structure. Focus on the banks and on structure that breaks the current. The “worm hatch” up the canyon can provide some very eventful days on the water so don’t count out the good ol’ San Juan. Other productive patterns are scuds (size 14-18), cranefly larva (size 2-10), stonefly nymphs (size 8-12), and caddis larva (size 10-16). Use heavier tippets and larger split shot to get your bugs down to feeding fish.

River Information

Cheesman Canyon is without a doubt one of the prettiest places you could hope to fish in the Rockies- all while being just over an hour from Denver. This tailwater, fed by Cheesman Reservoir, is one of the most technical rivers in the state to fish, however can also be one of the most rewarding. A sight fisherman's paradise, Cheesman grows some very large trout and is home to a wide variety of aquatic insect life.  Aside from the fishing, the scenery, wildlife, and sheer grandeur of the canyon is worth the trip alone. This stretch of river is known for its large Rainbow trout, however holds a good population of nice brown trout as well. It typically runs crystal clear. Cheesman Canyon sees a considerable amount of pressure and a successful angler here will need light tippets, small flies, long leaders and fair bit of stealth. This three mile long canyon is strictly catch and release.


Current Recommended Patterns:  

By Season:

  • Winter/spring: Midges, Baetis
  • Summer: Mayflies, Stoneflies, Terrestrials, Caddis, Tricos
  • FallMayflies, some Caddis, Terrestrials, Midges

Seasonal Conditions

Cheesman Canyon can be fished year round, as could be expected though, Spring through Fall will yield the most bug activity. Dry fly fishing can be had year round, starting with midges/baetis in the spring. By summer, the canyon will see caddis, a variety of mayflies, tricos, stoneflies and terrestrials. Sight fishing dry flies can put fish in the net, however nymphing will be your best bet for numbers of fish throughout the year. Autumn in the canyon will see an increase in midges, as well as some mayflies and caddis still hanging around. 

Winter fishing can be productive in the canyon, however anglers should use caution when taking on this endeavor- and possibly avoid going alone if possible. The terrain can get decently steep in places and treking though snow and ice in frozen waders and boots isn't always the easiest, or safest, combination. 

River Access

Cheesman Canyon sits just a few miles west of the town of Deckers, on CR 26. Park at the Gill Trailhead and get ready to hike. Anglers should be prepared to hike in at least 30 minutes or more to get to the more productive sections. Once in the canyon, cover ground and try to target individual feeding fish.