Overall River Rating:


Cheesman Canyon Fly Fishing Report

Latest Update, 3/29/16- Cheesman Canyon is one of our favorite year-round fisheries. While the deep 'aquarium holes' are holding a lot of fish right now, focus on the shallow shelves, drop offs, tailouts and rock gardens adjacent to these deeper areas. The fish that decide to move shallow are typically in a much better mood to feed and are much easier to effectively target. As is always the case with this place, think tiny flies and light tippets. Eggs and worms are still catching a few fish but the shop favorite point fly lately has been a gray or tan scud (sz 14-18). Midges and baetis patterns (size 18-24) work great as a trailer.

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's 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 or more to get to the more productive sections. Once in the canyon, cover ground and try to target individual feeding fish.