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 hangin close to undercut boulders and other structure.
Before going to Cheesman, load your box with: Cheesman Emergers 22-24, Amy's Ants 10-14, hoppers 8-10, Murphy's Bubbleback Midge 20-24, Kleis' Mojo Midge 20-24, Dorsey's Top Secret and Medallion Midges 22-24, San Juan Worms 12-14, Apricot Eggs 12-16, Tan Scuds, Sparkle Wing RS-2's, Bwo Barr's Emergers 20-22, Copper Johns, Black Beauty 22-24.
This is an area we specialize in, so give us a shot if you have any question or if you interested in allowing on of our Orvis Endorsed Guides show you how best 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 ile 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
Fly patterns: Hopper patterns, Elk Hair Caddis, Amy’s Ant, Yellow Humpies, Beadhead droppers.
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.
Boating Requirement: NA
Additional Information: Cheesman Canyon can be crowded, especially in the Summer. The further upstream you walk, the fewer crowds you will encounter.
Suggested Products: (Map pics below need to match area)
National Geographic Map
Colorado Atlas & Gazette
View South Platte River - Cheesman Canyon in a larger map
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Orvis 101 Introduction to Fly Fishing
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