Fishing in Cheesman Canyon is a must do for anyone visiting the Denver, Boulder, or Colorado Springs area of Colorado. In this article, we will go over the river system, recommended flies, a map of the river, nearby guides, regulations and more. You’ll have everything you need to get fishing on this section of the South Platte River. With this river being heavily fished by other anglers, you are going to come across some really picky fish, but there is a lot of them, and they tend to be of a healthy size.
River Map & Access
Below you will find all major points of Cheesman Canyon. Message us if you want more added! This doesn’t have the best fishing holes in it, just general points and public access. Through a couple parking lots (that fill up quickly), anglers will have access to the whole canyon, but walking is necessary to reach the river and walk up and down it.
The Gill trail goes along Cheesman Canyon which provides anglers great walking access to all of the best sections of the river. You can see the map below.
Hiking Into Cheesman Canyon:
From Lower Canyon Trailhead To River: .75 miles (140 feet of elevation gain and 211 feet of elevation loss)
From Upper Canyon Trailhead To River: 1.8 miles (310 feet of elevation gain and 570 feet of elevation loss)
We also have a map here: Cheesman Canyon Fishing Map
The River System
Cheesman Canyon is a small section of the South Platte River system. It begins just after the Cheesman Reservoir and flows east outside of the canyon towards the town of Deckers, Colorado. The reservoir sits at an elevation of 6,800 feet.
The dam was erected in 1905 and sits 221 feet above the river below.
The canyon is around 3 miles of pretty amazing fishing for brown and rainbow trout. The rivers flows into Deckers 6 miles from the Dam, and continues North about 17 miles before it converges with the North Fork of the South Platte.
This is an extremely popular river system, and it is filled with anglers year round.
With several dams, this is considered a tailwater fishery. With bottom release dams, the water temps remain relatively constant year round, creating a productive fishery at all times of the year.
If you want to read about other sections of the South Platte, and the entire river system, read our complete guide to fishing the South Platte River.
What Fish Are In Cheesman Canyon?
The Canyon is known for the extremely well off population of brown and rainbow trout. With fish more than 20 inches, and tons between 14-20 inches, a lot of the fish are on the larger size. You may find the very occasional cutthroat in here as well.
Best Places to Fish Cheesman Canyon
Nearly every section of this river holds a ton of fish. You are going to be able to see large fish in nearly every pool, and sight fishing is very possible in many sections. We’ve listed out some of the best holes marked on the map that anglers will see when hiking into the river.
- Ice Box
- Emerald Pool
- Lower Narrows
- Meat Hole
- Iron Spring
- Blitz Pool
- Rocky Road
- Cleo’s Camp
- Indicator Pool
- Peg Hole
- Camel Rock
Here is a PDF with rules and regulations & Info: https://cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/Fishery%20Survey%20Summaries/SouthPlatteRiverAtCheesmanCanyon.pdf
Here is the CO fishing rules and regulations book: https://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/RulesRegs/Brochure/fishing.pdf
From Cheesman Reservoir Dam downstream to the upper Wigwam Club property line:
Fishing by artificial flies and lures only. All trout must be returned to the water immediately upon catch.
Cheesman Canyon is fishable year round. You are going to find anglers at all times. Be prepared to get their early to avoid the crowds.
Best Flies for The Cheesman Canyon
In all seasons for this river, you likely will want to go small, with small tippet. These are heavily fished, and picky fish.
Winter & Fall
Go small midges. Sized 18-22. RS2s (18-24), zebra midges, griffiths gnats, chocolate thunder, copper johns, and others. Emergers, ants & more.
Spring & Summer
Cheesman Canyon Fishing Guides
If you are looking for a guide in the canyon, be sure to check out the following, or reach out to us.
Angler’s Covey: https://www.anglerscovey.com/
Blue Quill Angler: https://bluequillangler.com/
Check out our Colorado Fly Fishing Guides page to find a guide for your needs.
Current Waterflows For Cheesman Canyon, South Platte River, CO
Current Weather Conditions
Here is a detailed forecast for the next four days:
Directions & Parking
More information on the parking area and rules: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/psicc/recarea/?recid=12919. Do not park on the road if the lot is full, you will likely get a ticket.
Here are directions to the Cheesman Canyon Trailhead:
An addition, anglers can park for the upper section which involves a larger hike at the Upper Cheesman Canyon Trailhead:
Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about