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Fly Fishing Cheesman Canyon – South Platte River, CO – Complete Guide w/ Map, Pictures, Tips & More


Article Categories: Fishing

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.

Quick Navigation:
River Map | River System | Best Places to Fish | Rules & Regulations | Flies | Guides | Current Weather | Current Water Flows


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


Cheesman Canyon Fishing Map

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

River Rules & Regulations

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

The midges, RS2s and worms work year round. In the spring & summer, BWO emergers, stoneflies, small parachute adams, and other small dries that you may see hatching.


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

Here is a link to see the current waterflows:


Current Weather Conditions

Here is a detailed forecast for the next four days:

Westcreek, CO

A chance of showers and thunderstorms before 2am, then a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 42. North northwest wind around 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

A slight chance of rain showers before noon, then showers and thunderstorms likely. Mostly cloudy. High near 62, with temperatures falling to around 58 in the afternoon. West wind 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts less than a tenth of an inch possible.

Tuesday Night
A chance of showers and thunderstorms before 11pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 37. West wind 5 to 12 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Sunny, with a high near 70. Southwest wind 5 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Wednesday Night
A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before 9pm. Mostly clear, with a low around 41. West southwest wind 5 to 12 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph.

Sunny, with a high near 74.

Thursday Night
Partly cloudy, with a low around 42.


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

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, backcountry skier, 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. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued climbed all of the Colorado 14ers, is always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about