Cheesman Canyon Rainbow Trout

South Platte River – Cheesman Canyon – January 2018

Thought I would start off the new year with a quick fishing report, although it may not be that short so bare with me.

South Platte River

Photo By Joe Shafer

I have spent a lot of time in Cheesman, love the damn place. I’m a morning guy mainly because that’s how my schedule dictates me to be, but let me tell you seven am in January and hiking into the canyon is not for the faint of heart. When I start out on the Gill Trail it’s about eight degrees and it’s damn cold. After about ten minutes of hike you forget about that cold shit and you’re warmed up and ready for the rest of the hike. It’s really invigorating and refreshing believe it or not. Some of you will say I’m just bullshitting you but it really is something to experience and you really don’t notice the cold as long as your layered up properly. I enjoy the early mornings because there is no one else around and I really enjoy that, but when you’re by yourself in the canyon you might want to take precautions. I will carry a weapon with me just in case a cat wants to get frisky but if you make a little noise you shouldn’t come across anything stalking you. I know on my trips in the mornings I haven’t seen anything lurking about. Make sure you take time at the top of the canyon and enjoy the beauty of the South Platte river and the canyon. Snap a few pics, it really is something to see.Gill Trail head

Now lets get down to business on the fishing report. It’s cold in the mornings and after a good hike you’re a little sweaty and as that sun comes up the temps drop a little until it comes up over the peaks. If your going to fish you got to forget about that cold and get after it! Let me tell you if you do you will be surprised! Second cast one morning in the canyon I got slammed by a nice 20 plus inch rainbow. If anyone tells you fish don’t bite in the winter until after 9 you tell them they are FOS (Full Of Shit)! That’s a technical term used in law enforcement for those of you that know me you get it. But anyway, the trick I have found to this time of year is finding those fish that are feeding. One good place to start is off the edges of ripple lines and big runs. Don’t fish to the trout sitting on the bottom of the river and not moving it’s a waste of time. Look for trout suspended in the water column or ones that are in a feeding rhythm. If you can’t see into a run adjust your indicators and wieght often until you find where fish are feeding in that run.  Another great area to find fish feeding in the canyon is around indention’s in the bottom of the river around boulders. Great holding areas that they can get breaks from the current and they have good cover as protection from all those birds of pray up in the canyon. I saw a gorgeous Bald Eagle in there this week. These areas also provide a constant stream of food and oxygen.Bald Eagle Cheesman Canyon

Lets do some bug talk. It’s Freak-en Cheesman Canyon go small! Right? Well yes and no would be my answer to that. Small Midges in sizes 26-20 are always a good idea in colors; Black, Olive, Purple, Pink, Blue and red. Make sure you have a good assortment of Midge Larva and Pupa patterns. A couple of my personal favorites are; Shafer’s Tricky Bug, Shafer’s Thin Blue Midge, Pat Dorsey’s Mercury Black Beauty, Pat Dorsey’s Mercury Blood Midge and Bubble Back Midges. There are other bugs and food organisms available to trout in the canyon this time of year. Egg patterns, believe it or not, there are still rainbows in the canyon spawning. I have seen beds and I have caught females with eggs in them so please be careful when your wadding around. Stone flies, I have caught fish on smaller Pats Rubber Legs in sizes 14-12. Crane flies, Shafer’s Gummy Crane has been taking fish. Scuds, Lots of moss still in the river and yes there are scuds hanging out in it. You have to fish scuds in smaller sizes 22-18 but they will eat them. My favorite scud is a Shafer’s Scud. Streamers, yes fish in the canyon will eat streamers despite what a lot of people say and even in the winter

. I have been field testing a new streamer in there and the trout are blowing it up. (look for it soon in my shop)South Platte River Rainbow Trout

To be successful this time of year in the canyon you have to think outside of the box. Don’t get stuck on the same old shit in the canyon, try new things fish new areas, believe it or not the Family Hole and the Ice Box hole are not the only places that have fish in the canyon. But its perfectly okay if you stay down there to fish it leaves the rest of this glorious canyon for me to fish. Haha!

If you would like to book a trip with me and go check out the canyon give me a call. Please leave me any questions or comments. Thanks for reading, take care and have a good one!

South Platte River Brown Trout

Photo By Joe Shafer


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