FISHING AND BOATING

Tongue River

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Length: 8.3 miles
Priority Date: 06/15/1987
Printable Access Map: Download Map
Technical Report: Download Technical Report
X-Stream Angler Article: Download XStream Angler Article

*Angling regulations may have changed since X-Stream Angler Articles were written. Please check current Fishing Regulations for current fishing limits.

About the segment - The Tongue River has its headwaters in the Bighorn Mountains of north central Wyoming and flows east and north before exiting the state into Montana. Near its origins on top of the mountain the north and south forks flow through low gradient meadows before joining and carving a deep canyon to the Forest Service boundary near Dayton. People have found shelter, sustenance, and enjoyment from the cold, clear waters of the Tongue for centuries. One of the notable Indian battles of late 1800’s was fought here when General Patrick Connor made a surprise attack on the Arapaho tribe of Chief Black Bear on the morning of August 29, 1865 that helped bring an end to those conflicts on the Western plains. Today, the river still affords outstanding angling and esthetic experiences where it flows through public lands.

Rationale - The flows recommended above will maintain brown trout spawning and incubation success by protecting the majority of available flows from October through March (brown trout spawn in the fall). The recommended spring flows will protect rainbow trout spawning and incubation at present or higher levels. Studies done by the Game and Fish Department documented the need for 60 cfs from July 1 through March 1 to maintain existing rates of trout growth in the summer and survival in the winter; 80 cfs in April is needed to maintain existing rates of rainbow trout spawning; and 180 cfs in May and June was needed to ensure adequate habitat for the survival and growth of trout eggs and fry.

Fishery - The first formal fish survey of the Tongue River was done by Professor Barton Evermann on July 20, 1893 a few miles below the mouth of the canyon. His notes show the presence of “mountain trout” (Yellowstone cutthroat trout), “black-nosed dace” (longnose dace), and mountain whitefish. He observed that: “Small parties have reported as many as 800 fish taken with hook and line in a few days. There is so much fishing done now in that region that most residents are of the opinion that if something is not done to stock the stream its fame as a fishing resort will soon be lost.” Unfortunately their fears proved well founded and the native trout fishery did in time diminish. The stream was stocked with non-native trout in the early 1900’s. In combination with extreme angling pressure the native trout fishery was replaced with non- native rainbow and brown trout that still dominate the fishery today.

How to get there - Take exit 9 off I-90 (about 15 miles north of Sheridan). Go west on Highway 14 towards Dayton; just as you reach the edge of town and before crossing the river, turn right onto Highway 343. After turning onto Highway 343, look for the Tongue Canyon Road within about a mile on your left. This road parallels the river to the Sheridan County Picnic Ground, where the Tongue Canyon Trail starts. Once you cross onto state lands you can fish anywhere you wish. Or take the trail on up into the canyon.
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