Photo Courtesy Steven Lamb
Copyright 2016 James Marsh
Fly Fishing The Tongue River Wyoming
The Tongue River is formed by two main branches - the
North Fork Tongue River and the South Fork Tongue
River. Both are in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming.
The main stem Tongue River is a 265 mile long tributary
of the Yellowstone River. Only the upper section of the
Tongue River in Wyoming holds trout. The North
Tongue and South Tongue rivers provide plenty of fly
fishing opportunities as well as the main stem of the river.

The North Fork of the Tongue River is accessible from
U.S. Highway #14-A. It begins as a small meadow stream
but the last four miles prior to merging with the South
Tongue, flows though a deep canyon. The upper
headwaters downstream to the confluence of Bull Creek,
brown, rainbow and cutthroat trout are protected by
catch and release regulations. The brook trout are
candidates for the frying pan.

Unlike the easy to access upper section, the canyon
section of the North Tongue must be accessed on foot.
It is unlikely you will have much competition from other
anglers. This section flows through some rugged
country. It consist mostly of fast, pocket water with plenty
of plunges and rapids. Large boulders make the journey
through the canyon more of a rock climbing adventure
than an easy stroll along a good hiking trail. There are
plenty of fairly easy to catch trout.

The South Fork of the Tongue River is about fifteen
miles long and consist of two very different types of
water. It has several sections of smooth flowing water
that meanders through meadows but also, some very
steep, fast sections of pocket water. The South Tongue
can be accessed from Red Grade Road at Owens
Campground and at Prune Creek Campground about
five miles east of Burgess Junction.

The main stem of the Tongue River drops over
three-thousand feet in less than seventeen miles. As
you may imagine, most of it flows through a deep,
rugged narrow canyon. It consist of rough and tumble
pocket water with plenty of plunges. Once it reaches the
valley, it widens and slows down to flow through ranch

The first four miles of the canyon is tough to access but
can be fished by those willing to put forth a little effort.
The next few miles flow through an almost impossible
section of canyon to access that's surrounded with very
high, almost vertical cliffs. Below this area, it is again
possible to fish the stream but the going is still very
tough. There are no formal trials to follow.

The upper section flows through National Forest Land.
The lower section of the main stem flows mostly through
privately owned property but there are two public access
points - Dayton Bridge Access and Conner Battlefield
Access. The trout in the lower section average a larger
size and consist of browns, rainbows and cutthroats.

Although the fish are not generally not very selective,
they can be and specific imitations of the aquatic insects
can make a big difference. Our Perfect Flies are used
on this stream by several of our regular customers. If
you try them, I'm sure you will quickly see the difference.

As mentioned, fly fishing the Tongue River ranges from
easy to very difficult but only in terms of getting around.
Catching plenty of wild trout is usually not very difficult.

Parts of the river can be fished prior to runoff but it
usually isn't very productive.
The best time for fly fishing the Tongue River is just
after the runoff ends which is usually the first part of July.
Early Fall provides some good opportunities although
water levels may be low and very clear.

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and Trout Flies
Type of Stream

Cutthroat Trout
Brook Trout
Rainbow Trout
Brown Trout


Northern Wyoming

Nearest Towns

April 1 - October 31

Easy to very difficult but plenty of
public access

Special Regulations
A Catch and Release Only section in
the upper North Tongue

Non-Resident License
State of Wyoming

National Weather Service Link

Fly Fishing Gear, Tackle and
Trout Flies
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Options For Selecting Flies:
1. Email us (
with the dates you will be fishing this
stream and we will send you a list of our
fly suggestions. Please allow up to 24
hours for a response.

2. Call us 800-594-4726 and we will help
you decide which flies you need.

3. Email us (
with a budget for flies and we will select
them to match the budget and get them to
you in time for your fly fishing trip.

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