Tongue River Reservoir was once celebrated as the top crappie fishery in the state. The record black and white crappie have been caught there. The waterbody is also popular with Wyoming residents in nearby Sheridan.
Unfortunately, the reservoir is not so hot for the popular panfish anymore. When Fish, Wildlife & Parks performed its fall fisheries survey at the lake last year, the numbers recorded for crappie were at an all-time low. As crappie numbers have dwindled, FWP has been trying to understand why. The most likely reasons are the rebuilding of the dam and a new water compact with Wyoming.
Once the dam was rebuilt the water level rose. Under a new agreement over water with Wyoming, the lake’s level remains more constant, whereas it used to fluctuate by as much as 30 feet. Those fluctuations may have been needed to help crappie thrive. FWP is starting a program to stock white crappie in the reservoir to see if that will help.
In the meantime, anglers should turn their attention to the reservoir’s thriving smallmouth bass and walleye populations. To read more about the fishery, check out my story at https://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/fwp-eyes-stocking-tongue-river-reservoir-with-white-crappie-as-population-nosedives/article_6089e424-abea-11ed-acb0-5740fdfbb9fe.html.
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