Fishing in South Dakota

South Dakota’s lakes and rivers are loaded with great fish including walleye, bluegill, bass, catfish, trout, perch, pike, salmon, and crappie.

With more than 1,100 square miles of water reservoirs and a year-round fishing season, South Dakota is a fishmeran’s dream. From glistening mountain streams to glacial lakes to Prairie Rivers, the state is rife with some of the finest fishing opportunities in North America. Although there are dozens of fish species for the catching, South Dakotan fishers seem to prefer several tried-and-true favorites, including the walleye, bluegill, bass, catfish, trout, perch, pike, salmon, and crappie.

Each region of South Dakota offers its own unique fishing opportunities and conditions, all infused with natural beauty.

Fishing by Region

Western Region

South Dakota’s western region, home of the state’s Black Hills region, has ample fishing opportunities.  With 14 mountain lakes and over 400 miles of winding streams,  brook, brown, and rainbow trout are abundant.  There are also reservoirs and ranch stock dams in the area prairies which are full of largemouth bass, northern pike, and a variety of panfish.

Central Region

The central region of South Dakota is home to the majestic Missouri River, a picturesque fishing spot, once traveled by Lewis and Clark.  In addition to the waters of the Missouri, the central region also boasts four massive dams.  Prairie stock dams are a little less intimidating, but still stocked with fish.  Created to water fish and preserve soil and ground, these stock dams are a prime fishing area.

Eastern Region

Glacial lakes and fields of crop dominate South Dakota’s eastern region landscape.  The Missouri River meanders from the central to the eastern region, where the Lewis and Clark Recreation Area takes advantage of the river’s fishing and swimming areas.  And with 120 glacial lakes in the eastern region, there is no shortage of excellent fishing.

Additional Fishing Options

Ice Fishing

Frigid winter temperatures don’t stop South Dakotans from fishing.  Instead, fishermen haul their shacks out onto the lakes, cut a hole in the ice, and continue to fish.  Ice fishing is popular in all areas of South Dakota, and can be just as much fun or more than warm weather fishing.  Popular ice fishing spots can be located by looking for concentrations of pick-up trucks and ice shacks on the lake.

Obtaining Fishing Licenses

Licenses and Publications

Fishing can be a relaxing, restful pasttime, and making sure you’re doing it legally ensures it will stay that way.  The State of South Dakota makes it simple to obtain and purchase fishing licenses, making sure you can quickly move on to the main event-fishing.

Tags: Fishing


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