South Dakota, with its 1,100 square miles of water, is a paradise for anglers and water sports enthusiasts. The scenic Missouri River flows through the heartland of the state. Damming of the river created more than 900 miles of open waterway, much of which is dotted with State Park Recreation Areas. There are well over 400 glacial and manmade lakes scattered throughout South Dakota, the largest of which is 29,000 acres.
The sparkling waterways and crystal-clear lakes of South Dakota are home to more than thirty sport fish species, including walleye, perch, large and smallmouth bass, bluegill, salmon, crappie, channel cat, trout, and northern pike. During the winter months, South Dakota’s lakes are popular sites for ice fishing. Exceptional fishing locations include:
- Lake Poinsett: Located in the Glacial Lakes region of South Dakota, Lake Poinsett contains more than 8,500 acres of pristine water. Summer visitors enjoy breezy temperatures in the 80s and cool nighttime temperatures in the 60s – perfect for waterfront camping.
- Lake Thompson: Also in the Glacial Lakes Region, Lake Thompson provides more than 18,000 acres of glistening water. One of the best walleye spots in the state, it’s rivaled only by the Missouri River for plentiful fishing.
The calm waterways of South Dakota are also excellent for kayaking and canoeing. Some of the state’s prime kayak and canoe waterways include:
- Big Sioux Recreation Area: Once used exclusively by American Indians and fur traders, the Big Sioux River is an ideal waterway for kayaking and canoeing. Nearly two miles of the river snake through the recreation area.
- Oakwood Lakes State Park: Eight glacial lakes connect to create a seemingly endless waterway. Each July, Oakwood Lakes State Park hosts an annual family canoe tour.
More than one million vacationers visit the Lewis and Clark Recreation Area each year. The area provides countless hours of aquatic activities—fishing, boating, swimming, and more—in addition to 90 miles of beautiful shoreline for sunbathing and relaxing.