South Dakota is a quiet state full of wilderness and mountain landscapes. There is excellent trout fishing in its streams and great bass, walleye, perch, and northern pike fishing in its many lakes and reservoirs. With plenty of options and gorgeous scenery South Dakota will provide a memorable fishing experience.
Walleye are South Dakota’s state fish, and they are distributed throughout almost every waterway they can feasibly live in. Nearly every large lake and reservoir in South Dakota has a walleye population. Some of the most noted walleye lakes are Oahe and Sharpe. Lake Sharpe holds the state walleye record at an impressive fifteen pounds. However, for greater diversity of species, Lake Oahe is the all around choice and Oahe’s species include salmon, trout, and catfish. The Angostura Reservoir is another good option for walleye.
For trout fishing do not head right to Lake Oahe but rather its tailwaters, though Lake Oahe does have some trophy sized rainbow. For a smaller lake than Oahe visit Deerfield Lake, nestled in the Black Hills, for brown trout along with great canoe and kayak fishing. Rapid Creek is a good choice for fly fishing, and home to the state cutthroat trout record.
For diversity as well as trophy fish, Lake Sharpe is a great option. Not only is it a noted walleye fishery, but it is the home of the tiger muskellunge, sturgeon, and a few trout records too. There are also plenty of bass, walleye, crappie, and catfish in its waters.
Bass fishing is as popular in South Dakota as anywhere else, and even if angling for something else you may come across one! South Dakota has habitats to suit smallmouth, largemouth, rock, white, and hybrid bass. For smallmouth you cannot go wrong on Lake Poinsett, where a record holding six plus pounder was caught. Most trophy smallmouth bass in South Dakota are three pounds, though there are larger bass options like hitting the Missouri River for a hybrid bass. Lake Francis Case is another all around good bass lake.
Of course, if paddlefish are more your style South Dakota can accommodate you, too. The obvious choice is the Missouri River, a multi-state home to paddlefish snagging. Lake Francis Case is great for paddlefish, along with bass. However, if you intend to fish for paddlefish apply early as the number of tags can be limited.
When winter comes the fishing is still good in South Dakota so stick around this state. For winter walleye fishing try Devils Lake, which hosts a tournament as well. The Winter Fishing Weekend in Pierre, South Dakota, is a great winter treat. In the winter fishing for trout is amazing in the tailwaters of the Oahe Dam. Enemy Swim Lake is another great ice fishing location, perfect for an ice fishing shack.
If you are older than fifteen you need a license to fish in South Dakota, which can be bought at agents throughout the state or online. Resident seniors pay less for licensing. Both residents and non-residents can opt for one day or annual licenses. Non-residents can also select a three day license or an annual family license. The annual family license applies to a couple and their children under sixteen, but it holds a single person removal limit.
To be considered a resident you must have been permanently established within South Dakota for a minimum of ninety days, and to claim no other state as your home. Active military members stationed within South Dakota’s borders are eligible for residency.
Stock your tackleboxes, because South Dakota’s has multiple free fishing days!
Whenever you head out fishing to a new place, it's always best to speak to local anglers. Use fishing forums to ask questions and learn about the most accurate and up to date conditions.