With more than 1,000 square miles of lakeshore and a season that extends from New Year's Day to New Year's Eve, fishing in South Dakota is good at any time of year. In fact, South Dakota ice fishing is enjoying a burst in popularity, and more anglers are heading to the Mount Rushmore State in the winter months. But the spring, summer, and fall all offer their own opportunities. Several outfitters lead fishing expeditions, and resorts along the shores welcome anglers. In all seasons and throughout the state, South Dakota fishing licenses are required for residents and visitors. Many bait shops, tackle stores, and other retailers have licenses for sale, and they can be purchased online.
Those interested in looking behind the scenes of fishing in South Dakota should plan a trip to one of the state fish hatcheries, where species are bred for release into the lakes, rivers, and streams. The Blue Dog Lake State Fish Hatchery in Waubay raises bass in the summer and cool-water species such as walleye and northern pike in the spring. Along with viewing the exhibits and aquariums, visitors can follow the hiking trails along the lake and do some South Dakota fishing themselves.
In Rapid City, the Cleghorn Springs State Fish Hatchery takes cares of trout and salmon. The trout are released in the reservoirs, lakes, and streams among the Black Hills, while the salmon eventually end up in Lake Oahe. Spanning more than 200 miles from Pierre to North Dakota's capital city of Bismarck, this major body of water has 51 recreation areas, plentiful boat launches, a visitor center, and some of the best lake fishing in South Dakota. In addition to the stocked salmon, anglers might hook catfish, walleye, and pike.
Lake Oahe is one of the popular places for South Dakota fishing. Most of the state parks offer some kind of fishing opportunities, both in the rural regions and larger towns. Along with Lake Oahe, Pierre has the Farm Island Recreation Area, where a Missouri River reservoir is well-stocked with walleye, bass, pike, and perch. Along with access to Lake Sharpe, this state park offers swimming, boating, hiking, and other recreational options in addition to a visitor center that details the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Just outside of Yankton, travelers will find another state park with ties to the famous explorers. The Chief White Crane Recreation Area hugs the shores of Lake Yankton, which is known for its camping as well as bald eagle watching in the winter. Seasoned anglers have reported good bass fishing. Not far away, Lewis and Clark Lake has a fishing pier in a marina. The state park on its shores is one of the most modern, complete with resort facilities, cabins, and campsites for overnight accommodations, welcoming amenities for visitors, and several spaces for recreation. Yankton is also the home of the Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery and Aquarium, located along the Missouri River.
Fly fishing is a popular activity for anglers in the region, and South Dakota has plenty of possible sites. Visitors looking to do some fly fishing in South Dakota have their choice of locations, but the catch is especially good in the Black Hills. A short distance from Mount Rushmore, several streams and scenic lakes are known for their trout fishing in South Dakota.
Many anglers look forward to the arrival of winter for the chance to do some South Dakota ice fishing. Many of the smaller lakes freeze over, and the reservoirs along the Missouri River also support angling in the winter. The Glacial Lakes & Prairies Region in and around Watertown is home to several lakes, lodges, resorts, and outfitters perfectly primed for South Dakota ice fishing.