Although amongst the smallest and least populated states in America, South Dakota is one of the most popular tourist destinations thanks to its temperate clime and numerous attractions. The state is divided by the large Missouri River, determining the apparition of two geographically distinct areas, known as the East River and the West River.

By far the most popular tourist attraction is the famous Mount Rushmore, but those who are avid about natural surroundings will certainly have what to see.

From the popular Missouri River to large natural reservations, pine woods, plains, and lakes, South Dakota has something for everyone.

Avid fishers should be pleased to find out that there are plenty of fishing possibilities in the state, so we suggest planning a fishing trip here as soon as possible. Moreover, thanks to the temperate climate, you will also be able to practice ice fishing and leave home with the catch.

If you are interested in fishing regulations in this state, here is what you need to know:


Permits and licenses

Just like all other American states, South Dakota also imposes its own fishing permits and licenses, with pre-established prices. Prices vary depending on the period of the time, as well as the age of the holder, and whether or not the carrier is a resident.

For instance, an annual fishing license for residents is $28, while nonresidents will have to pay $67. A one-day valid permit costs $8 for residents and $16 for nonresidents, while a three-day fishing license will cost $37 for the same nonresidents.

South Dakota also offers licenses for nonresident families. If your entire immediate family is passionate about fishing, you can purchase a family fishing license for $67 per year.


Free fishing days

Although throughout the year fishing without a permit and a valid license is strictly prohibited, passionate fishermen who spend great amounts of money on fishing gears can still enjoy a free fishing weekend each year. Depending on the state and the year, South Dakota offers for all residents and nonresidents a full free fishing weekend.

In 2017, the free fishing days were May 19 - 21, so it is best to check for the local fishing guide to see the upcoming free fishing weekends.


Harvest length limits

South Dakota praises with numerous fish species, but there is a daily bag limitation for both residents and nonresidents. For instance, you will be allowed to catch up to 4 Walleyes per day, 6 Northern Pikes, 5 trouts, salmon and splake (any combination), as well as 5 Largemouth and smallmouth bass, 15 perch, 15 crappies, 25 white bass and rock bass each, as well as 10 catfish. There is no limit on other lake fishes, including herring, whitefish, bullhead or rough fish, while the sturgeon season is closed.

It is best to check out the local regulations for a full list of limitations on fish species, as well as a list of lake limitations on private properties.

The laws are similar for anglers who are ice fishing, but they are now allowed to keep a possession limit for each fish species under the same daily limits.

Bear in mind that as from 2017, the Red Swamp Crayfish has been declared an aquatic invasive species in the state, so fishing limitations are applicable.

Also, on Lake Oahe, during the months of October and November, it is now permitted to snag salmon, under the same daily limits.


Other general restrictions

  • It is illegal to possess or use trammel nets, gill nets, and seines.
  • It is illegal to use a firearm to hunt for fish, frogs or turtles.
  • It is prohibited to release fish or fish eggs into public waters unless the fish were taken from the same waters.



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