Fishing in South Dakota

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Some say South Dakota is the best-kept trout fishing secret in the country. Those who enjoy small-stream fishing for wild trout will find refuge in the many streams of the western half of the state, and warmwater anglers will find what they?re looking for throughout the mighty Missouri River system and the state?s many lakes and reservoirs.

The majority of trout streams in South Dakota are concentrated in the Western side of the state in and around the Black Hills region. Dozens of freestones, spring creeks, and tailwaters in the area support abundant populations of wild and stocked brown, rainbow, and brook trout, with browns being the most common. One of the most popular streams in the Black Hills is Rapid Creek which comes out of Pactola Reservoir and flows within close proximity to Rapid City, giving anglers access to incredible year-round trout fishing for healthy rainbows and browns. The upper section of Rapid Creek, however, is more of a classic freestone small stream and is chock-full of brook trout. Several spring creeks in the area including Crow Creek, Spearfish Creek, and Hanna Creek offer even more year-round fishing as the spring-fed waters maintain cold temperatures all throughout the summer and stay above freezing temperatures in the winter. Anglers visiting the Black Hills should definitely plan at least one day of fishing on Spearfish Creek as the gorgeous scenery of Spearfish Canyon is well worth the trip; the wild rainbows are simply a bonus!

Although you can spend all your time fishing in the Black Hills and be happy doing so, the rest of the state has some great fishing opportunities worth checking out. Central South Dakota is home to the famous and historic Missouri River system. A series of dams on the Missouri River have created substantial reservoirs including Lake Oahe, Lake Sharpe, and Lewis and Clark Lake, where walleye are the primary target, but other warmwater species like smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and Northern pike are widely available as well. The Northeast region is speckled with hundreds of glacial lakes that were left after the last round of glaciers moved across the prairies. While some of these lakes are on private land, many are public such as Blue Dog, Enemy Swim, and Lake Thompson, and hold walleye, bass, perch, bluegills, and pike.


SD Department of Fish & Wildlife
523 East Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501
P: 605.223.7660

Guides based in South Dakota

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