South Dakota Shore Fishing : The Glacial Lakes Region

A World Class Fishery

Beginning in the mid-90’s the Glacial Lakes region of South Dakota aka the Prairie Pothole region of South Dakota was inundated with precipitation.  Many low-lying basins, many of which were public hunting areas, were flooded.  Land that formerly attracted pheasant hunters to South Dakota now attracts fishermen in pursuit of walleye, perch, and pike.

Non-Meandered Lakes and Sloughs

Many of these flooded low areas were not originally designated as lakes (aka non-meandered water) so today, legal access of these waterways is contentious and currently tied up in the courts. Since much the land under the waterways is publicly owned, it is a fair assumption that some public access will be restored, until then shore fishing remains a great option.

Shore Fishing

Fishing from shore is a productive and easy way to fish in South Dakota.  Most of the non-meandered bodies of water have public roadside access.  The roadside ditches also attach fish in the shallow water bodies since the ditches provide bottom structure to an otherwise homogenous below surface structure.

South Dakota Shore Fishing Methods

Jig Fishing

The most popular method for catching fish in South Dakota is done using a jig and minnow or twister tail.  Simply throw out from shore and use retrieve.  Vary the cadence and speed of the retrieve to find what is triggering the fish.  Minnows are a readily available bait in most towns.

Still Fishing

If you spend any time fishing from shore in South Dakota you will notice locals setting stationary poles using a two-hook set up with a heavy bottom weight, known in South Dakota as “crappie rig”. This set up is very effective method for fishing.  An angler can use multiple bait on one set up to help determine what the fish are preferring.  Since South Dakota allows two poles, tying one of the poles with a bottom rig increases the chance of hooking up.

Slip bobber rigs are another method that can be used when conditions allow for it.  Slip bobber fishing works well when fishing with kids or presenting other baits like leeches and crawlers.

Crank- and swimbaits

For anglers wishing to keep is simple, a good alternative to bait is to use either a crankbait or swimbait. When other methods of fishing aren’t producing tying on a crankbait or swimbait can often trigger a bite.  Crankbaits often produce fish during the middle of the day when bait fishing South Dakota walleyes is slow.

Planning Your Trip

Lodging in South Dakota

There are many lodging option in South Dakota.  Hotels are available in most towns and offer easy access to local dining and bars.  Another option is staying at one of the many South Dakota hunting lodges located throughout the region.  In addition to added luxury, these hunting lodges often include extra amenities to futher enjoy your time.  Most have fish cleaning facilities and freezers to store your catch.  Anglers can also have access of kitchen and outdoor dining to prepare and enjoy their catch.   If you visit in September or later you have the option of including South Dakota pheasant hunting during your stay.

South Dakota Hunting and Fishing Licenses

Attaining a fishing or hunting license is a straightforward, short process. Now that digital images are a valid form of license getting a license online takes just a few short minutes. Visit the South Dakota Game and Fish website, set up an account, choose license option, pay, and screenshot; now you’re ready to hit the water.