Whether it is fly-fishing for trout or reeling in trophy-sized catches, South Dakota is a haven for both pro anglers and weekend enthusiasts. Lake Alvin and Lake Sharpe are just two of the most sought after destinations in the state.
The state gives tourists and seasoned anglers a variety of fishing licenses to choose from, ranging from short-term to annual ones, including ones for residents and non-residents. You might also need to secure permits for set or hoop line fishing. Applying for your very own South Dakota fishing license can easily be completed online. The links below will answer all your questions regarding license fees and online applications. These fees help in the state's conservation efforts.
Before leaving for your trip, you must research on the fishing laws and regulations of the area you plan to visit. These rules are strictly implemented for the benefit of fish population and the conservation of marine life and their habitats. And since some protocols change without prior notice, you must check for updates from time to time.
One way to contribute to the state's conservation efforts is to share your own observations about marine life in the area with biologists when asked. The data collected will help speed up their research and preservation programs.
Planning for your next fishing trip can be very taxing, especially if you are the one in charge of procuring and securing all necessary licenses and permits. The good thing is that in the state of South Dakota, getting a fishing license is very straightforward and as easy as a walk in the park.
Not only that, but South Dakota also hosts rich and scenic fishing locations, making it not only a bucket list entry but a must! Whether you want to fish from the shores of Lake Alvin near Harrisburg or scout out one of the best smallmouth bass fishing spots on Lake Sharpe by boat, you will need to have your valid fishing license with you first. And we are here to help you with that.
This article will answer all the questions we can think of with regard to purchasing a fishing license - no matter if you are a beginner or more experienced angler. So here's what you need to know:
Who is required to purchase a South Dakota Fishing License?
A valid license is required for persons aged 16 and older. A resident or non-resident fishing license is needed to take fish, turtles, bullfrogs, or bait. And like other states, South Dakota also offers special discounts and privileges to its residents. Here are the criteria that you need to fulfill in order for you to be considered as a resident of South Dakota:
- Have a domicile within South Dakota for at least 90 consecutive days immediately preceding the date of application for purchasing or attempting to purchase any hunting, fishing, or trapping license/permit. A domicile is a person's established, fixed, and permanent home to which the person, whenever absent, has the present intention of returning, and
- Make no claim of residency in any other state or foreign country for any purpose, and
- Claim no resident hunting, fishing, or trapping privileges in any other state or a foreign country, and
- Prior to any application for any license, transfer to S.D. the person's driver's license and motor vehicle registrations application for any license, transfer to S.D. the person's driver's license and motor vehicle registrations.
On top of that, the following person is also eligible to purchase a resident fishing license in South Dakota:
- Any person who previously had a domicile in S.D. who is absent due to business of the United States or S.D., or is serving in the armed forces of the U.S., or the spouse of an active-duty military person;
- Any person who previously had a domicile in S.D. who is absent due to the person's regular attendance at a post-high school institution as a fulltime student;
- Any person in the active military of the U.S. or that person's spouse who is continuously stationed in S.D.;
- Any person who is a patient in any war veterans' hospital within S.D.;
- Any person who is an employee of the veterans' administration or any veterans' hospital in S.D.;
- Any person residing on restricted military reservations in S.D.;
- Any person attending regularly a post-high school institution in S.D. as a full-time student for 30 days or more immediately preceding the application;
- Any foreign exchange student over 16 years of age attending a public or private high school who has resided in the state for 30 days or more preceding the application;
- Any foreign exchange student who is between the ages of 12 and 16 who have completed the GFP course of instruction in the safe handling of firearms and has been issued a certificate of competency upon completion of instruction and who have resided in SD for 30 days or more preceding application for a license;
- Any person who is a minor dependent of a resident of S.D.
Where to purchase a South Dakota Fishing License?
Resident and non-resident fishing licenses can be purchased at many retail stores, bait shops, and some County Treasurer offices. There are at least 300 license dealers all across the state of South Dakota, and you can use this map to locate the nearest license agent to your area.
You can also decide to purchase your license more conveniently online. All you need to do is to visit the South Dakota Game, Fish, & Parks website to buy the necessary license for you or as a gift.
Please note that in order to purchase a fishing license in South Dakota, the last four digits of your Social Security Number are required. The Social Security Number information is required from all U.S. residents before this application will be processed. This information will be kept confidential. The information is required to be in compliance with state law on the collection of delinquent child support payments.
A fishing license is available to both residents and non-residents of South Dakota. These licenses are used in order to catch fish (and other species) from the different fishing spots across the entire state. Costs of the licenses vary depending on several factors like age and residency status. Here is a summary of the different fishing licenses you can purchase from the state of South Dakota:
RESIDENT FISHING LICENSES
Resident Annual Fishing
Resident 1-Day Fishing
Resident Senior Fishing
Game Fish Spearing & Archery Fishing Permit
Resident Setline License
Resident Hoop Net License
Resident Nursing Facility Group License
RESIDENT COMBINATION LICENSES
Resident Combination (Small game + fishing)
Resident Senior Combination (Ages 65+)
Resident Junior Combination (Ages 16-18)
Resident Reduced Fee - Hunting and Fishing
Card for persons with total disability and certain veterans - South Dakota residents who qualify and are approved will be issued a Disabled/Veteran Hunting and Fishing Card for a $10 fee that is good for 4 years.
NONRESIDENT FISHING LICENSES
Nonresident Family Fishing
Nonresident Annual Fishing
Nonresident 1-Day Fishing
Nonresident 3-Day Fishing
Nonresident Youth: Option 1 (Youth Annual Fishing License)
Nonresident Youth: Option 2
Nonresidents under age 16 do not need a fishing license when fishing with a parent or guardian who has a valid South Dakota fishing license. The youth's fish must be included in the daily and possession limit of the parent or guardian. Youth wishing to take their own limit of fish may purchase a nonresident fishing license.
As seen in the matrix above, a resident can purchase an annual fishing license for only $28.00. Please note that residents who are 16 to 18 must obtain the Junior Combination License, which includes fishing, as well all hunting privileges, for the same cost. Resident youth under age 16 are not required to have a fishing license. Furthermore, if a resident prefers to purchase a 1-day fishing permit instead, they can do so for only $8.00. Senior residents also get to buy an annual license for a discounted rate of $12.00.
On top of that, residents can also purchase some combination licenses to allow them to fish and hunt at the same time. A Resident Combination (Small game + fishing) License can be acquired by residents, 19 or over, to fish (including taking frogs and turtles) and hunt small game including pheasant, grouse, partridge, quail, cottontail rabbit, and tree squirrel. This annual combination license costs $55.00. Resident seniors, age 65 or over, must buy the Senior Combination License for a discounted rate of $40.00, and Resident youth, age 16 to 18, must obtain the Junior Combination License for $27.00.
Meanwhile, if you are a non-resident, you can purchase a Non-resident Family Fishing License for your family for only $67.00. This License allows a non-resident and immediate family (children under age 16 and spouse) to fish throughout the license period. The combined harvest of all family members covered by this License may not exceed one daily limit and one possession limit for each species. If you are single or you don't want to bring your family to your planned fishing trip to South Dakota, you can also buy a non-resident Annual Fishing License for the same price.
Short-term licenses are also available in South Dakota for non-residents. You can buy a 1-day or 3-day fishing license for only $16.00 and $37.00, respectively. Non-resident youth under age 16 who wish to keep their limit of fish and/or fish on their own may purchase the Youth Annual Fishing License, which allows all the privileges of the adult Annual Fishing License. Furthermore, non-residents under age 16 do not need a fishing license when fishing with a parent or guardian who has a valid South Dakota fishing license. The youth's fish must be included in the daily and possession limit of the parent or guardian. A child wishing to take their limit of fish may purchase a non-resident fishing license.
The state of South Dakota implements fish limits and other regulations to make sure that amid all the fishing activities across the entire state, they still maintain a healthy fishing population. Here are some of the most critical fishing regulations in the state of South Dakota:
- The 15" minimum length restriction for Walleye has been removed from all waters that have a four fish Walleye daily limit except for waters with evaluations in progress. Waters with 15" minimums removed include:
- Clear Lake and Roy Lake (Marshall County), Richmond Lake (Brown County), Elm Lake (Brown/McPherson Counties), Enemy Swim and Pickerel Lakes (Day County), and Lake Mitchell and Firesteel Creek (Davison County).
- Black Bass (Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass) size restrictions have been removed from all waters except Burke Lake (Gregory County), New Wall Lake (Pennington County), and Lake Yankton (Yankton County).
- The one trout over 14" in a daily limit regulation has been removed from Black Hills lakes. The regulation remains in place for Black Hills streams.
- There is now a minimum length limit of 24" and a daily limit of 1 for Lake Trout or Splake in the Black Hills Fish Management Area.
- There is now a minimum length limit of 28" and a daily limit of 1 for Walleye on Horseshoe Lake (Day County).
- White Bass and Rock Bass daily and possession limits have been removed from all inland waters within South Dakota.
Aquatic Invasive Species
- Lake Yankton has been added to the list of containment waters.
- Starry Stonewort has been added to the list of aquatic invasive species.
For more information, please download the 2020 South Dakota Fishing Handbook.
Q: I caught a tagged fish, where do I report it?
If the fish was caught on Lake Oahe, email your name, tag number, boat ramp used, general catch location, fish length, and date of catch to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 605.223.7656. If you would like background information on when and where your fish was tagged, please indicate an email or mailing address to send it to.
Q: How old does my child have to be before she/he needs a fishing license?
Residents: 16 years old. Non-residents: Non-residents under age 16 do not need a fishing license if one of their parents or a guardian has a valid South Dakota fishing license, and the youth's fish are included in the daily and possession limit of the parent or guardian. Non-resident youth under the age of 16 who wish to take their limit of fish or are not with a licensed parent or guardian must purchase a non-resident youth license.
Q: Does South Dakota have a lifetime fishing license?