South Dakota Fly Fishing

South Dakota Fly Fishing Map

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MUD LAKE ABOVE WHITE ROCK DAM NEAR WHITE ROCK, SD: 45.861349, -96.572569
BOIS DE SIOUX RIVER NEAR WHITE ROCK, SD: 45.862460, -96.573958
LITTLE MINNESOTA RIVER NEAR PEEVER, SD: 45.615833, -96.875556
WHETSTONE RIVER NEAR BIG STONE CITY, SD: 45.291632, -96.487557
LITTLE MISSOURI R AT CAMP CROOK,SD: 45.548134, -103.971239
OAK CR NEAR WAKPALA,SD: 45.711942, -100.559302
NORTH FORK GRAND R NEAR WHITE BUTTE,SD: 45.802220, -102.362380
SOUTH FORK GRAND R NEAR CASH,SD: 45.648688, -102.643326
GRAND R AT LITTLE EAGLE,SD: 45.657774, -100.818193
MOREAU R NEAR FAITH,SD: 45.197758, -102.156547
MOREAU R NEAR WHITEHORSE,SD: 45.255817, -100.842921
CHEYENNE RIVER NEAR SPENCER, WY: 43.420995, -104.131916
CHEYENNE R AT EDGEMONT,SD: 43.305529, -103.821031
HAT CR NEAR EDGEMONT,SD: 43.239974, -103.588252
HORSEHEAD CR AT OELRICHS,SD: 43.188032, -103.226587
CHEYENNE R BELOW ANGOSTURA DAM,SD: 43.344978, -103.437141
FALL R AT HOT SPRINGS,SD: 43.430535, -103.476307
BEAVER CREEK NEAR PRINGLE, SD: 43.581372, -103.476584
BEAVER CR NEAR BUFFALO GAP,SD: 43.466650, -103.306031
CHEYENNE R NEAR BUFFALO GAP SD: 43.501964, -103.074410
FRENCH CR ABOVE FAIRBURN SD: 43.717211, -103.367971
CHEYENNE RIVER AT RED SHIRT, SD: 43.672406, -102.892130
BATTLE CR ABOVE KEYSTONE,SD: 43.905032, -103.463860
GRIZZLY BEAR CREEK NEAR KEYSTONE,SD: 43.878043, -103.437691
BATTLE CR NEAR KEYSTONE,SD: 43.871647, -103.336303
GRACE COOLIDGE CR NR GAME LODGE NR CUSTER,SD: 43.761100, -103.364082
BATTLE CR AT HERMOSA,SD: 43.828046, -103.196021
BATTLE CR BELOW HERMOSA,SD: 43.725431, -102.906123
SPRING CR AT OREVILLE, NR HILL CITY,SD: 43.866237, -103.624067
SUNDAY GULCH BL JOHNSON CANYON NR HILL CITY,SD: 43.869429, -103.582416
RENO GULCH NEAR HILL CITY,SD: 43.909707, -103.612416
SPRING CR NEAR KEYSTONE,SD: 43.978710, -103.346047
CHEYENNE RIVER NEAR SCENIC, SD: 43.898045, -102.644061
RHOADS FORK NEAR ROCHFORD,SD: 44.133871, -103.861591
CASTLE CR ABOVE DEERFIELD RES NEAR HILL CITY,SD: 44.013592, -103.830478
CASTLE CR BELOW DEERFIELD DAM SD: 44.029148, -103.781865
RAPID CR ABOVE PACTOLA RES AT SILVER CITY, SD: 44.084708, -103.580470
RAPID CR BELOW PACTOLA DAM,SD: 44.076654, -103.482134
RAPID CR ABV JOHNSON SIDING BLW PACTOLA DAM,SD: 44.081987, -103.442938
RAPID CR AT BIG BEND NR RAPID CITY,SD: 44.054987, -103.417132
RAPID CREEK AB VICTORIA CR NR RAPID CITY, SD: 44.046599, -103.351574
VICTORIA CR ABOVE VICTORIA DAM NR RAPID CITY,SD: 44.029904, -103.435494
VICTORIA CR BELOW VICTORIA DAM NR RAPID CITY,SD: 44.018043, -103.385742
RAPID CR ABOVE CANYON LAKE NEAR RAPID CITY,SD: 44.052766, -103.311851
WILD IRISHMAN GULCH NEAR RAPID CITY,SD: 44.081099, -103.365464
CLEGHORN SPRINGS AT RAPID CITY, SD: 44.058877, -103.297406
SOUTH CANYON NEAR RAPID CITY,SD: 44.092765, -103.327407
RAPID CR AT RAPID CITY,SD: 44.085516, -103.241843
RAPID CR BELOW HAWTHORN DITCH AT RAPID CITY,SD: 44.067266, -103.180930
RAPID CR BL SEWAGE TREATMENT PL NR RAPID CITY, SD: 44.023655, -103.095844
RAPID CR NEAR FARMINGDALE,SD: 43.942102, -102.853925
BOXELDER CR NEAR NEMO,SD: 44.144334, -103.454539
BOXELDER CR NEAR RAPID CITY,SD: 44.131654, -103.298795
CHEYENNE RIVER NEAR WASTA,SD: 44.081098, -102.401275
ELK CR NEAR ROUBAIX,SD: 44.294707, -103.596859
ELK CR NR RAPID CITY,SD: 44.240265, -103.151291
ELK CR NEAR ELM SPRINGS,SD: 44.248318, -102.503222
BELLE FOURCHE R AT WY-SD STATE LINE: 44.748874, -104.051602
MURRAY DITCH AB HEADGATE AT WY-SD STATE LINE: 44.576374, -104.056045
REDWATER CR AT WY-SD STATE LINE: 44.571904, -104.053551
SPEARFISH CREEK NEAR LEAD, SD: 44.299217, -103.868164
ANNIE CREEK NEAR LEAD, SD: 44.327498, -103.894532
LITTLE SPEARFISH CREEK NEAR LEAD, SD: 44.349687, -103.935912
SPEARFISH CR AT SPEARFISH,SD: 44.482484, -103.861592
REDWATER RIVER ABOVE BELLE FOURCHE,SD: 44.667207, -103.839370
INLET CANAL ABOVE BELLE FOURCHE RESERVOIR,SD: 44.700929, -103.732782
BELLE FOURCHE R NEAR FRUITDALE,SD: 44.690818, -103.737699
WHITEWOOD CR ABOVE WHITEWOOD,SD: 44.442207, -103.629361
WHITEWOOD CREEK NEAR WHITEWOOD,SD: 44.541757, -103.571987
WHITEWOOD CR ABOVE VALE,SD: 44.617485, -103.480745
BELLE FOURCHE R NEAR STURGIS,SD: 44.513042, -103.136846
BEAR BUTTE CREEK NEAR DEADWOOD, SD: 44.335540, -103.635472
BEAR BUTTE CR NEAR GALENA,SD: 44.396374, -103.582692
BELLE FOURCHE RIVER NEAR ELM SPRINGS,SD: 44.369989, -102.566526
CHEYENNE R NEAR PLAINVIEW,SD: 44.529430, -101.930153
MISSOURI R AT PIERRE,SD: 44.373038, -100.367911
SOUTH FORK BAD R NEAR COTTONWOOD,SD: 43.969018, -101.767229
BAD R NEAR MIDLAND,SD: 44.067210, -101.160862
BAD R NEAR FORT PIERRE,SD: 44.326649, -100.384300
MISSOURI R AT LAFRAMBOISE ISLAND AT PIERRE, SD: 44.351927, -100.359022
MISSOURI R BL LA FRAMBOISE ISLAND, AT PIERRE,SD: 44.346094, -100.320410
MISSOURI R AT FARM ISLAND NR PIERRE, SD: 44.334150, -100.265409
CEDAR CREEK NR PRESHO, SD: 44.140263, -100.084846
MEDICINE CREEK NR LOWER BRULE, SD: 44.016378, -99.745113
LAKE FRANCIS CASE AT CHAMBERLAIN, SD: 43.816106, -99.327322
WHITE R NR NE-SD STATE LINE: 43.013036, -102.835733
WHITE R NEAR OGLALA SD: 43.254844, -102.827351
WHITE R NEAR INTERIOR,SD: 43.693883, -101.932652
BEAR IN THE LODGE CR NEAR WANBLEE,SD: 43.536666, -101.798592
WHITE R NEAR KADOKA,SD: 43.752495, -101.524867
BLACK PIPE CREEK NR BELVIDERE, SD: 43.755273, -101.227921
WHITE RIVER NEAR WHITE RIVER, SD: 43.713048, -100.685053
LITTLE WHITE R NEAR MARTIN,SD: 43.166916, -101.632732
LAKE CR ABOVE REFUGE NEAR TUTHILL,SD: 43.087112, -101.603870
LAKE CR BELOW REFUGE NEAR TUTHILL,SD: 43.145917, -101.512871
LITTLE WHITE R NEAR VETAL,SD: 43.100699, -101.232234
LITTLE WHITE R NEAR ROSEBUD SD: 43.325559, -100.883756
LITTLE WHITE R BELOW WHITE RIVER,SD: 43.601385, -100.749861
WHITE R NEAR OACOMA,SD: 43.748327, -99.556495
PLATTE CREEK NEAR PLATTE, SD: 43.327219, -98.970645
MISSOURI RIVER BELOW GREENWOOD, SD: 42.905274, -98.349802
KEYA PAHA R NEAR KEYAPAHA,SD: 43.129172, -100.107067
KEYA PAHA R AT WEWELA,SD: 43.027087, -99.780921
LEWIS AND CLARK LAKE AT SPRINGFIELD,SD: 42.855832, -97.885346
MISSOURI R AT YANKTON,SD: 42.866109, -97.393948
JAMES RIVER AT JAMESTOWN, ND: 46.889722, -98.681667
JAMES RIVER AT LAMOURE, ND: 46.355525, -98.304543
JAMES RIVER AT ND-SD STATE LINE: 45.936358, -98.174269
JAMES R AT COLUMBIA,SD: 45.603580, -98.310376
MAPLE R AT ND-SD STATE LINE: 45.938862, -98.452600
ELM R AT WESTPORT,SD: 45.656087, -98.497040
ELM RIVER NEAR ORDWAY,SD: 45.562251, -98.412818
MOCCASIN CREEK AT ABERDEEN, SD: 45.470558, -98.453983
FOOT CREEK NEAR ABERDEEN, SD: 45.519199, -98.577541
JAMES R NEAR STRATFORD,SD: 45.241639, -98.391482
JAMES R AT ASHTON,SD: 44.998308, -98.480927
JAMES R NEAR REDFIELD,SD: 44.910531, -98.472039
JAMES R AT HURON,SD: 44.363595, -98.199257
JAMES R NEAR FORESTBURG,SD: 43.973872, -98.070916
FIRESTEEL CR NEAR MOUNT VERNON,SD: 43.776402, -98.245666
JAMES R NEAR MITCHELL,SD: 43.658872, -97.919240
JAMES R NEAR SCOTLAND,SD: 43.185826, -97.635622
JAMES RIVER NR YANKTON SD: 42.995830, -97.369781
EAST FORK VERMILLION RIVER NEAR PARKER, SD: 43.445259, -97.109779
WEST FORK VERMILLION R NEAR PARKER,SD: 43.415622, -97.205197
VERMILLION RIVER NR VERMILLION,SD: 42.817219, -96.924211
BIG SIOUX RIVER NR FLORENCE,SD: 45.180795, -97.186190
BIG SIOUX R NEAR WATERTOWN,SD: 45.006075, -97.165076
LAKE KAMPESKA AT WATER PLANT AT WATERTOWN, SD: 44.917242, -97.187437
MUD CREEK NEAR RAUVILLE, SD: 45.008187, -97.106213
SOUTH BRANCH TRIB MUD CR NR RAUVILLE, SD: 44.953020, -97.106740
BIG SIOUX R AT WATERTOWN,SD: 44.942464, -97.146186
BIG SIOUX R AT BROADWAY AT WATERTOWN, SD: 44.889409, -97.118962
WILLOW CR NEAR WATERTOWN,SD: 44.918854, -97.045627
BIG SIOUX R NEAR CASTLEWOOD,SD: 44.731548, -97.044652
BIG SIOUX RIVER NEAR BRUCE, SD: 44.467522, -96.887420
BIG SIOUX RIVER NEAR BROOKINGS,SD: 44.180247, -96.749496
FLANDREAU CR ABOVE FLANDREAU SD: 44.062693, -96.485626
BIG SIOUX R NEAR DELL RAPIDS,SD: 43.790446, -96.745662
BIG SIOUX RIVER BELOW DIVERSION AT SIOUX FALLS, SD: 43.573031, -96.764218
SKUNK CR NR CHESTER,SD: 43.848196, -96.836831
SKUNK CREEK NEAR HARTFORD, SD: 43.636115, -96.900415
WILLOW CREEK NEAR CROOKS, SD: 43.630809, -96.827275
SKUNK CR AT SIOUX FALLS,SD: 43.533587, -96.790885
BIG SIOUX R AT SIOUX FALLS SD: 43.501086, -96.748384
SILVER CREEK AT SIOUX FALLS, SD: 43.602197, -96.731717
BIG SIOUX R AT NORTH CLIFF AVE AT SIOUX FALLS,SD: 43.567003, -96.711327
SPLIT ROCK CR AT CORSON,SD: 43.616363, -96.565323
BIG SIOUX RIVER NR JEFFERSON, SD: 42.626383, -96.515587

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You may have visited South Dakota before, and it’s likely that one major reason you did so was to visit Mount Rushmore. This is certainly a sight that every American should experience at least once in their life, but it’s not all the state has to offer. Among the tumbling green hills, rolling plains, and awe-inspiring buttes, you’ll also find an angler’s playland. If you’re headed to the great state of SD, grab your fly rod on the way out the door because there are some waters you just won’t want to miss once you get there.

Where to Go?

The Black Hills of western South Dakota are where you’ll find most of the waters in the state that are capable of sustaining wild trout populations. The state engages in hefty stocking throughout the counties in this area, making them a hotbed of classic trout fly fishing. The Black Hills alone are home to 375 miles of trout streams, two-thirds of which contain all wild fish. Try out one of these popular and productive waterways.

Rapid Creek

You wouldn’t think an urban area would be a mecca of trout stream fishing, but indeed, in South Dakota, that is the case. This 86-mile long tributary of the Cheyenne River runs through the Black Hills National Forest, flowing east right through Rapid City. Surprisingly, the creek right in town can yield large specimens.

Other parts of the city that are productive for trout action include the waters in Canyon Lake Park, the dam above Central States Fairgrounds, and the waters along Founders Park.

Spearfish Creek/Canyon

This Black Hills beauty is one of the most visually stunning fisheries in the area, and is home to one of the only self-sustaining rainbow populations in the hills. There are also browns and brookies here. Spearfish is quite sizable as creeks go, with an average width of about 29 feet, and because it freezes from the bottom up, there’s no bad time of year to fish there. Aside from the excellent fly fishing in Spearfish Creek, it’s tough to resist being surrounded by the breathtaking canyon walls and spruce tree forests.

Spring Creek

This little creek feeds into and out of Sheridan Lake, and although it was badly affected by the droughts in the early 2000s, the area below the lake has recovered and is home to some fabulous hatches. The creek also hosts a wide variety of invertebrates which keep the trout well fed and healthy.

French Creek

In the southern hills, you’ll find this creek flowing through Custer State Park. The horse camp is a good fishing hole, as well as The Narrows – this area is extremely scenic but requires a bit of a hike to access. There is a walk-in area between Grace Coolidge Campground and Center Lake. These waters hold rainbows, browns, and brookies.

Castle Creek

This tributary of the Deerfield Reservoir features great brookie fishing both above and below the lake. Above, you’ll also find a naturally reproducing rainbow population. The fishery is gated, and features a parking lot and well-marked access.

Pactola Reservoir and Tailwater

This lake, created by the Pactola Dam, sits about 15 miles west of Rapid City and yields rainbows, cutthroats, and wild browns. These waters are known for their record-sized trout, particularly below the spillway. There are plenty of facilities – a marina, boat launches, trails, and an 88-site campground.

When to Go?

South Dakota features year-round fishing, and particularly in the Black Hills, fly fishermen will find that there is always action somewhere.

September through November are particularly fruitful for fly fishing throughout the Black Hills creeks, and in autumn you can hit Rapid creek above the Pactola Reservoir for some large browns. Try to maintain a low-profile during this time, as fall trout are seasoned in the game and far more easily spooked than freshly stocked spring trout.

What You Will Need When You Get There?

You’ll want your standard set of gear – waders, boots, polarized sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, sunscreen, insect repellant, lip balm, your accessories like nippers for cutting line and knots, and forceps for removing hooks. You might want to consider fleece waders in the winter months as the water can run quite cold.

Local experts recommend and 8.5-foot rod in 4 weight, with a 6X tippet, and flies that match size as closely as possible.

There are fantastic hatches from about April through September. These include baetis, caddis, pale morning duns, tricos, little yellow stoneflies, and midges (year-round). Terrestrials are also effective here – beetles, ants, and hoppers are handy to have on-hand from mid- to late summer. Scuds and shrimp can also be productive – scuds in olive or tan with an egg sac, and white or tan shrimp in sizes 12-18 are the most useful.

Fishing License Requirements

People age 16 and over are required to have a South Dakota fishing license. For residents the cost is $28 for an annual or $8 for a one-day. Non-residents can purchase an annual license for $67, a three-day for $37, or a one-day for $16. Seniors age 65 and up may purchase a fishing license for $12.

The daily trout limit in South Dakota is five fish per day, and in the Black Hills Trout Management Area only one of those may be 14 inches or longer. There are also a number of catch-and-release areas throughout the state, so be sure to consult the regulations and make sure you’re adhering to the law for the area you plan to fish.

Whether you thrive on nymphing in early spring, or want to brave the icy creeks which resist freezing up in winter due to their swift flow, South Dakota has a variety of options to offer to the enthusiastic fly fisherman. A trip to the Black Hills may be just the thing to get away from the bustle of daily life and experience an invigorating yet relaxing fly fishing vacation.