Fishing in the Black Hills
South Dakota is a fishing paradise. It doesn’t matter what season you visit because fishing is available year-round. Trout is the most sought after fish in the Black Hills, but you can also find walleye, bass, catfish, northern pike, crappies, and bluegills.
Rainbow Trout are stocked in the majority of Black Hills lakes and several streams which are without self-sustaining trout populations. Known for its tasty pink flesh, the rainbow trout is a favorite among Black Hills fishermen. Rainbow trout stay in streams until they reach 6" to 9" in length. They then migrate to the lakes to mature.
Brook Trout are the smallest of the Black Hills trout. They seldom exceed 10 inches in length but make up for it with their color and beauty. They are native to most Black Hills streams, especially the upper reaches. Fishing for brook trout is the easiest of all the trouts. Look for streams with a gravel bottom and a moderate current. They also prefer waterfalls, and ponds which have rocks and other places to hide.
Wild Brown Trout inhabit Pactola Lake and most Black Hills streams and are usually 8 to 12 inches in length, but can reach up to 14 to 20 inches. When you are fishing for brown trout, look for quiet waters. Brown trout are cautious and prefer hiding near logs, under cuts in the bank, rock shelves, and overhanging brush. The larger they get, the more wary they become. They often feed at night under the protection of darkness.
The daily limit is five trout, with only one fish 14 inches or longer, regardless of species. There are also some special management areas which are "catch and release only" and some special areas where only artificial lures may be used. For more information please refer to the South Dakota Fishing Handbook.
See Also: Winter Activities for information about ice fishing.
Black Hills Lake Fishing
Sheridan Lake Reservoir
385 acres, average depth 29.5 feet, deepest 90 feet
Downloadable map of Sheridan Lake
Yellow Perch, Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Trout
Deerfield Lake Reservoir
414 acres, 90 feet deep at its deepest
Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Splake
The South Dakota state record Splake was caught in Deefield Lake on May 10, 2010. It wieghed 11lbs. 14 oz.
The South Dakota state record Brook Trout was caught in Deerfield Lake on May 1, 2010. It weighed 12 lbs.
Directions: From Deerfield go south on West Deerfield Road, and follow it to the western end of the lake. Make a left at Whitetail Loop and follow it along the southern bank of Deerfield Lake.
Pactola Lake Reservoir
785 acre, average depth 29.5 feet, deepest 90 feet, 7.8 miles of shoreline
Downloadable Map of Pactola Lake
Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Lake Troup, Perch
The South Dakota state record Lake Trout was caught in Pactola on May 17, 2009. It weighed 28 lbs. 5 oz.
16 acres - Trout, Lakota Lake Trout
17.3 acres, 1 mile of shoreline, average depth 12.8 feet, deepest 43 feet
Downloadable map of Sylvan Lake
Bear Butte Lake
214 acres, 3.5 miles of shoreline, average depth 7 feet, center depth 15 feet
Downloadable map of Bear Butte Lake
Bullheads, Crappies, Northern Pike
Directions from Sturgis, SD. Drive east on SD 79/SD 34. Take a left to follow SD 79. Make a left on Bison Rd.There is a fishing access on this road or you can go one mile to the lake.
4,275 acres, 35.5 miles of shoreline, average depth 29.3 feet, deepest 70 feet
Downloadable map of Angostura Lake
Bluegill, Perch, Yellow, Pike, Northern, Walleye, Bass, Crappie
Angostura Lake is located 10 miles southeast of Hot Springs off US Hwy. 385-18
Belle Fourche Reservoir (Orman Dam)
8,063 acres, 49.7 miles of shoreline, average depth 25 feet, deepest 55 feet
Downloadable map of Belle Fourche Resrvoir
Bass, White, Walleye, Catfish
Directions: Go east out of Belle Fourche on US 212. Go for about eight miles, and you'll see the reservoir on your left.
Black Hills Stream Fishing
Crow Creek Watershed
Crow Creek runs fast and cold all summer long. Access is slightly difficult because of the dense vegetation, but it does have a good supply of brown and rainbow trout. There is good access to Crow Creek along the McKenny Hatchery Road exit from I-90 just two miles past the Wyoming border.
Spearfish Creek is one of the most scenic places to fish in the Black Hills and is home a healthy brown trout polulation and wild rainbow trout. Access is easy along Spearfish Canyon road with many places to pull off along the way.
Whitewood Creek Watershed
The upper part of Whitewood Creek hold brook trout and a few brown trout.
Lower Rapid Creek Watershed
Rapid Creek is considered by many to be one of the best fishing creek in the Black Hills.The part of the creek just below the dam is a catch and release area holding some of the largest rainbow and brown trout you'll find in the Black Hills.
Upper Rapid Creek Watershed
The upper waters above Pacotola Lake have a good population of brook trout.
Spring Creek Watershed
Spring Creek follows Forest Service Road 305 with many access points. It flows into and out of Sheridan Lake. It is excellent for brook and brown trout fishing, especially below the dam.
Castle Creek Watershed
Castle Creek is home to brook trout, splake, and a few rainbow trout above Deerfield Reservoir, while below the reservoir you'll find brook trout and brown trout. The further downstream you go from Deerfield Lake the more brown trout you'll find.
Custer State Park
Recent fishing report have been very good for all of Custer State Park.
Obtaining a South Dakota Fishing License
Resident and nonresident fishing licenses may be purchased over the Internet and at many sporting goods stores, convenience stores and some County Treasurer’s Offices. The maximum charge for each fishing license sold by a license agent is $2. Licenses must be in the licensee’s possession while fishing or transporting fish. The license must be exhibited on demand of any person.