Characterized by sweeping corn and soybean fields, southeastern South Dakota has more than 175 fishing lakes ranging in size from three to 29,000 acres.
Glacial lakes exist in this region in addition to numerous manmade lakes constructed for water conservation and irrigation. Three major rivers course through the region as well: the Big Sioux River, James River and Missouri River, which includes Lewis and Clark Lake, a 30-mile-long Missouri River reservoir.
Along with private and city campgrounds, 16 state parks and recreation areas provide more than 1,140 campsites for visitors.
Walleye and Bass
Walleye and bass compete for top honors in this region. Lewis and Clark Lake, with more than 29,000 acres of surface water, draws anglers from across the nation with its alluring combination of largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Backwater bays, sandbar drop-offs, creeks and stands of rushes provide the habitat for both species. Casting toward structure with various crankbaits, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits are popular methods, along with jigging during the heat of the summer. Don’t be surprised, however, if a large northern pike takes the bait as well. Walleye, sauger and catfish are a few other species that make up the catches for Lewis and Clark anglers.
Walleye anglers in this region troll crankbaits to locate schools of feeding fish in the flat-bottom lakes. Panfishermen will want to look for shallow weed beds during the spring and drop-offs during the summer. Still-fishing with a small jig or fly fishing with wet flies or small poppers is effective for bluegills.
Northern pike tend to be on the edges of weeds, rocks or other structure, which may hold the prey fish they are hunting. Lures imitating wounded prey fish work well to entice waiting pike.
For young and old alike, nothing keeps fishing attention longer than bullheads. These scrappy fish are found in most waters. A simple hook-and-worm combination will keep most anglers busy throughout the day. Good bullhead waters include most lakes and the Big Sioux and James Rivers.
Ice fishing in the Southeast Region can be very effective when using jigging spoons or teardrop hooks tipped with a minnow or wax/meal worms. Pike, walleye, bluegill and perch are favorites. Concentrations of trucks and ice houses on a lake will usually indicate where the bite is taking place.
More Information and Tips
- Southeast Map and Chart (PDF – from Tourism Fishing & Hunting Guide)
- Lewis and Clark Lake Fishing Forecast (GFP)
- Southeast South Dakota Lake Survey Summaries, Net Catches & Stocking Reports (GFP)
- View and Order Maps of South Dakota Lakes (GFP)
- Southeast South Dakota Tourism Association
- Spin Casting: Crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, spoons, lead-head jigs, plugs and poppers
- Bait Fishing: Night crawlers, minnows, chubs, leeches, wigglers, crayfish and frogs
- Most Fished Species: Walleye, sauger, channel catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bullhead, bluegill, perch, crappie
- Popular Waters: James River, Big Sioux River, Missouri River, Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Carthage, Tripp Lake, Marindahl Lake, Brandt Lake, Lake Madison, Lake Herman, Lake Vermillion, Wall Lake, Burbank Lake, Lake Alvin, and Lake Lakota