Lake fishing, southeast

Fishing in Southeastern South Dakota


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.

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Walleye is the most populated predator fish in this region’s lakes. Walleye anglers in this region troll crankbaits to locate schools of feeding fish in the flat-bottom lakes. Backwater bays, sandbar drop-offs, creeks and stands of rushes provide the habitat for both walleye and bass. 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. Sauger and catfish can also be caught by anglers on Lewis and Clark Lake.

Happy kid fishing

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. 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.

Bass fisherman canoe

With more than 29,000 acres of surface water, Lewis and Clark Lake draws anglers from across the nation, thanks to the alluring combination of largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Pike in water
Northern Pike

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.

Ice Fishing with fish
Ice Fishing

Ice fishing in the southeastern 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.

Fishing at Lake Yankton



Q: What's best for spin casting?

A: Crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, spoons, lead-head jigs, plugs and poppers


Q: What's best for bait fishing?

A: Night crawlers, minnows, chubs, leeches, wigglers, crayfish and frogs


Q: What are the most fished species here?

A: Walleye, sauger, channel catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, bullhead, bluegill, perch, crappie


Q: Where are the most popular waters?

A: 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

United States

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