The 7 Best Fly Fishing Spots in South Dakota!

With its many scenic outdoor recreation areas, South Dakota is a fantastic state to practice this unique fishing technique! For beginners who’d like in-person instruction, the Outdoor Campus East in Sioux Falls and the Outdoor Campus West in Rapid City both provide classes to teach fly fishing basics. There are both children and adult classes offered. High-quality fishing equipment can be found in stores like Dakota Angler & Outfitter in Rapid City, M & W Bait & Tackle Shop in Sioux Falls, Sportsmans Cove in Webster, and Hagen’s Fishing Tackle. Make sure to purchase a South Dakota fishing license, which can be found online or at local fishing and sports stores! Here are seven great spots for fly fishing in the state. 

1. Pactola Reservoir

Hiding under the waters of Pactola Lake are not only the submerged remains of the old town of Pactola, but also a huge population of fish! With a surface area of over 1,200 acres, it is the largest reservoir in the Black Hills. It was created by the Pactola Dam and is used for flood control, irrigation, and as one of Rapid City’s water sources. A popular walk-in fly fishing area is located on Rapid Creek right below the dam. Water levels vary widely, so check before you go.

2. Spearfish Creek

Flowing through Spearfish Canyon is the crystal clear Spearfish Creek. It is considered by many to have the finest population of wild rainbow trout in the Black Hills and is classified as a permanent cold water fishery. Despite its sizable population of fish, it is not overrun with fisherman due to the large size of the creek, which averages about 30 feet wide. Year-round fishing is possible as the creek moves so fast that it does not freeze over.

3. Sheridan Lake

Located 15 miles west of Rapid City, Sheridan Lake is a warm 375-acre lake. A variety of fish can be found here including trout, northern pike, perch, and bass. The best spot for fly fishing in Sheridan Lake is in Spring Creek below the dam. There are several other high-quality fishing areas throughout the Sheridan Lake Complex! During the winter, ice fishing is popular on the lake.

4. Palisades State Park

Flowing through unique Palisades State Park is Split Rock Creek, which is abundant in a variety of fish species. The one-of-a-kind rock formations, calming forests, and curving river make this a picturesque fly fishing destination. Fish species that call this park home include channel catfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, white crappie, and yellow bullhead.

5. Rapid Creek

Rapid Creek goes throughout in the Black Hills, and some of the best fly fishing in the state can be done in Rapid City. The area from the Rapid City Civic Center to Canyon Lake has a large number of brown trout. Canyon Lake itself is stocked with rainbow trout throughout the year. Fishing is permitted at Canyon Lake during every season.

6. Grace Coolidge Creek

Grace Coolidge Creek is a popular hiking and fly fishing location in the Black Hills. This scenic creek has several low-level dams that are stocked with trout. The walk-in fishing area has two trails that lead to it. It can accessed either by the trail adjacent to the swimming beach at Center Lake or the trail near the parking lot across from the Grace Coolidge Campground along Highway 16A. The surrounding rock formations and trees cast beautiful reflections in the water, and the park’s bison are often seen along the creek. While they are beautiful to observe at a distance, do not approach the bison as they can be very dangerous!

7. Whitewood Creek

Whitewood Creek flows through Lead and Deadwood, and eventually converges with Deadwood Creek. In the 19th century, Whitewood creek was widely used in mining operations after gold was found in it. Nowadays, it is a legendary fly fishing location that has been featured in fishing articles. This clear creek is not as widely known as other locations, so it is less likely to be filled with fishermen. Popular fish species in the lake include brook trout, brown trout, longnose dace, and mountain sucker.

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