South Dakota Fishing License: The Complete Guide for 2024

May 6, 2024 | 5 minute read
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Welcome to South Dakota, where the great outdoors is waiting to be conquered. The shores of the expansive Lake Oahe and hidden gems like Lake Alvin near Harrisburg are inviting you to land your next big catch. Whether it’s Walleye, Northern Pike, or Smallmouth Bass, SD has it all. But hold up! Before you cast your line, you’ll need a South Dakota fishing license. 

The flag of South Dakota flying from a flagpole against a background of a clear blue sky

Picture yourself on a crisp morning as you cast into Lake Sharpe. Or maybe you’re more into wading knee-deep in the currents of the Missouri River? In any case, a South Dakota fishing license in your pocket will transform these scenes from daydreams into actual weekend plans. Let’s get you on your way to a memorable South Dakota fishing experience!

Who needs a South Dakota fishing license?

If you’re 18 or older, you’ll need a valid South Dakota fishing license, whether you’re a visitor or a South Dakotan. 

A Habitat Stamp is also part of the deal for anyone 18 and over purchasing or applying for an annual fishing license. Created by the state legislature in 2020, this stamp supports habitat protection and improvement. Note that you won’t need a Habitat Stamp with a 1-day fishing license.

Who doesn’t need a South Dakota fishing license?

As you should have already gathered, children under the age of 18 can enjoy fishing without a license, so this is a great place to bring your young ‘uns to foster their interest in the sport of fishing early on.

Additionally, the state hosts Free Fishing Weekends around every Mother’s and Father’s Days. No fishing license is required for anyone—resident or visitor. Just beware that all other fishing regulations and limits still apply, however.  

Information for Residents

A view across a lake towards a man wade fishing and casting a line into the water in front of some impressive rocks in the distance on a cloudy day

If you call South Dakota home, understanding your license options is key. As a resident, you can tailor your fishing adventures with several types of licenses to suit different durations and activities. Let’s break them down. 

For a quick, refreshing day out in nature, the 1-day license is an excellent choice. It includes a day of fishing, including the taking of frogs and turtles, with a daily limit of one per species. 

If angling is an integral part of your lifestyle and you find yourself returning to the water regularly, the annual license covers all forms of freshwater fishing. It’s designed for residents who want the freedom to fish whenever the mood strikes without the hassle of constantly getting a new permit.

And if you’re over 65, South Dakota hasn’t forgotten about you. There’s a discounted Senior Fishing License for resident anglers—a tip of the hat to your years of contribution to society.

Residents who enjoy specific fishing methods can get specialized licenses, too, such as setline and hoop net licenses, each tailored for different traditional fishing practices. Moreover, nursing homes in South Dakota can apply for a Nursing Facility Group License, encouraging group activities for all residents.

South Dakota also offers a combination license for those who love to both hunt and fish. This license allows you to fish and hunt small game under one permit. Senior residents over the age of 65 can opt for the Senior Combination License, which includes the same benefits but at a discounted price.

For residents who suffer from certain physical challenges or veterans with disabilities, a reduced-fee Hunting and Fishing Card is available. It offers a significant discount and is valid for 4 years. Eligible applicants include those with a total disability—such as being wheelchair-bound or permanently unable to walk—as well as veterans who meet specific disability or service-related criteria. Application forms are available online

Information for Non-Residents

A view towards Stockdale Lake in South Dakota on a clear day across a small, wooden fishing pier, with some hills visible in the distance

South Dakota extends a warm welcome to anglers from beyond its borders, too. Whether you’re planning a short visit or an extended stay, there are several license options to enjoy the state’s waters without any hassle.

For those visiting for a quick fishing trip, the 1-day and 3-day licenses are perfect. They provide the flexibility to make the most of your visit, whether you’re targeting Walleye in the Missouri River or casting for Trout in the Black Hills. If you’re planning a longer stay or visit the state often, opt for an annual license

Just beware that there are no senior discounts for those visiting from out of state.

Anything else I need to know?

South Dakota has also drawn up a preference points system to improve your chances of getting a Limited-issue License. These limited permits are valuable to anglers looking to land Paddlefish. Here’s how it works.

Each year, if you apply for this license and are unsuccessful during the initial drawing, you have the option to purchase advantage points for next year. These accumulate over time, enhancing your likelihood of being successful in subsequent years. You can purchase these points through the Go Outdoors South Dakota platform.

It’s important to note that preference points can significantly impact your chances of obtaining a license in highly sought-after units. The points are personal and cannot be transferred to another person.

South Dakota Fishing License Cost

Now that we’ve got the tricky bits out of the way, we can get onto what you’re most interested in—how much will a South Dakota fishing license cost? Check out the table below and find the ideal license for you:

TypeResident FeeNon-Resident Fee
1-Day$8*$16*
3-DayN/A$37*
Annual$28*$67*
Senior Annual$12*N/A
Setline$5N/A
Hoop Net $10N/A
Nursing Facility Group$35N/A
4-Year Disabled/Veteran$10N/A
Annual Habitat Stamp$10$25
Hunt & Fishing Combo$55*N/A
Senior Hunt & Fishing Combo $40*N/A

*The cost includes a $6 surcharge. 

Where to Buy Your South Dakota Fishing License

An infographic featuring the flag of South Dakota above text that says "South Dakota fishing licence, where to buy", along with an illustration of a boat underneath against a blue background

Getting your South Dakota fishing license is easy and convenient, whether you prefer online transactions or personal interactions. Here’s how you can secure your permit:

  • Online. The fastest and most convenient way to get your license is at the SDGFP official website
  • In-Person. If you prefer a more personal touch, you can visit any of the over 400 agent locations across the state. These agents are equipped to help you choose the right permit. 

Additionally, when you purchase your first fishing license for the year, the required Habitat Stamp will automatically be added to your transaction. This stamp is essential for all annual license holders and contributes to conservation efforts within the state.

How should I carry my license?

South Dakota allows you to carry your license in digital form. Download the GFP mobile app, log into your licensing account, and use your smartphone to display your fishing license. Conservation officers will be able to scan the barcode directly from your device. However, you’re welcome to still print and carry a paper copy of your license.

What if I lose my license?

If you lose your license, you can get a copy through your user profile on the SDGFP website. Alternatively, any licensing agent can issue a replacement for a fee. Feel free to email [email protected] for more information about your specific situation. 

Grab Your South Dakota Fishing License and Tight Lines!

A view towards the sun setting across a lake in South Dakota with the silhouettes of two fishing rods visible in the foreground on a clear day

Now that you’re equipped with all the knowledge you need, the only thing left is to get your South Dakota fishing license and come visit. Whether you’re casting a line at dawn or setting out on a guided trip, fishing in South Dakota will be unforgettable. Don’t wait—the fish are biting!

Hopefully, we covered all you need to know about getting a South Dakota fishing license. If you still have some questions left, feel free to contact the Mount Rushmore State directly. Now, get your license, find a fishing charter near you, and head out for some fun!

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Lisa traded the lecture hall for the vast expanse of the world's waters, transforming her love of teaching into an insatiable passion for angling and storytelling. She would sail through oceans, lakes, and rivers, reeling in the world’s fish stories one catch at a time.

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