The history of fish species and fishing in the Black Hills is actually quite different than what one might expect. Fishing is a popular seasonal activity along the waters of the Black Hills for visitors and natives alike.
Of the 22 reservoirs in the Black Hills region only four are natural lakes. The man-made lakes were created along area creeks and rivers to increase water storage, to provide flood control, and to enhance fishing and recreational opportunities. These improvements combined with stocking of non-native fish species have created an environment rich in fishing opportunities for many interests and skill levels.
The Black Hills provides an ideal environment for trout. While trout are not native to the region, the cool and swift streams of the Hills have allowed stocked trout to thrive over the past century. Approximately 800 miles of stream and 22 reservoirs currently support trout, and over half of that total is recognized for quality fly fishing opportunities on a year-round basis.
Cooler weather doesn’t stop the pursuit of rainbow, brook, and brown trout either! Trout exceeding 20 inches are known to exist in the cold water streams of the area; Battle, Beaver, Castle, Elk, French, Iron, Rapid, Spring, and Spearfish.
If you are not into trout, some of the lakes and rivers contain yellow perch, crappies, walleyes, bass (large and smallmouth), catfish, and northern pike.
Along the foothills of the Black Hills the Cheyenne, Belle Fourche, and Redwater Rivers provide good spots for angling as well.
Fishing is great in the lakes of the Black Hills. Popular lakes in the Black Hills include, Angostura, Bismarck, Center, Deerfield, Pactola, Sheridan, and Stockade to name just a few! Numerous smaller and more “intimate” settings are available at other Black Hills lakes.
For a complete source of Black Hills fishing information we recommend that you pick up a copy of the Black Hills Fishing Guide, a publication created by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department. This will help you to identify the locations for you to bring in the big one, or the one that is more suited for your frying pan.
One-day, three-day, and yearlong fishing licenses are available at stores throughout the Black Hills. They are also available at any county courthouse or an office of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department.