Statewide Harvest and Length Limits in South Dakota

South Dakota's fisheries management utilizes minimum length limits for walleye to enhance fish sizes and ensure sustainable populations. These regulations are based on biological factors such as growth rate, natural production, and the predator-prey balance.

Key Factors for Success of Minimum Length Limits:

  • Fast Growth: Essential for walleyes to reach 15 inches within four years or less.
  • High Harvest: Encourages anglers to catch fish above the minimum length limit.
  • Low Natural Mortality: Reduces the loss of young fish before they reach harvestable sizes.
  • Effective Stocking: Supplements poor natural production, ensuring a consistent number of fish reaching the minimum length.

Observing the Predator-Prey Relationship:

  • Out of Balance: Indicated by skinny walleyes that are eager to bite, leading to high catch rates but few fish meeting the minimum length limit.
  • Stockpiling: Occurs when growth slows, causing many fish to remain below the minimum length limit, potentially leading to depletion of food resources and impacting future populations.

Statewide Harvest and Length Limits:

  • Walleye (Includes Walleye/Sauger/Saugeye): Daily limit of 4, with only one allowed to be 20 inches or longer. Possession limit is set at 8.
  • Northern Pike: A daily limit of 6, with a possession limit of 12.
  • Muskellunge, Tiger Muskie: Catch and release only, to preserve these species.
  • Trout, Salmon, Splake (Any Combination): Up to 5 daily, with a possession limit of 10.
  • Largemouth/Smallmouth Bass (Any Combination): 5 daily, with a possession limit of 10.
  • Yellow Perch: 15 daily, with a possession limit of 30.
  • Crappie: 15 daily, with a possession limit of 30.
  • Sunfish (Bluegill, Green, Pumpkinseed, Redear, Orangespotted in Any Combination): 15 daily, with a possession limit of 30.
  • Catfish (Any Combination): 10 daily, with only one Flathead Catfish allowed over 30 inches. Possession limit is 20.
  • Sturgeon: Season closed to protect this species.
  • Paddlefish: Available by special permit only, due to their unique status and management needs.
  • Smelt: 5 gallons daily, with no possession limit.
  • White Bass/Rock Bass: No limit, reflecting their abundant status.
  • Lake Herring/Lake Whitefish/Bullhead/Rough Fish: No limit, indicating a more liberal approach to the management of these species.
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