How Much is a Fishing License in South Dakota?

Fishing is one of the most beloved outdoor activities in South Dakota, with nearly 98% of the state’s waters being publicly accessible for anglers to enjoy. But before you cast your line, it’s crucial to understand South Dakota’s fishing license requirements and costs to avoid any penalties.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about getting properly licensed for fishing in South Dakota, including:

  • Why fishing licenses are required
  • Types of resident and nonresident licenses available
  • License costs and discounts
  • Exceptions to licensing
  • Penalties for fishing without a license
  • How and where to purchase your license

Whether you’re a South Dakota resident or visiting from out of state, we’ll break down all the details so you can fish legally and support conservation efforts.

Why Are Fishing Licenses Required in South Dakota?

Nearly all anglers over the age of 16 must purchase a fishing license to fish legally in South Dakota waters. The main reasons for this requirement are:

  1. Funding Conservation: Revenue from fishing license sales enables the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) to maintain healthy fish populations, stock lakes and rivers, protect habitats, and provide public access to fishing locations across the state.
  2. Managing Fish Populations: Licensing helps GFP monitor fishing pressure and harvest rates to sustainably manage fish populations for future generations of anglers.
  3. Ensuring Fair Access: By requiring licenses, South Dakota can more fairly allocate access to limited fishery resources among residents and nonresidents.

There are a few exceptions to licensing requirements, which we’ll cover later in this article. But in most cases, purchasing a fishing license is a small price to pay to access South Dakota’s exceptional fishing opportunities and support conservation efforts.

South Dakota Fishing License Options and Costs

South Dakota offers several types of fishing licenses with different durations and costs for residents and nonresidents. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the options:

Resident Fishing Licenses

  • Annual Fishing License: $28
    • Valid for fishing, taking frogs, and trapping turtles for 365 days from purchase date
    • Most popular option for residents who fish regularly
  • Senior Annual Fishing License (65+): $12
    • Discounted rate for resident seniors 65 and older
    • Includes same privileges as regular annual license
  • One-Day Fishing License: $8
    • Covers fishing, taking frogs, and trapping turtles for a single day
    • Good option for occasional anglers or trying fishing for the first time
  • Combination Fishing & Hunting License: $55
    • Includes annual fishing and small game hunting privileges

Residents who are blind, receiving disability benefits, or in active U.S. military service are eligible for reduced-price or free licenses. Resident anglers under age 16 do not need a fishing license.

Nonresident Fishing Licenses

  • Annual Fishing License: $67
    • Valid for 365 days from purchase date
    • Best value for nonresidents fishing frequently in South Dakota
  • Three-Day Fishing License: $37
    • Covers any three consecutive days of fishing
    • Popular option for weekend or short fishing trips
  • One-Day Fishing License: $16
    • Valid for a single day of fishing
    • Suitable for brief visits or sampling South Dakota’s waters
  • Youth Fishing License: $25
    • Required for nonresidents ages 16-18 to fish independently
    • Nonresident youth under 16 can fish for free with a licensed adult

Additional Licenses & Permits

Some fishing methods require additional tags along with an annual fishing license:

  • Hoop Net License: $10 per net
  • Setline License: $5 per line
  • Paddlefish Snagging Permit: $5 (residents), $10 (nonresidents)

Make sure to check the GFP fishing handbook for specific regulations on when and where these gear types can be used.

Exceptions to Fishing License Requirements

There are a few scenarios where anglers can fish in South Dakota without a license:

  1. Private Property: Fishing on private land with permission from the property owner does not require a license. However, all other regulations like daily limits still apply.
  2. Free Fishing Days: South Dakota typically designates one weekend in May or June as “Free Fishing Days” where anyone can fish without a license. Dates vary annually, so check the GFP website for details.
  3. Resident Landowners: South Dakota residents who own land with a private pond can fish those waters without a license. Immediate family members can also fish license-free.
  4. Institutional Groups: Certain approved institutional groups, like nursing homes or youth care facilities, can obtain special group fishing licenses for residents.

Remember, even when a license isn’t required, you must still follow size restrictions, daily limits, and other fishing regulations.

Penalties for Fishing Without a License

Getting caught fishing without a valid license in South Dakota can result in fines and other penalties:

  • Residents: Up to $120 fine
  • Nonresidents: Up to $170 fine

Repeat violations may also lead to revocation of fishing privileges for a period of time. To avoid any legal issues, always purchase the appropriate license and carry it with you while fishing.

Where to Get a South Dakota Fishing License

You can easily purchase or renew a South Dakota fishing license through several convenient methods:

  1. Online: Visit the GFP website to buy a license with a credit card and print it at home or download to your phone.
  2. GFP Mobile App: Download the Go Outdoors SD app for Android or iOS to purchase and store digital licenses.
  3. Local Retailers: Over 250 license agents like sporting goods stores, bait shops, and convenience stores across the state can sell fishing licenses in person. Find a location near you on the GFP website.
  4. By Phone: Call the GFP Licensing Office at 605-223-7660 during business hours to buy a license with a credit card.

After purchasing, make sure to review your license details carefully and keep it on you while fishing, either as a physical copy or digital file.


Fishing in South Dakota requires a valid license for most anglers, but the process of getting one is simple and affordable. By understanding the different license types, costs, and exceptions, you can ensure you’re fishing legally and ethically.

Your fishing license dollars directly support conservation, access, and education efforts that keep South Dakota’s fisheries healthy and thriving. So not only do you get to enjoy incredible fishing, but you’re also giving back to the resources.

We hope this guide has provided all the information you need to get licensed and start exploring South Dakota’s world-class fishing opportunities. Tight lines!

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