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South Dakota Fishing Licenses
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South Dakota fishing licenses are required for residents and nonresidents to fish in state-sanctioned bodies of water. Fishing licenses are issued by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission to anglers who meet the minimum requirements for completing a fishing license application. Fishing licenses can be purchased either online or in person at authorized license retail stores. Classes of fishing licenses are categorized depending on factors such as the applicant’s residency status, age, the length of the license’s validity period and the type of fish being caught. The Game, Fish and Parks Commission offers two main types of licenses to fish in South Dakota: recreational fishing licenses and commercial fishing licenses. Residents who fish regularly have the option of buying a fishing permit for an entire year. Younger South Dakota residents (16 to 18 years of age) have the option of buying the Resident Junior Combination permit. Senior citizens older than 65 years of age can buy the Resident Senior Fishing License. Anglers who are visiting the state or who do not plan on fishing regularly can also purchase one-day resident fishing permits. Every state resident who plans to buy a new South Dakota fishing license must provide proof of residency, such as a valid driver's license or a state ID card. In addition, visitors who would like to spend their vacation fishing by the water can obtain non resident fishing permits for one day or three days. Other available non resident permits include the youth permit, the annual family fishing license and the individual annual permit. Regardless of the type of license purchased, applicants must be at least 16 years of age to get a fishing credential. Read the sections below for more information on how to get fishing licenses in South Dakota:

  • Recreational fishing licenses
  • Commercial fishing licenses

New South Dakota Fishing Licenses

Anglers planning a fishing vacation in South Dakota should make sure to first buy the appropriate fishing license. New fishing documents are issued by the SD Game, Fish and Parks Commission either online or in person through authorized licensing agents.

To buy fishing licenses online, visit the Commission’s website license system. At the website, applicants must create an account using their name, date of birth, the last four digits of their Social Security number, proof of residency (in the form of either a valid SD driver's license or ID card), home address and more. Once the online fishing license application is complete, proceed to the next page to complete the purchase. Applicants must provide a valid credit card to pay  license fees.

In SD, anglers can also buy fishing credentials in person by visiting one of the 400 authorized licensing agents throughout the state. To find the closest licensing agent, visit the SD GFP website.

South Dakota Commercial Fishing Licenses

South Dakota offers commercial fishing licenses to both residents and visitors interested in raising, trapping, selling, possessing and/or transporting baitfish throughout the state. The Game, Fish and Parks Commission issues a number of different types of commercial fishing permits to the public, including:

  • Resident Retail Bait Dealer License (also available for nonresidents).
  • Resident Wholesale Bait Dealer License (also available for nonresidents).
  • License for Raising Baitfish.
  • Export Bait Dealer License.

Commercial fishing licensees must submit regular reports to the SD Game, Fish and Parks Commission. Reports must include the number of gallons of baitfish caught, the numbers and species of crustaceans and amphibians caught, as well as the pounds of leeches caught.

In addition, reports must state the dates and location information (in or out-of-state) of the public or private waters from which the catch was taken. For out-of-state amounts, information about the supplier must be provided. Fish species allowed by the state commission to be sold by licensed bait dealers (both resident and non-resident) include golden, emerald and spottail shiner, fathead minnow, Western silvery minnow, flathead chub, white sucker, plains minnow, creek chub, tiger salamander, crayfish, freshwater shrimp, leopard frog and leeches. All sub-species are considered wherever applicable.

To apply for a commercial fishing license for baitfish, complete the South Dakota Bait Dealer License Application and send it together with the license fee (check or money order) to:

Game, Fish and Parks
20641 SD HWY 1806
Ft. Pierre, SD 57532

Fishing Frequently Asked Questions

Oftentimes you can buy a fishing license through your state’s fishing department website. You will most likely need to create an account on the webpage and have a printer nearby to finalize your transaction. Make sure to also have a valid credit card on hand, as no other form of payment is accepted by state departments online. Take note that, as proof of your residency, you may be required to enter your driver’s license number.
In a general sense, a good number of states offer the following types of fishing licenses: a regular fishing license and a commercial fishing license. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to get a saltwater license to fish, if you are by coastal waters. In addition to these permits, you may be required to buy a fishing stamp, depending on the specific type of fish species you intend to catch.
A regular fishing permit is often valid for the period of a full year. However, you may also have the option to obtain a license to fish that is good for 24 hours or 72 hours, for example. In some instances, a weekly fishing license or a lifetime license may also be available. Lifetime licenses to fish are the most suitable option for those anglers who intend to fish for the duration of their lives. Keep in mind that if you would like to continue fishing after the expiration date of your current licensure, you will be required to get a new permit to fish.
The fees related to a state fishing license may vary, depending on a few factors. But senior residents and military veterans can usually get a fishing license that is free of charge, as long as they can present official documentation that supports their residency or military service. Resident licenses to fish are often more affordable than nonresident licenses. The most costly licenses are for those who would like to get lifetime credentials.
In the event that you have lost your fishing license or it was stolen, the most common way to obtain a duplicate is through your state’s fishing department. You may be required to make an in-person visit to a nearby office or to contact a licensed agent directly. Depending on where you reside, you may also have the option to order a fishing permit replacement online. But, to be sure, it is important that you double check with your state department first, as you may also need to bring in certain documentation, such as your driver’s license or ID card.
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