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Best Ice Fishing Lakes in South Dakota

Most people choose to visit South Dakota because it is home to Mount Rushmore, but that isn’t the only reason to go. If you are trying to find a destination this winter for some good ice fishing, then look no further than South Dakota. Over the past few years, South Dakota has seen an influx of ice fishing thanks to its great climate and beautiful scenery. South Dakota can give you a chance to fish a little bit more comfortably, because it is warmer than some of the other popular ice fishing states.


Best Ice Fishing Lakes in South Dakota

We’ve compiled a list of some of the most beautiful lakes to fish during the winter months in South Dakota. These lakes are home to some of the best walleye and perch ice fishing spots that the state has to offer.

Top Locations for South Dakota Ice Fishing:

  1.       Lake Francis Case
  2.       Lake Thompson
  3.       Lake Madison
  4.       Waubay Lake
  5.       Opitz Lake


Lake Francis Case


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For anyone who is looking for great walleye fishing, Lake Francis Case may be the choice for you. This is one of the premier walleye fisheries in the entire state. Lake Francis Case, located on the Missouri River, covers over 100,000 acres and stretches for 107 miles. Since it covers such a large distance there are plenty of different spots to fish.

While Lake Francis Case does have some great walleye to catch, there are other types of fish as well. It is also home to northern pike, sauger, bass, and catfish. Lake Francis Case is great for year-round fishing and especially for ice fishing thanks to its steady supply of walleye.


Lake Thompson


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One of the best lakes for ice fishing in southeastern South Dakota is Lake Thompson. Lake Thompson is 12,455 acres and has some of the most beautiful and scenic views in the state. It typically takes a little bit longer for this lake to freeze over, but you should be good to go by January.

Lake Thompson also offers a variety of fish to target. It sees good populations of northern pike, perch, and crappie. If you are looking for one of the best lakes to fish in south eastern South Dakota, look no further than Lake Thompson.


Lake Madison

For another great choice for anyone who is looking to fish in southern South Dakota, try Lake Madison. This lake covers 2,800 acres and has a campground as well, making it a nice family friendly choice. Some of the fish that are in this lake are smaller which also makes it a great lake for kids.

You can expect to find good numbers of walleye and yellow perch. The perch on this lake grow around 7-11 inches and are very abundant, making them great for kids to practice.


Waubay Lake


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Located in northeastern South Dakota, Waubay Lake is one of the premier options to catch perch and walleye, so pack your best lures. Waubay lake spans 1,600 acres and is in Day County South Dakota. The numbers of walleye have been increasing in this lake due to its two-fish walleye limit. The minimum size of the fish you can catch is 16 inches while the maximum can be over 20 inches.

It is also a great place for you to find jumbo perch, which have no limits on the number you can catch. Many people can get their fill of jumbo perch here in just a few hours.


Opitz Lake

Another lake that is great for walleye ice fishing in northern South Dakota is Opitz Lake. While similar to Waubay in some regards, this is also a great destination. Opitz Lake is 1,564 acres and is in Day and Marshal County. Walleye and perch populations are very strong in this lake.

The walleye populations in this lake are rebounding thanks to the two-fish limit that this lake has on walleye. Expect to find a good number of fish and beautiful scenery while fishing here.


Best Lures for Ice Fishing in South Dakota

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South Dakota has some of the best walleye fishing in the entire country. Walleye populations have been growing in the state for years now thanks to a two fish limit in some lakes. Since they are more abundant than ever, you can usually get to your limit in less than a few hours on most lakes. However, walleye isn’t the only reason to visit South Dakota. South Dakota also has lakes that are great for catching yellow perch, bluegill, northern pike, and crappie.


There are plenty of reasons to visit the beautiful state of South Dakota, but ice fishing should be a top your list of reasons. Not only is this state home to some of the most scenic mountain and prairie views, it is also home to some great fishing locations. While it may take a little bit longer for lakes in the south of the state to freeze over, you should have no problem catching fish here throughout the season.

There are plenty of other great places out there worth planning a trip to this winter for ice fishing, like Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, and more. For more useful tips and guides, check out Fishmasters.

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