STATEWIDE HARVEST AND LENGTH LIMITS
Walleye minimum length limits have been used in South Dakota fisheries management for more than 25 years. Minimum lengthlimits are designed to protect small fish from harvest and increase average fish size. In order for a walleye minimum length limit to have the intended results there must be: fast growth (grow to 15 inches in four years or less), high harvest, low numbers dying of natural causes annually, poor natural production or stocking success.
Growth is a key factor in the success of minimum length limits. Walleye growth often slows as food becomes limited andgenerally indicates that the predator-prey relationship is out of balance.
It’s usually easy to recognize when the predator-prey relationship is out of balance; walleyes tend to be skinny and willing to bite, which can lead to high angler catch rates but very few harvestable fish.However, it’s not always obvious. Walleyes may continue to have good body condition even though their growth has slowed. When growth is slow, few fish will reach harvestable size and are said to have “stockpiled” below the minimum length limit.
When stockpiling occurs, many people do not realize that growth has slowed and believe the short fish will be larger next year.When the next year comes, the majority of fish anglers catch remain below the minimum length. These slow growing fish may be lost to natural or hooking mortality before they reach the minimum length. If those fish do survive without growing past the minimum length, they could further deplete the food supply and potentially impact future walleye year classes.
GFP annually evaluate walleye minimum length limits in place on South Dakota lakes. When there is no positive impact on a fish population from a minimum length restriction, GFP will recommend removing the minimum length limit.
FISHERIES AREA EXCEPTIONS: Refer to harvest limit exceptions for each fisheries area on the following pages to seeif the waters you are fishing are different from these statewide limits. See border water sections for Minnesota, Iowa, andNebraska border water limits.
Walleye (includes Walleye/Sauger/Saugeye)
4 (only one 20” or longer)
Muskellunge, Tiger Muskie
Catch and release only
Trout, Salmon, Splake (any combination)
Largemouth/Smallmouth Bass (any combination)
Sunfish (Bluegill, Green, Pumpkinseed,Redear, Orangespotted in anycombination)
Catfish (any combination)
10 (only one Flathead Catfish 30” or longer)
Available by special permit only
White Bass/Rock Bass
Lake Herring/Lake Whitefish/Bullhead/Rough Fish