SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s free fishing weekend across South Dakota.
People can enjoy free entrance to all South Dakota state parks and no fishing licenses are required Friday, May 19 through Sunday, May 21.
Despite a harsh winter that led to winter kill of fish on many shallow lakes, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department has been busy stocking and restocking bodies of water with fish.
On the GFP website, officials share where GFP crews have had stockings the past 14 days. The fish stockings include millions of walleye fingerlings and thousands of rainbow trout and other adult fish. You can view the report below.
A walleye fingerling is about 2 to 5 inches long and it takes years for a walleye to reach 12 inches long. The daily limit for walleyes in South Dakota is 4 with only one walleye over 20 inches. The GFP fishing handbook has specific walleye length regulations for many different bodies of water.
According to the GFP stocking information, large walleye stockings took place on Red Lake in Brule County (3,300,000), Pickerel Lake in Day County (500,000) and Roy Lake in Marshall County (1,030,000).
Community fishing ponds in Armour, Baltic, Covell Lake (Sioux Falls), Elk Point and Mission Hill were also recently stocked.
The GFP’s stocking efforts are part of ongoing management programs throughout the various bodies of water in South Dakota. During the GFP commission meeting in May, Jake Davis, GFP fisheries program administrator, said biologists have been busy stocking lakes and responding to lakes that suffered winter kill.
“We’ve been in this scenario before. This was just a winter where it was a little more on the high end of what we saw,” Davis said about the winter kill on more than 20 lakes across South Dakota. “We just want to get that word out. We have restocked most of these systems or we’re in the process of doing that.”
Davis stressed many bodies of water in South Dakota did not experience winter kill and fish populations are doing “very well.”
“There are some fantastic fishing opportunities in South Dakota right now,” Davis said on May 5.
Davis told the commission GFP does not do any cleanup of dead fish from winter kill. He said GFP staff time “is at a premium right now.”
“A year like this, we’ve got a lot of restocking operations that are going on,” Davis said. “It would really come down to staff time and the availability and the high volume of fish kill scenarios that were out there.”
Davis said people can view the GFP’s interactive public fishing access map for information. People can also view all of the state record fish on the GFP’s website under the fish tab listed as state records.