Top Places for Bass Fishing in South Dakota

Top Places for Bass Fishing in South Dakota
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Samsel

Nothing warms a spring day like a screaming drag and a jumping smallmouth, and after this winter, we can all use a dose of warmth. With that in mind, let's take a look at a few destinations that promise to serve up extra good bass fishing in South Dakota this year.

Lake Francis Case

Walleyes are easily the most popular species to target in this big impoundment of the Missouri River, but that's not due to lack of smallmouth opportunity. In truth, while less than 4 percent of anglers fishing Lake Francis Case specifically target smallmouth bass, the population is outstanding, with large numbers of fish and great size distribution. Early in the season, fish locations shift, with many fish moving to the lake's upper end to spawn. That spells angling opportunity because the smallies stack up in predictable places, including riprap banks and other rocky areas, and they tend to get a little dumb for a while. Boating and bank-fishing anglers alike enjoy great smallmouth action early in the season.

Lake Sharpe

Lake Sharpe, which is located immediately upstream of Lake Francis Case on the Missouri River, also offers outstanding smallmouth fishing. Smallmouths were stocked in Sharpe in the 1980s, and the population has since become well established throughout the reservoir. Along with growing in numbers, smallmouths have grown in angler interest and are second only to walleyes in popularity at Lake Sharpe. The smallmouths move shallower than normal during May and June, spawning on hard-bottom areas, and provide the best opportunities of the year for anglers working from the bank to get in on good smallmouth action.

Prairie Lakes

Horseshoe Lake covers only 600 acres, and very few anglers would know its name if it had not yielded a new state-record smallmouth bass last October. It did, though, and Derek Valnes' 7-pound bass wasn't the only big smallie he caught that day.

That said, Horseshoe shouldn't nab all the attention. In truth, dozens of natural lakes of various sizes in the northeastern corner of the state serve up outstanding bass fishing. Among those best known for bass are Roy, Clear and Enemy Swim lakes, but the very best prospects are probably in some smaller lake with a name that remains little known — so far! Smallmouths generally are the main attraction. That said, several of the prairie lakes also support plentiful largemouths.

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