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The Best Fishing Spots For Catfish In South Dakota

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Guide to fishing for flathead, blue and channel catfish in SD.

South Dakota offers excellent catfish fishing, with three primary catfish species attracting anglers – channel catfish, flathead catfish, and blue catfish.

Channel catfish are the most abundant and widely distributed catfish species in the state. They can be found in various water bodies, including rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Channel catfish are known for their willingness to bite and are often caught using a variety of baits such as worms, cut bait, and stink bait. They provide an exciting fishing experience for anglers of all ages and skill levels.

Flathead catfish, also known as "yellow cats," are another popular catfish species found in South Dakota. These large and powerful fish prefer deep, slow-moving waters like rivers and reservoirs. Anglers often target them using live bait such as small fish or large crayfish, as well as artificial lures like jigs and swimbaits. Flatheads can put up a fierce fight when hooked, making them a sought-after trophy for catfish enthusiasts.

Blue catfish, although less common than the other two species, can still be found in some South Dakota waters. They are typically found in large rivers and reservoirs and can grow to impressive sizes. Blue catfish are often caught using cut bait or live bait and are known for their strong and stubborn resistance when hooked.

The best time for catfish fishing in South Dakota is typically during the warmer months, from late spring to early fall. During this time, catfish become more active and feed more aggressively, providing ample opportunities for anglers to target them. Whether you're looking to catch a limit of channel catfish for a delicious fish fry or hoping to land a massive flathead or blue catfish for a thrilling fishing experience, South Dakota's catfish waters have something to offer every catfish enthusiast.

Catfish Fishing Lakes in South Dakota

Catfish fishing in South Dakota

You can find catfish in most of South Dakotas major lakes including Angostura Reservoir, Belle Fourche Reservoir, Lake Albert, Lake Francis Case, Lake Kampeska, Lake Oahe, Lake Pelican, Lake Poinsett, Lake Sharpe, Lake Thompson, Lake Traverse, Lewis And Clark Lake and Shadehill Reservoir. They cal also be caught out of rivers, smaller lakes and ponds across the state.

Fishing Boats For Rent In South Dakota

Catfish in South Dakota

Channel Catfish

Channel catfish

World record: 58 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 30 lbs 1 oz

Flathead Catfish

Flathead catfish

World record: 123 lbs 9 oz

State Record: 63 lbs 8 oz

Blue Catfish

Blue catfish

World record: 143 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 99 lbs 4 oz

Click the images and links above for species details.

What's the best bait for catfish in South Dakota?

Choose from the top 5 all-time catfish baits and try them on local waters. Appealing to the keen sense of smell and taste could turn a so-so day into a memorable event.

South Dakota State Record Catfish

The state record channel catfish was caught from a farm pond.

The state record flathead catfish came from the James River.

The state record blue catfish came out of the Big Sioux River.

Most catfish are considered bottom feeders to one extent or another. They will generally eat anything that can get in their mouth. Their strongest sense is smell which they use to locate potential food sources. Capitalizing on this sense is the primary weapon in your search for these creatures. Aggressive catfish have been caught on most types of fast moving bass lures so don't under estimate their ability to catch live bait.

There are many species of catfish and even more ways to catch them. Adults range in size from less than a pound to hundreds of pounds. Catfish are found in all types of water including ponds, streams, lakes and rivers throughout South Dakota. There are even species which spend a limited amount of time on dry land. Big giant catfish put up a very noble fight once hooked.

Catfish Fishing Video

Additional catfishing information resources.

Catfish Conservation Group

U.S. Catfish Anglers Tournaments

Planet Catfish


Catfish information by state.

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