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GF&P Commission denies petition to regulate nonresident angling

Walleye
Walleye. (Photo illustration by Matt Gade)

Walleyes for everyone.

That’s the mindset for the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission, which last week denied one man’s petition to keep nonresidents from fishing certain sections of the Missouri River for the first four months of the calendar year.

Andrew Rick, of Hartford, asked for a rule change that would favor residents who fish the river. He did not participate at the teleconference meeting. His reasoning for the petition, he wrote in an email to the commission, was that “large amounts of pressure reduces the quality of angling experience” for residents.

During last week’s regular GF&P Commission meeting, the commissioners unanimously voted down the rule change.

Tom Kirschenmann, GF&P Director of Wildlife, said the department held internal discussion about the petition and that it didn’t align with its mindset to provide opportunities for both residents and nonresidents. South Dakota does not have a specified fishing season for most species, including walleye. Nearby states such as Minnesota and Iowa have seasons that begin in May.

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Kirschenmann said the department has reviewed rules and regulations in recent years in hopes of reducing complexity and complication.

“This would be a step in the contrary to make rules and regulations and seasons more simple and easier to understand,” he said.

Kirschenmann also said enforcement would also be difficult.

“What happens if someone from another state comes and comes back and fishes with a resident family member?” he said. “How do you keep track of all that and sort all those things out?”

The petition, specifically, asked the commission to have a nonresident walleye/sauger fishing season from May 1 through Dec. 31, with areas on the Missouri River impacted including from the Fort Randall Dam to the Spillway LUA boat ramp; Lake Francis Case from Big Bend Dam through the point two miles downstream; and Lake Sharpe from Oahe Dam to the Highway 14 Bridge.

During the petition’s suggested closed season period of Jan. 1 through April 30, nonresident anglers could have still fished the specified areas but could not harvest walleye/sauger.

Also at the meeting, commissioners heard a report on fishing license sales thus far. The state has increased its license sales for residents and nonresidents in each of its categories this year compared to a year ago, including 3,221 more annual fishing licenses to nonresidents and 17,823 more annual licenses to residents.

GF&P looking to create park fee exemption for Yankton Sioux members

The GF&P Commission also proposed during its June meeting to allow a park entrance fee exemption for Yankton Sioux Tribal members. Under the proposal, Yankton Sioux Tribal members and their families would be able to access four park areas local to the Yankton Sioux Reservation without purchasing a park entrance license from the state.

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Those parks, all in the Lake Andes and Pickstown area, include North Point Recreation Area, South Shore Lakeside Use Area, Randall Creek Recreation Area and the Spillway Lakeside Use Area.

“We’re excited to work with the tribe in this way,” said Scott Simpson, Parks Division Director for GF&P in an announcement. “This exemption would provide members of the Yankton Sioux Tribe and their immediate families greater access to local outdoor recreational opportunities and the educational programs that parks provide.”

GF&P has traditionally waived the license requirement for tribal members who use the state parks for religious purposes. This larger opportunity for free entrance would offer more privacy in those situations. A sticker or pass will be developed for Yankton Sioux tribal members, as the exemption would not extend to every state park and recreation area. The exemption does not apply to other fees such as camping, lodging, picnic shelter reservations, or equipment rentals.

A final action will be considered at the July 16-17 meeting in Pierre.

Other notable GF&P actions included:

  • A continued discussion related to removing the $20 fee for lost or destroyed licenses, permits or game tags. (License agent fees would still apply.)
  • A continued discussion on river otter trapping season, which would take place from sunrise Nov. 1 to sunset Dec. 31 across the state. Trappers would be limited to one river otter per season and statewide, harvest would be limited to 15 total river otters. The proposal is set to be finalized in July.
  • Proposing license fees for nonresident landowner deer and antelope licenses. They would be half the fee of the deer or antelope license, which would be $140 for any deer and any antelope licenses and $165 for "any antelope + doe/kid" licenses. The discussion follows the South Dakota Legislature creating a provision to allow nonresident landowners to be eligible for West River deer and firearm antelope licenses on their own land.
  • Denied a petition that would have guaranteed a license or created a standalone drawing for big game licenses to those with more than 20 years of preference in a big game lottery. GF&P said the state has extremely high demand for elk in South Dakota, with 450 bull tags available each year for the Black Hills firearm season, but about 12,000 applicants for the licenses each year.

Anglers try their luck out on the Missouri between Chamberlain and Oacoma earlier this week. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Anglers try their luck out on the Missouri between Chamberlain and Oacoma earlier this week. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Related Topics: NORTHLAND OUTDOORS
Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at lhagen@mitchellrepublic.com.
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