South Dakota GFP Commission alters Lake Francis Case walleye ice fishing rules
Commission sought to make rules consistent across entire reservoir throughout the year
PIERRE — The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission recently finalized a few notable rule changes, including a change to regulations regarding walleyes in Lake Francis Case.
During its April 7-8 meeting in Watertown, the GF&P Commission modified a petition in March and passed to remove the regulations on Lake Francis Case that requires the first four walleyes caught through the ice from the northern Gregory-Charles Mix county line to the Fort Randall Dam be kept by anglers and that length limits are not in effect.
Anglers would be able to keep up to four walleye they catch and the 15-inch minimum length limit would be in effect for all areas of Lake Francis Case from Sept. 1 through June 30 and the one over 20-inches statewide regulation would be in effect year-round. The proposal sought for walleye regulations to be consistent for all areas of Lake Francis Case during all times of the year.
The petition cited the reduced opportunity for anglers and local businesses from the previous regulation in effect. Those included special walleye harvest regulations for the lower portion of Lake Francis Case when fishing through the ice. GF&P said it is the only case in South Dakota where a regulation specifically requiring fish to be harvested exists because of potential post-release mortality.
Those regulations were created in 2001 in response to public concern regarding high mortality of walleye caught from deep water and then released. But GF&P noted the same issue occurs at other locations during various times of the year, including in the lower portion of Lake Francis Case during the summer.
Altering campsite reservation policies
The GF&P Commission also tweaked the cancellation policy related to campsites and lodging facilities without incurring fees.
The commission voted to allow for the cancellation of campsites and lodging facilities without fee for a period of time after a reservation is made. After that period has lapsed, a fee of one-half of the first night’s camping or lodging fees will be assessed for both types of overnight use.
The commission also passed two administrative rules to align business practices and requirements for license agents in preparation of launching a new online system. Go Outdoors South Dakota launched on Dec. 15, 2021. This system combines the purchases of hunting and fishing licenses with South Dakota state parks camping reservations and other purchases.
In addition, the GF&P Commission finalized several changes to a number of elk hunting seasons at its April meeting.
The changes, which mostly involved the number of licenses issued to hunters, will affect the Custer State Park early archery elk hunting season, the Custer State Park elk hunting season (any elk), the archery elk hunting season, the Black Hills elk hunting season and the prairie elk hunting season.
More can be read about those changes by clicking on the Northland Outdoors section at mitchellrepublic.com .