Custer and the Black Hills are hunting and fishing havens. Brown, brook and rainbow trout are abundant in the streams and lakes, while wild turkey, deer and big game are popular hunting activities.
The Black Hills, which reach elevations over 7,000 feet, provide some of the best big game hunting opportunities in the state. West River deer, antelope and Elk hunting are popular because the terrain varies from rolling hills and prairies to high mountains covered with ponderosa pine, white spruce, aspen and bur oak. However, elk hunting is reserved for resident hunters only and licenses are only awarded through a lottery system.
Small game, pheasant and waterfowl are also hunted in the Black Hills, but these species are not as prevalent as they are in the central and eastern reaches of South Dakota. One species you will find in vast numbers are wild turkey. The Black Hills, especially the Custer area, have world-class turkey hunting opportunities. Turkeys may be hunted during both the fall and spring season. Almost all hunting areas can be reached by pickup and there are even limited access areas where hunters can walk-in. Black Hills turkey hunters generally have a 40% success rate.
Things to Remember When Hunting:
- Hunting seasons vary in timing and length. Check the state Game Fish and Parks department website for hunting seasons and regulations.
- You may purchase a hunting license online or through an authorized storefront agent in Custer. Keep in mind some big game tags are limited and for resident hunters only.
- Daily limit and possession limits vary among species and season.
- Black Hills spring turkey licenses are available by application only through the Game, Fish and Parks License Office in Pierre. Applications may be submitted online mail through the end of the season.
Black Hills/Western South Dakota Hunting Seasons
- Pheasant: (mid-October to late October. Preserve season, September through March)
- Partridge: (mid-September to mid-December)
- Dove: (September to mid-October)
- Rabbit & Squirrel: (September through February)
- Ruffed Grouse: (Mid-September to mid-December)
- Geese: (October to late December)
- Black Hills Deer: Firearm (November) Archery (October)
- Antelope: Firearm (early October) Archery (mid-August through October)
- Turkey: Fall Black Hills turkey (October through December in prairie units) Spring: (April through May)
Much like the landscape, the fishing in western South Dakota is a unique experience. There are 14 mountain lakes and hundreds of streams brimming with brown, brook and rainbow trout. Most waters are regularly stocked, but quality habitat has also allowed wild trout to thrive.
Anglers will also find more than 50,000 stock dams, brimming with largemouth bass, northern pike and a variety of panfish. However, many of the stock dams are on private property and anglers need to secure permission before casting their line.
Things to Remember about Fishing in Custer and the Black Hills:
- The fishing season never closes in South Dakota but anglers are required to obtain a fishing license. You may buy it online from the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks Office or from an authorized agent. Click here for a listing of agents in the Custer.
- The statewide daily trout limit is five, but in the Black Hills only one trout that is 14 inches or longer may be part of the daily limit.
For all your fishing needs:
Custer Bait & Tackle
1021 Mt. Rushmore Road, Custer
Your one stop bait shop with a variety of live baits including minnows, leaches, creek chubs, sucker chubs, night crawlers, red wigglers, and neon green night crawlers!
Custer County Fishing Areas
- Battle Creek (brown trout)
- Beaver Creek (brown trout)
- Berner (bullhead)
- Bismarck Lake (rainbow trout, perch)
- Center Lake (rainbow trout)
- Cheyenne River (catfish, sauger, smallmouth bass)
- Custer Municipal Pond (rainbow trout)
- French Creek (brown trout, rainbow trout)
- Grace Coolidge Dam (rainbow trout)
- Iron Creek (brown trout)
- Lakota Biltmore Lake (rainbow trout, brook trout)
- Legion Lake (rainbow trout)
- Stockade Beaver Creek (brook trout)
- Stockade Lake (perch, bullhead, black crappie small and largemouth bass)
- Sylvan Lake (rainbow trout)