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GF&P Commission Hesitates to Strike One-Day Discount for Visiting Anglers

Visitors to South Dakota have three options to legally fish in South Dakota. They can pay $92 for an annual license, $62 for a three-day license, or $16 for a one-day license. The annual and three-day licenses include a $25 nonresident Habitat Stamp, sales of which to fishers, hunters, and trappers generate around $5 million a year that the state uses to restore and improve wildlife habitat so we have more fish to hook and cook.

Many visitors may not be aware of the good those Habitat Stamp dollars do. They just look at the final price tag and realize that they can buy three one-day licenses for $48 and get the same amount of fishing as they can for a $62 three-day license. They save $14, which will get them a 12-pack of Miller Lite and a can of beans at Dakotamart.

Those price savings accrue only the first visit; people only have to buy one Habitat Stamp per year; on subsequent visits, three-day anglers pay $37 for their long-weekend licenses. So for two three-day fishing trips, six one-day licenses cost $96 and two three-day licenses cost $99. Come a third time, and the one-day license trick no longer saves money.

But the state is losing a revenue opportunity on those one-time visitors, who should share our interest in protecting and enhancing habitat. The Game Fish and Parks Commission is trying to work up the courage to apply a more sensible “buy more save more” pricing scheme to its non-resident fishing licenses, but they just can’t work up the courage to do so:

Amid debates about tourism and the fairness of fees for in-state anglers vs. out-of-staters, the Game, Fish and Parks Commission postponed its anticipated vote Thursday in Madison on the elimination of non-resident, one-day licenses.

“I think it’s a good move to step back,” said Commission Chair Stephanie Rissler.

The commission had already postponed the decision in October to allow for more public comment, after a rush of comments arrived prior to that meeting.

“And to no surprise, we did get more dialogue,” said GF&P Wildlife Director Tom Kirschenmann.

Sixty-four comments about the proposal were submitted to the commission, with the majority in opposition to eliminating the one-day license.

GF&P staff, after hearing from the tourism and outdoor-guiding industry and others concerned about the policy change, advised the commission to table the decision in favor of a more comprehensive review [Joshua Haiar, “Tourism and Fairness Concerns Delay Decision on Fishing-License Oddity,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.11.02].

Hey, GF&P Commission! This shouldn’t be hard. Just require every angler to buy a Habitat Stamp. The one-day anglers from Minnesota and elsewhere would pay $41 for their first dip in our ponds, and their subsequent one-day fishing trips would cost only $16 a pop. If you think one-day fishers don’t need to pay as much toward preserving the habitat that they enjoy, then create a one-day Habitat Stamp charging nonresidents $10 a pop.

Sure, there may be some tourism incentive to hand out one-day licenses for cheap. But the state’s pricing scheme for fishing licenses should not encourage people to avoid paying their fair share to support the habitat that makes their trip worthwhile. Strike the one-day discount.


  1. John 2023-11-03 09:28

    Hahahaha, more evidence of the ‘gang that couldn’t shoot straight’.
    The fishing license ought to be tied to the regulations. For most species the possession limit is 2 daily limits. It would make sense to scrap both the 1 and 3 day license for a $32 or $50 2-day license. Screw the Habitat Stamp – the stamp was merely a gimmick to increase license fees without the commission and GFP having to SAY they were increasing license fees.

    It’s likely that most non-resident fishers drag boats from IA, NE, or MN to the northeast lakes to Missouri River impoundments . . . they can afford a higher priced license.

  2. grudznick 2023-11-04 18:26

    Unfortunately Mr. H isn’t eligible to be in this commission or grudznick would be lobbing hard to make that happen. Mr. H would be a great South Dakota Commissioner of the hunting and fishing.

  3. Arlo Blundt 2023-11-04 19:51

    Yup, GFP is mostly focused on raising money, for conservation, they say, but most of their efforts just don’t make much sense. Eutrophic Lakes, covered with scum, are a toxic environment for game fish. Maybe they could work on that before we start plowing under the Glacial Lakes.

  4. jerry 2023-11-05 06:32

    Actually pond scum is edible and a sustainable food for the future. South Dakota game and fish could harvest that scum (not NOem or the rest of the maga’s) to preserve fish habitat and have a side hustle in agriculture. “From kale and quinoa to goji berries and acai, we are living in the era of superfoods. Powering our bodies and minds with exotic fruits and whole grains certainly makes sense, but who knew algae could provide such a generous serving of health boosts and benefits? Yes, for real, “pond scum” or as it’s referred to more formally, spirulina, is actually king when it comes to superfoods, and here’s why you should be incorporating this antioxidant-rich, blue-green plant into your diet daily.”

    26% more calcium than the milk that NOem and the crooks want to produce in their CAFO. Pond Scum, what’s not to like??? Oh yeah, the name.

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