This blog is designed to highlight the paddling opportunities within South Dakota, mainly within a 50-mile radius of Sioux Falls. While Sioux Falls is far from the adventure of coastal regions, there is a certain satisfaction in utilizing the available waterways to observe weather, water conditions, and the landscape along the shoreline. In addition, there is a wealth of animal life on the waters of small South Dakota lakes, rivers, and creeks, including geese, ducks, pelicans, great blue heron, egrets, hawks, owls, perching birds, deer, raccoons, and beaver. Eagles, fox, and coyote are also sometimes spotted.

The sites described are places where I have kayaked over the past few years, mostly in South Dakota but sometimes including locations in Iowa and Minnesota. One of the best sources of information on the accessibility of small lakes is the South Dakota Atlas and Gazetteer, the large map book of South Dakota. Lakes with a public access are generally identified by a boat symbol marking the location of a launching site on public land.

You will notice the menu of paddling locations on the right side of the blog. Each of the postings is linked to one of the areas, and my intention is to provide a continuing review of the places where I paddle. Perhaps these narratives will help readers select waterways of interest to them. Please feel free to offer a comment regarding any of my postings; I would welcome the dialog.

I also maintain a companion blog that describes hiking opportunities within the Sioux Falls area. You can access that blog at:

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Lake Alvin: September 2011


With a wonderful early fall forecast ahead after the Labor Day cruise on Monday, I just left my kayak on the car ready for another cruise this week. So, this morning I headed out to the very familiar waters of Lake Alvin for a trip along the shoreline.


Putting in at the southwestern public access site, the lake was deserted. Unable to resist my habitual path, I headed south into Nine Mile Creek and continued upstream for about 30 minutes.


The depth of the channel was satisfactory along this route, although some attention had to be paid to avoiding grounding at times. I was able to continue upstream on the creek nearly to the point where it becomes too shallow and rocky most of the year. So, the creek is deep enough still for kayaks to move up on the usual route for about a mile and a-half.


I like moving up and down these narrow creeks with high banks, with deep native grasses and wildflowers and the dappled shade provided by trees along the bank. Unlike the spring cruises on Nine Mile Creek, there was no waterfowl to be seen today and only a few other birds. I did see some turtles and a couple of muskrat and lots of butterflies, dragonflies, and bees flitting among the yellow wildflowers.


After returning from my creek cruise, I continued north into the main body of Lake Alvin. Moving in the shade along the eastern shore, I paddled north, peering into the vegetation along the shore.


It was not until I arrived in the northern half of the lake, across from the recreation area boat launch, that I saw any other human activity. A fishing boat was putting into the lake as I passed and there were a few cars parked in the lot. I came across a fisherman casting from his boat and spoke to him. He was startled and said that I must have snuck up on him.


As I continued north, I came across a strange looking boat. It had a high pulpit around the bow and an arm extending out from the bow with a round looking device suspended from a cable. There were two guys in the boat, and one was using a net. As I approached the boat, I asked what kind of rig they were using. One of the guys told me that they were “electro-fishing” and were from SDSU on a research project. Apparently, they were stunning fish with a shock of some sort, netting them, and then measuring and perhaps tagging them. They told me that it would be a good idea if I stood off from their boat, presumably to avoid being shocked by the device.


Continuing on, I moved along the eastern shore to the northern end of the lake and then began my cruise back to the south end. As I passed the public swimming beach, I saw a couple of people exercising their dogs in the sand, retrieving something from the water.


The cruise this morning was under really ideal conditions. It was sunny, the temperature was about 68 degrees, and there was a light wind out of the south. The lake was quite clean. I had to search to find my cruise quota of five pieces of debris, generally plastic bottles. There was very little algae on the surface, and the lake is likely to become even clearer as the fall deepens. I had a fun two hours on my morning cruise.


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