“This is a Snorkeling & Spearfishing 101 class,” said Jason Nelson, an Outdoor Campus outreach coordinator with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. “We teach the ins and outs of the gear needed, fish species, as well as some beginner techniques.”

This pop-up class is available when interested people reach out to schedule their participation and is the only spearfishing class available through Outdoor Campus, though you can find many other fun classes on their website.

Taking place on private Lake Lorraine, students meet near water in the CarForSale.com parking lot before walking down a hill to meet Nelson with all the gear. Outdoor Campus has a partnership with the lake owners, who allow them to use it for classes like these. All participants must sign waivers.

He walks them through the gear, what it’s used for, where to get it, and other must-know information as he assists them in finding a life jacket, swim fins, and a mask that fits their body. Snorkels have a more universal fit, so each student is issued one of those as well without hassle.

“We have different sizes of fins for different sizes of feet,” said Nelson. “The same is true for masks. Masks are not one-size-fits-all because our faces are all different.”

When sizing life jackets, make sure to pay attention to the weight limit on the tags. When in doubt, check with the instructor for the safest option.

“We get all the gear on and get comfortable snorkeling, and then once we start seeing fish, we’ll start trying to shoot fish,” said Nelson.

“It’s such a fun and easy class. It’s another really fun avenue to get outside.” -Jason Nelson

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Students will wade into the water backwards with the fins strapped on before propelling themselves around the top of the lake, gazing down through the mask in search of fish.

“In this class, you don’t need to be a great swimmer; the fins and the life jacket take care of all that,” said Nelson. “Participants shouldn’t be worried about being scared to try this activity. It is very fun, relaxing, and can be a great open water activity.”

Nelson is a certified master scuba diver and a hobby spearfisherman. He’s always prepared to be proactive if need be.

After they’ve acclimated to the water, Nelson will hand out the pole spears, which are much safer for the students than the spearguns that he uses himself.


Lake Lorraine is privately owned and is not open to the general public. Outdoor Campus has a partnership with the Lake Lorraine developers for pop-up classes.

“These pole spears are one piece, and they are designed to use the rubber band to spring the pole and spear forward,” he said. “So you’ve gotta get pretty close to the fish, but with snorkeling it’s very possible.”

For big fish like full-grown bass, there’s a double-barbed tip. For smaller fish like bluegills, there’s the three-pronged tip.

“For the most up-to-date information, check out the 2022 fishing handbook or our website for spearfishing rules and regulations.” -Jason Nelson

“Our students must have a current fishing license to take the class,” said Nelson. “If they are successful in harvesting fish, we will cover how to clean them and prepare them for the table. They are more than welcome to take the fish home.”

Known species in Lake Lorraine include northern pike, largemouth bass, crappies, perch, and bluegills.

“We also talk a little bit about where you can and can’t do this in South Dakota because it’s not open everywhere,” said Nelson. “We do some fish identification because we are harvesting fish. It’s very important that we can identify what we’re shooting at before we pull the trigger.”

For more information, visit GFP.SD.GOV.


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