Rhode Island Freshwater Fishing
Scott Travers, Technical Staff Assistant – ARE Program – RIDEM Fish and Wildlife
The State of Rhode Island is a fantastic place for the outdoor enthusiast, especially if the outdoorsman or woman is an angler. Whether you are surf casting off the Charlestown Breachway, trolling the Sakonnet River, or bait casting in Peck’s Pond, there are a tremendous variety of fishing opportunities for both fresh and salt water anglers. Whether you are a freshwater angler, saltwater angler, or both, might I suggest upping your game with a little fly fishing this year?
Many anglers have tried or at least heard of fly fishing; however, if you look at the entire angling community, only a fraction actually participate in fly fishing. Unlike other forms of fishing, fly fishing involves learning to cast a lightweight fly, using the weight of the fly line itself to send the fly to the desired location in the water. The angler then must learn how to retrieve – or strip – the line in so that the fly gives a lifelike appearance to the fish, set the hook properly when the fish strikes, and bring the fish to the net. The seeming complexity of fly fishing has kept many anglers from even attempting the sport.
Unbeknownst to the average angler, the fly fishing process may be as simple, or as involved, as you make it. Some fly anglers enjoy stopping by the local fly shop, buy a few flies with a little guidance by other locals, and then hitting the streamside with some new flies and the latest available inside knowledge at to what the fish are hitting on. Others enjoy heading straight to the water early, taking their time observing nature, identifying the macroinvertebrate life that is present, maybe identifying a hatch that is happening, selecting the appropriate fly, casting to the right location, and stripping the line to make that fly come to life enough to fool that fish of a life time. Personally, I enjoy creating various fly patterns using basic items (hooks, thread, fur, feathers, etc.) then selecting that certain one out of the variety I have made, and catching fish. Anyway you choose to practice fly fishing, It can be a very rewarding experience. With a little information and plenty of practice anyone can learn the art of fly fishing.
So, are you ready to begin fly fishing? For over 20 years, the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Aquatic Resource Education (ARE) program has offered both fresh and salt water fly fishing and fly tying opportunities throughout the state, with the dedicated help of volunteers from Northern and Southern RI Trout Unlimited Chapters, United Fly Tyers, Rhody Fly Rodders, Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association, Narragansett Surf Casters, Wood River Fly Fishing and many others. Recently, however, those opportunities have been expanded and there is something available for novice, intermediate and experienced fly fishing anglers. These programs include:
Community Fly Tying/Fly Fishing: Throughout the spring and summer months various community centers and libraries will be holding fly tying classes one night per week for a series of 3-4 weeks. Participants will tie their own flies which will then be used at a private fishing event to be held later in year. Libraries and community centers who participated in the program last year include Lincoln, North Smithfield, Hopkinton, Middletown, Portsmouth, and the Riverside Sportsman’s Club in East Providence. This year we hope to expand the program to include even more communities.
Family Fly Fishing and Women’s Fly Fishing Days: Offered in the spring, both of these days are sponsored by both Northern and Southern Trout Unlimited Chapters, Wood River Fly Fishers and United Fly Tyers. Both are designed to offer a relaxed learning environment at the Carolina Trout Hatchery, the oldest continuously running hatchery country. Participants will learn how to tie flies, cast with a fly line, and catch fish at a stocked pond that is not normally open to the public. Fly rods are provided by the ARE program; however, participants may use their own if they choose. The event is free and registration is required.
Cinder Worm Workshop: Also offered in the spring USF&W, RIDEM, and several volunteer organizations will be conducting a salt water fly fishing program at the Kettle Pond Visitor Center at Ninigret. If you are a salt water angler and/or want to try your hand at salt water fly fishing, this annual event is a tremendous opportunity. Participants will learn how to tie flies that imitate the cinder worm, which hatches in the mud at Ninigret during only one season. After a few sessions learning about the cinder worm and tying several flies, participants are welcomed to try their flies alongside their instructors in the water at Ninigret. Waders are provided by Both USF&W and the ARE program, and fly rods are provided by the ARE program; however, participants may use their own gear if they choose.
Introduction to Freshwater Fly Fishing: Mid-spring, the ARE program will host their annual ‘Introduction to Freshwater Fly Fishing’ at Addieville East Farm with volunteers from various fishing organizations. The daylong workshop begins with learning the basics of fly fishing and fly tying and concludes with fishing the stocked pond. All of the materials and equipment are provided by the Aquatic Resource Education program. Registration is required and a small lunch fee applies.
Kid’s Fly Fishing Day: In the fall, the ARE program will offer a youth fly fishing event at the Caroline Trout Hatchery. Sponsored by Wood River Fly Fishing, Northern and Southern Trout Unlimited Chapters, and United Fly Tyers, the program is geared toward young adults between the ages of 10 and 17. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to help participants tie flies, cast lines, and catch fish in the stocked pond at the Carolina Trout Hatchery. The ARE program will provide fly rods however participants may use their own if they choose.
Kid’s Day on the Blackstone: Also in the fall the ARE program and the Blackstone Heritage Corridor along with several volunteer organizations will be hosting a separate youth fly fishing event on the Blackstone River. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to help participants tie flies, cast lines, and catch fish.
Introduction to Saltwater Fly Fishing: Mid-spring, the ARE program will host their annual ‘Introduction to Saltwater Fly Fishing’ along the Narrow River with volunteers from various fishing organizations. The daylong workshop begins with learning the basics of fly fishing and fly tying and concludes with fishing the stocked pond. All of the materials and equipment are provided by the Aquatic Resource Education program. Participants are asked to bring waders, registration is required and a small lunch fee applies.
Fly Fishing Express: Do you have some fly fishing experience? This unique saltwater safari experience invites anglers aboard the Old Colony Train in Middletown to fish various remote areas around Aquidneck Island. Equipment and instructors are on hand to hone your fly fishing skills. Participants are asked to bring waders, registration is required and a small lunch fee applies.
Fall Fly Tying: If you like to tie flies, whether a beginner or an intermediate tyer, this six week workshop is for you. Volunteers from various fishing groups will offer their expertise on tying both freshwater and saltwater flies. Registration is required and a workshop fee applies.
While dates are not set for the various programs, updated information on dates, locations, and other information can be located on the RI DEM website. Persons seeking additional information may contact Scott Travers at email@example.com.
The Aquatic Resource Education (ARE) Program:
In 1986, the Division of Fish and Wildlife introduced the Aquatic Resource Education program to Rhode Islanders. Funded through the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Program and supported by the Wallop-Breaux Amendment of 1984, the program was designed to “enhance the public’s understanding of aquatic resources and sport fishing, and to promote the development of responsible attitudes and ethics toward the aquatic environment.” Over the past 30 years, RI’s Aquatic Resource Education Program (ARE) has evolved to provide Rhode Islanders with a chance to become stewards of their waterways through a variety of teacher training workshops, fishing programs, ecology, conservation, and aquaculture programs.
For more information about the various educational opportunities available through the Aquatic Resource Education program, please contact Kimberly Sullivan, ARE Coordinator, at (401) 539-0019 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For upcoming ARE events, visit www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/fwevents.htm. We can also be found on Facebook: RI Fish and Wildlife Outdoor Education.
Fluorescent Orange Requirement
All users of State Management Areas are required to wear 200 square inches of solid daylight flourescent orange, worn above the waist and visible in all directions from the second Saturday in September to the last day of February and the third Saturday in April to the last day of May annually, and during established mourning dove season and wild turkey season. 500 square inches is required by all users of management areas and undeveloped state parks during all portions of shotgun deer seasons. Flourescent camouflage does not meet these requirements. The hunter orange must be worn above the waist and be visible in all directions. Examples are a hat that covers 200 square inches or a combination of a hat and vest covering 500 square inches.