General Information

Fishing Regulations Rhode Island Freshwater Fishing

Prohibited Activities:

  1. Fishing in any freshwater stream or pond within this state without a valid fishing license (except as noted on License Information).
  2. Fishing in any stream, designated trout stream or designated trout pond of the state, unless otherwise regulated, between midnight on last day of February to 6AM on the second Saturday of April, annually.
  3. Possessing trout, salmon, or charr during the seasonal closure.
  4. Using corn for bait in any designated trout waters.
  5. Chumming in any designated trout waters.
  6. Snagging fish in any fresh waters.
  7. Using any substance injurious to fish life in any stream or freshwater pond within the state except by permit issued by the DEM.
  8. Detonating any explosive within any stream or freshwater pond within the state.
  9. Selling trout, largemouth or smallmouth bass, pickerel, northern pike, Atlantic salmon, American shad, or yellow perch taken from any freshwater stream, river, or pond within the state.
  10. Stocking any freshwater stream or pond, public or private, within the state with ANY species of fish without having first obtained a permit from the DEM. For more information, call (401) 789-0281.
  11. Releasing any live bait into the freshwaters of the state.
  12. The use as bait of any variety of gold fish (Carassius auratus) in the fresh waters of the State.
  13. The importation, sale, or possession of any variety of non-native fish, including, but not limited to goldfish (Carassius auratus), green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), or fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) for use as bait in the fresh waters in the State.
  14. Selling any live freshwater minnows for bait or possessing more than one hundred (100) live freshwater minnows without first having procured the appropriate license from the DEM.
  15. Tagging, branding, marking, or otherwise willfully mutilating any fish which is to be released alive into any freshwaters of the state except by special permit issued by the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
  16. It is prohibited that any person use foot gear with external felt soles or other natural or synthetic porous material capable of absorbing liquid that is attached to the soles of wading foot gear in any freshwaters of the state. This shall include any waters shared with adjacent states in which any RI Fishing regulations apply.

Fish Consumption Advisory

Since 1986, the FDA has issued warnings about mercury levels in various fish including freshwater species. The RI DEM and Department of Health wants our anglers to be familiar with the following information:

Fish is Good

  • Fish is a good source of protein.
  • Fish has many vitamins and minerals.
  • Fish is low in fat.
  • Fish can be part of a healthy diet, A healthy diet helps children grow and develop properly.

Mercury is Bad

  • Mercury is a type of metal found in nature. It is used in thermometers, batteries, lamps, and other products. Sometimes mercury gets into ponds, lakes, rivers, soil, and air through pollution.
  • When mercury pollutes the water, it can get into the fish where they live. If you eat fish with mercury, it can harm your baby when you are pregnant or breast feeding.
  • Babies born to mothers who have a lot of mercury in their bodies may develop more slowly and have problems learning. Young Children can also be harmed by mercury.
  • High levels of mercury in the body can cause harm to an adult’s kidneys and brain.
  • You cannot see, taste, or smell mercury in fish. Mercury cannot be cut away, cleaned or cooked out of fish. The best way to avoid mercury is to know which fish to choose and how much to eat.

Advice for those who fish:

  • Choose stocked trout to eat. See Trout Waters for trout stocking locations.
  • Vary where and what types of fish you eat.
  • Eat smaller fish (in accordance with RIDEM size limits).
  • Avoid fish with the most mercury: bass, pike, and pickerel.
  • Limit meals of black crappie and eel to one meal per month.
  • Do not fish in private ponds, with no public access and those that are not stocked by the state.
  • Trout from private vendors stocked into private ponds may be eaten.
  • Do not eat any fish from the following ponds (with the exception of trout): Yawgoog Pond, Windcheck Pond, Meadowbrook Pond, Quidnick Reservoir, and the lower Woonasquatucket.
  • Catch and release fishing is recommended in Mashapaug Pond and the Woonasquatucket River along with other urban ponds and rivers.
  • Pregnant women and young children should limit their fish intake to include those fish that have tested low in mercury: stocked trout, salmon, light tuna, shrimp, Pollock and catfish.

For more information:

Visit http://www.health.ri.gov/healthrisks/poisoning/mercury/about/fish/ or call the Health Hotline at 1-800-942-7434.Freshwater Fishing Area Restrictions

  1. FLY FISHING ONLY: The following waters are restricted to the use of artificial flies, a conventional fly rod, and a single action reel: Deep Pond (Arcadia), Exeter; A.L. Mowry, Smithfield; Upper Rochambeau Pond, Lincoln.
  2. CHILDREN ONLY: The following waters are restricted to fishing by persons fourteen (14) years of age and younger: Lloyd Kenney Pond, Hopkinton; *Slater Park Pond, Pawtucket; Lapham Pond, Burrillville; Silvy’s Pond, Cumberland; *Ponderosa Park Pond, Little Compton; Seidel’s Pond, Cranston; *Cass Pond, Woonsocket; Frosty Hollow Pond, Exeter; Geneva Brook and Pond, N. Providence.Please note the following: * Cass, Slater Park, and Ponderosa Park Ponds are restricted only for the first two days of the season, the 14th & 15th of April 2018, FOR CHILDREN ONLY.

Natural Shorelines are Good for Fishing

By keeping shorelines natural, you can help protect water quality and improve fish habitat. A shoreline without trees and shrubs can get washed away, making the water muddy and unsuitable for fish. If you live near a lake or a river, plant a buffer strip along the water’s edge using trees, shrubs, wildflowers or other native plants. Trees and other vegetation filter pollution and provide shade, shelter, habitat, and food critical for bass, trout, and other fish to thrive and reproduce. Keep your favorite fishing spots well vegetated! For more tips and information, visit http://water.epa.gov/type/lakes/index.cfm

Diadromous Fish Regulations

  1. No person shall land, catch, take or attempt to catch or take any river herring, which includes alewives, Alosa pseudoharengus or blueback herring, Alosa aestivalis, from any freshwater or marine waters of the state of Rhode Island. Possession of any alewives or blueback herring, at any time, is prohibited and shall be evidence, prima facie, that said herring was taken in violation of this regulation.
  2. No person shall erect any artificial obstruction to fish passage in any stream or in any way alter the natural stream bottom to hinder the passage of fish.


    No person shall take any American shad (Alosa sapidissima) from the fresh waters of the state or possess any American shad taken from the freshwaters of the state.


    No person shall take any Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) from the Pawcatuck River downstream of the Potter Hill Dam.


    No person shall take any smelt (Osmerus mordax) by any means from any stream or river system in the state.

    American Eel:

    The creel or possession limit for American eel (Anguilla rostrata) shall be twenty-five (25) fish per day, per person, either singular or in aggregate, and the minimum size shall be nine (9) inches from tip of snout to tip of tail. No person shall take an eel from the freshwaters of the state unless in possession of a valid RI Freshwater Fishing License. No American eel may be commercially harvested from the freshwaters of the state and offered for sale without a valid commercial license per RI Marine Fisheries (RIMF) regulations. If harvesting commercially with a valid commercial fishing license from the freshwater of the state, fishermen must adhere to regulations as set forth in RIMF regulations Part VII (Minimum Sizes of Fish/Shellfish), section 7.16.1.

    Fish Ladders:

  1. Trespass within or any obstruction of the entrance or exit of any fish ladder in the state is prohibited.
  2. For the purpose of regulating diadromous fishes, all fish ladders owned and operated by the state will be set aside as fish cultivation facilities pursuant to Chapters 20-12-1 and 20-12-5 of the General Laws of the State of Rhode Island.
  3. No person shall catch or attempt to catch any fish within one-half mile (1/2 mile) from the outlet of any fish ladder unless otherwise permitted. The areas below each fish ladder where fishing will be permitted shall be designated with an official boundary marker or informational sign.

Protect Our Native Species from Disease and Invansives


By taking fish from either in-state or out-of-state water bodies and placing it in another body of water in RI, you risk introducing disease and parasites to native fish. You also risk introducing invasive species to that waterway. Invasive species overtake the native species and significantly alter stream ecology. For more information or for stocking permits, please call (401) 789-7481.

Rhode Island Environmental Police

The mission of the Environmental Police is to protect our natural resources and ensure compliance with all environmental conservation laws through law enforcement and education.

The history of the Environmental Police dates back to 1842 when the first game wardens were appointed to the Commission of Shellfisheries.

Today, Rhode Island’s Environmental Police Officers are sworn law enforcement officers who are responsible for patrolling and enforcing all laws, rules and regulations pertaining to the state’s fish, wildlife, boating safety and marine resources as well as all criminal and motor vehicle laws within the state parks and management areas. Officers patrol over 60,000 acres of state land, 92 salt and freshwater boat launching and fishing areas, 300 miles of rivers and streams, and 417 miles of coastline. They are also cross-deputized with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service. During their patrols, they educate the public on the protection of our natural resources and provide safety for the public while enjoying Rhode Island’s outdoors.

To report emergencies or violations,
call (401) 222-3070, 24hr line.

The Ethical Angler:

  1. Keeps only the fish he needs.
  2. Does not pollute; properly disposes of trash or
    packs it back.
  3. Hones angling and boating skills.
  4. Observes angling and boating safety regulations.
  5. Respects other anglers’ rights.
  6. Respects property owners’ rights.
  7. Passes on knowledge and angling skills to
    friends and family.
  8. Supports local conservation efforts.
  9. Does not release live bait, non-native plants, fish or invertebrates, into RI waters. It’s against the law.
  10. Does not leave offal from cleaning fish at fishing sites, on land or in the water; instead, packs it back or buries it out of sight.
  11. Promotes the sport of angling.
  12. Does not transport any invasive plant, fish, or invertebrate from one water body to another.


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.


Wheelchair Accessible Fishing Areas in Rhode Island

Carbuncle Pond – Coventry

Gorton Pond – Warwick

Lower Shannock Brook – Richmond

Silver Spring Lake – North Kingstown

Upper Roaring Brook – Exeter

Westerly Boat Ramp – Westerly

Olney Pond – Lincoln



Hypothermia is a condition in which the body loses heat faster than it can be produced. This causes a dangerous reduction of the body’s inner temperature. Hypothermia results from exposure to wind and wetness. A victim of hypothermia may become blue-gray in color. Violent shivering develops which may give way to muscle spasms and even loss of the use of arms and legs. Confusion and drunken-like behavior also indicate that a person may be hypothermic.

To protect yourself, avoid the conditions that cause hypothermia. Dress warm and stay dry. Know the effects the wind has on cold weather. It may be 40 F (7 C) outside with the sun shining, but a 10 mph wind lowers the wind-chill temperature to 28 F (-2 C). Refer to the Hypothermia Table to see the general effects cold water temperatures have on the body.

When a person falls into cold water, there are ways to increase the chances of survival. Don’t discard clothing; it helps trap the body’s heat. Minimize movement; thrashing around in cold water only leads to exhaustion, and swirling water takes heat from the body more rapidly than still water. Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) which will help for two reasons: it lessens the need to move around in the water and it helps to insulate against heat loss. When wearing a PFD, a person should draw their knees into a position known as HELP (Heat Escape Lessening Posture). If there are several people in the water, huddling together with arms around each other’s shoulders is the best survival technique.

Treatment for hypothermia involves getting heat back into the body and raising the inner temperature. Skin-to-skin contact and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (even when the victim is conscious) are excellent ways to transfer heat. Do not give alcohol or massage a person vigorously to treat hypothermia; a hot bath is fine for mild cases but never if the victim is unconscious. For further information, contact your local Red Cross Chapter.

If the water temperature (F) is…

Exhaustion or unconsciousness occurs within…

Expected survival time is…

less than 32.5 less than 15 minutes less than 45 minutes
32.5-40.0 15-40 minutes 30-90 minutes
40-50 30-60 minutes 1-3 hours
50-60 1-2 hours 1-6 hours
60-70 2-7 hours 2-40 hours
70-80 3-12 hours 3-indefinitely
over 80 indefinitely indefinitely


Catch a Golden Trout…Get a Golden Pin!

RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife hatcheries will again be stocking the golden rainbow trout on our Free Fishing weekend, May 5th and 6th, 2018!

If you catch a golden trout in any of the Rhode Island ponds throughout 2018, send in your pictures and receive a golden trout pin. Contact Jessica Pena at jessica.pena@dem.ri.gov or 401-539-0019 for more information.

RIDEM Fish and Wildlife has previously stocked golden trout in the following ponds: Silver Spring Lake in North Kingstown, Meadow Brook Pond and Carolina Trout Pond in Richmond, Round Top Ponds and Peck Pond in Burrillville, Brickyard Pond in Barrington, Upper Mellville Pond in Portsmouth, Tiogue Lake in Coventry, and Browning Mill Pond in Exeter. Stay tuned for our 2018 stocking locations!