Rhode Island Freshwater Fishing
On behalf of Governor Gina Raimondo, I am happy to introduce the 2021 Freshwater Fishing Regulation Guide.
This guide is for those who are new to the sport as well as seasoned anglers and boaters. It provides current freshwater fishing and recreational boating regulations and highlights the research and survey initiatives, fishing access improvements and fishing opportunities provided by the Division of Fish & Wildlife biologists, development and hatchery staff to support excellent recreational opportunities in Rhode Island. It even has information on how youngsters can get a First Fish Award for their first catch!
Fishing is a popular outdoor activity for Rhode Islanders and tourists alike. Rhode Island is known for its excellent and varied angling and boating opportunities. In the pursuit of largemouth and smallmouth bass, trout, northern pike (our largest freshwater game fish), or a variety of warm-water species and pan fish such as black crappie, yellow perch, sunfish and pickerel, freshwater fishing in Rhode Island is a year-round activity. The excitement of fishing for trout on Opening Day and throughout the year, including fall trout fishing and winter ice fishing, ensures a great family activity for people of all ages.
DEM’s hatchery program stocks over 100 fishing areas with brook, rainbow, golden rainbow, brown, and tiger trout several times a year to accommodate the growing demand by resident and non-resident anglers. Lucky anglers may even catch a Sebago salmon during one of our special fish-stocking programs. Throughout the year, our dedicated hatchery personnel are busy with initiatives to provide varied and plentiful fishing opportunities for recreational anglers.
For those who would like to try the sport, we encourage you to participate during Free Fishing Days on May 1 and May 2, when you can fish without the purchase of a fishing license or trout stamp. New or experienced anglers may also participate in one of our adult or children’s Aquatic Resource Education (ARE) programs to hone their fishing skills or learn new ones like spin-casting or fly-fishing with our friendly and experienced instructors.
As we embark on the upcoming freshwater fishing season, I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the changes we made in 2020 so that anglers could safely fish for trout during the Covid 19 public health emergency. To reduce the number of people fishing at any given time and mitigate crowds, DEM staggered the days when licensed anglers could fish, asked anglers to fish alone or with just their household members and maintain a distance from others, and wear a mask. Rhode Islanders took solace in being able to get out and fish during a difficult time and allowed us to keep trout season open by respecting the rules. Rhode Island has beautiful fishing and boating access areas that are part of a healthy outdoors and that help raise our collective moral, particularly in these challenging times.
Recreational fishing is important to Rhode Island’s economy, contributing more than $130 million annually. There are an estimated 175,000 recreational anglers (age 16+) in Rhode Island, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
We appreciate Rhode Island’s angling and boating community. This publication is made possible with your support and belongs to you. Recreational freshwater fishing and boating programs are funded by the USFWS Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration Act (Wallop-Breaux Amendment) through contributions from anglers and boaters on the sales of equipment, motorboat fuels, license sales and Trout Stamps. As Director, I sincerely thank all the sportsmen and sportswomen who have contributed to this valuable conservation program.
We hope this guide enhances your fishing and boating experiences and that you feel encouraged to get out there and enjoy Rhode Island’s picturesque fishing areas and the tranquility and connection to nature that fishing and boating provide. Whether you have been fishing all your life, getting back into the sport, or trying it for the first time, we guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Tight lines, everyone!
Janet Coit, Director