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Rhode Island

Freshwater Fishing

Beaver River

Catch and Release in the Beaver River: Set Aside for Rhode Island’s Wild Salmonid

By Corey Pelletier, Senior Biologist - Freshwater Fisheries

In July of 2021 the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) amended its stocking regulations to remove the Beaver River from the list of Trout Stocked waters. Along with the removal from this list, the Beaver River was also designated as catch and release only with the use of a single, barbless hook and artificial bait. This is only the second stream in Rhode Island to be designated as a catch and release area, second to the Falls River in the Arcadia Management Area.

This may seem drastic as few locations have been removed from this list in recent years. Much thought and consideration went into this management action. The Beaver River is home to a population of wild Brook Trout which can be found throughout much of the river from its confluence with the Pawcatuck River, upstream several miles to Tug Hollow Pond Dam at New London Turnpike. Wild brook trout found here commonly range between 5-8 inches, with some reaching over 10 inches. Until July of 2021, the Beaver River has historically been stocked with hatchery-raised brown, rainbow, and brook trout species at Shannock Hill Road, Beaver River Schoolhouse Road and Route 138, in the Town of Richmond. Many sections of the river between the stocked locations are privately owned and have densely vegetated riparian zones which makes fishing access difficult.

In recent years, DFW has conducted extensive data collection on fish populations and water quality throughout the river. In 2020, the Town of Richmond received a grant and hired a consulting firm to conduct a watershed assessment of the river and surrounding lands. Results from previous DFW data collection and data collected as part of this study, identified priority habitat for fish species including wild Brook Trout. The Beaver River is unique due to groundwater influence throughout the river which supports cold-water dependent species such as the Brook Trout. A series of dams and ponds which make up the headwaters of the Beaver River, contribute to warming of the water during summer months. This “thermal loading”, or heating of standing water from the sun, creates an issue for wild Brook Trout. They require cold, well oxygenated water to survive, and this warming effect forces them to migrate and find thermal refugia to survive through summer months. Through data collection, the coldest section of the Beaver River was found to be from the Hillsdale Road crossing downstream to Route 138. This is most important during summer months when water temperatures are at their warmest, limiting the available habitat which can support these fish.

The decision to cease stocking of hatchery raised trout will have positive impacts to the wild population of Brook Trout in the Beaver River. Habitat competition between hatchery raised and wild trout has been documented in research studies. The degree of impact in Rhode Island is largely unknown but we do know that wild Brook Trout populations persist in areas that have been stocked for generations. Despite this, removing introduced quantities of hatchery raised trout will only benefit the wild population of Brook Trout by allowing more habitat to be available, which may otherwise be occupied by stocked trout. Furthermore, ceasing stocking will eliminate any competition for food resources between hatchery stocked and wild trout. Wild Brook Trout in Rhode Island are listed as a species of greatest conservation need, indicating that efforts must be taken to maintain, protect and improve populations. The goal is to improve the quantity and quality of wild Brook Trout in the Beaver River while still allowing anglers to target these spunky yet beautiful fish. If you are a fan of catching large rainbow and brown trout raised at one of RI’s four trout hatcheries, do not worry! We will not be stocking any less trout. They just won’t be in the Beaver River.

Beaver River, Richmond - catch and release only, the portion from the confluence of the Beaver River and the Pawcatuck River, located downstream of Shannock Hill Road, Richmond, upstream to the New London Turnpike, Richmond, shall be designated as a ‘no kill’, ‘catch and release’, area. Fishing shall be permitted with artificial lures equipped with a single barbless hook or single barbed hook that has been crimped, and all fish caught shall be returned to the water immediately. The possession of any trout, salmon, or char while fishing shall be prima facie evidence that said trout, salmon, or charr was taken in violation of these Rules and Regulations.

Fishing Activities Requiring a Permit

1.18 Permits are required for organized fishing tournaments for state fishing and boating access areas and for the following private access areas: Johnson’s Pond (Flat River Reservoir) in Coventry, and Waterman Reservoir, Glocester. Permits are required for six (6) or more persons and/or three (3) or more boats. Applications for the issuance of a permit must be submitted to the Division a minimum of three (3) weeks prior to the tournament. An organization may cancel a permitted fishing activity without penalty as long as written notice of cancellation is received at least three (3) weeks prior to the event. Failure to provide timely written notice shall result in a one (1) year revocation of an organization’s eligibility to receive a permit for any organized fishing activity. Exceptions for unforeseen occurrences (e.g. weather, natural disaster) will apply at the discretion of the Division. The decision of revocation shall rest entirely with the Division. Permit applications may be obtained by contacting RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife, 277 Great Neck Road, West Kingston, RI 02892, Tel: (401) 789-7481. Applicants must complete all required information. The Division reserves the right to limit the number of activities per location, per day, time period, or deny a permit for reasons of overuse or conflict with other activities.

a. The applicant must indicate on the application whether the fishing activity is a ‘closed’ or an ‘open’ activity. A closed fishing activity is an event having a fixed or restricted number of participants. An open fishing activity is an event having an unrestricted number of participants.

1. If the tournament is closed, the number of boats, vehicles, and participants must be entered on the application. The permit must be retained on site by the sponsor along with the list of participants and boat registration numbers.

2. If the tournament is open, the names of all participants and registration numbers of each boat on the day of the tournament must be made available to RIDEM Division of Law Enforcement. An estimated count of all participants, vehicles and boats shall be forwarded to the Division at least five (5) days prior to the start of the tournament.

3. Regardless if a fishing tournament is ‘closed’ or ‘open’, the organization must provide a report to the Division within five (5) days of the termination of the tournament which includes: the number of hours fished, the number of boats, numbers of participants, and, as applicable, the total number of largemouth bass and smallmouth bass caught as well as the total weight of all largemouth bass and all smallmouth bass processed at weigh-in. This report may be sent as a letter to RIDEM Division of Fish and Wildlife or by completing the Bass Tournament Count Form. Failure to complete and submit the required information within five (5) days shall render the organization ineligible to conduct further organized fishing events for one year from the said event. Such revocation shall include any events for which a permit was previously issued.

b. Applicants requesting a permit for a municipal or private ramp shall be responsible to obtain additional permits for these areas, if necessary.

c. These regulations shall not be interpreted as superseding any special boat ramp or state management area regulations.

d. Permits along with lists of participants and boat registrations, if applicable, shall be available during the tournament for law enforcement purposes and must be clearly displayed in the windshield of the contact’s vehicle.

For more information, contact Alan Libby at alan.libby@dem.ri.gov or 401-789-0281

Children Only Ponds

Children Only (14 years of age and younger):

  • Frosty Hollow Pond - Exeter
  • Lapham Pond - Burrillville
  • *Scott Evans Memorial Pond (Biscuit City) - S. Kingstown
  • Seidel’s Pond - Cranston
  • Silvy’s Pond - Cumberland

    Children only ponds for the first two days of the trout season (April 9th & 10th):

  • Cass Pond - Woonsocket
  • Geneva Pond & Brook - North Providence
  • Ponderosa Park Pond - Little Compton
  • Slater Park Pond - Pawtucket

    Children Only Pond from April 9th through Memorial Day, May 30st:

  • Lloyd Kenney Pond - Hopkinton

    *Wheelchair accessible.