Skip to main content
Rhode Island

Freshwater Fishing

Freshwater Fishing

General Regulations

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 page 12 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 in freshwater, salmon, light tuna, shrimp, Pollock and catfish in marine waters.

For more information:

Visit https://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 Pond, Smithfield; Upper Rochambeau Pond, Lincoln.
  2. CHILDREN ONLY: The following waters are restricted to fishing by persons fourteen (14) years of age or younger: Frosty Hollow Pond, Exeter; Lapham Pond, Burrillville; Scott Evans Memorial Pond (Biscuit City), S. Kingstown; Seidel’s Pond, Cranston; Silvy’s Pond, Cumberland; Lloyd Keeney Pond, Hopkinton, from the 2nd Saturday in April through Memorial Day only. For the first two (2) days of the season April 9th & 10th) the following ponds are restricted to persons fourteen (14) years of age or younger: Cass Pond in Woonsocket, Geneva Pond and Brook in North Providence, Slater Park Pond in Pawtucket and Ponderosa Park Pond in Little Compton.

Diadromous Fish Regulations

  1. No person shall land, catch, take or attempt to catch or take any alewives (Alosa pseudoharengus) or blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) from any fresh waters 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.

    Shad:

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

    Salmon:

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

    Smelt:

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

    American Eel:

    The recreational 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 possess any American eel less than nine (9) inches in total length. No person shall take an eel from the freshwaters of the state unless in possession of a valid RI Freshwater Fishing License. There will be no closed season. 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 Rhode Island General Laws Chapters 20-12-1 and 20-12-5.
  3. The areas below each fish ladder, where fishing will be permitted, shall be designated with an official boundary marker or informational sign.