Welcome to 2023-24 Rhode Island Saltwater Fishing
On behalf of Governor Dan McKee, I am excited to introduce the 11th annual Rhode Island Saltwater Recreational Fishing Guide. The Ocean State offers some of the best saltwater recreational fishing anywhere. Whether you fish the waters of Narragansett Bay or the coastal waters stretching from the south shore out to Block Island and beyond, anglers in Rhode Island have many fantastic opportunities to enjoy the diversity and abundance of our local catch.
As part of a larger network of recreational opportunities in the state, fishing plays an important role in connecting people with nature, promoting health, attracting tourism, and supporting a treasured tradition for Rhode Island families. Fishing is an important part of Rhode Island’s social and cultural fabric and an important driver for our economy. Recreational fishing contributes more than $130 million to the economy each year. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, there are approximately 175,000 recreational anglers (age 16+) in Rhode Island. People love to fish in the Ocean State!
This guide is written for both novice and seasoned anglers. I hope you will find it filled with useful information on our efforts to provide superior recreational fishing opportunities in Rhode Island as well as with helpful guidance on fishing regulations. In these pages, you will learn about some of the lesser-known pelagic species that anglers may encounter in Rhode Island’s waters that are fun to target and great to eat; read about the angling artform of surfcasting and an overview of prime shore fishing sites for anglers of all skill levels throughout the state; hear updates on access site improvements including the Westerly boat ramp construction project and several new municipal boat ramp installations as DEM continues to expand recreational opportunities for people of all abilities; discover a delicious black sea bass ceviche recipe, and much more!
This is your publication, funded by contributions from saltwater anglers, including the federal Sportfish Restoration Program and the Rhode Island Recreational Saltwater License Program. Thanks to your support, DEM’s Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) carries out a range of programs and activities supporting the interests of recreational fishermen. We monitor and conserve our local fish stocks. We work closely with recreational fishing organizations on initiatives like our special shore program for scup. And we continue to engage in outreach and education programs, such as this guide.
Before you grab your poles and hit the water, be sure to purchase a recreational saltwater fishing license from the Rhode Island Outdoors – RIO – online licensing system at RIO.ri.gov! All license fees go back into supporting recreational fishing in Rhode Island, such as fishing access site improvements. With your support, DEM is committed to providing better access to saltwater fishing opportunities throughout RI, allowing more people to connect with nature.
Last year, DEM launched a FREE volunteer recreational catch reporting mobile application, AnglerCatch, in collaboration with RISAA and Harbor Lights Software, and with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Since then, AnglerCatch has had over 1,000 downloads with over 400 catches logged by RI anglers. The app allows you to log and track your catches with photos and the information most important to you, while also providing fisheries managers with crucial data on recreational fishing to improve management decisions. It also provides free weather forecasts, tide and solunar information, and buoy data: essential tools for every angler! Let’s keep this momentum going – download AnglerCatch today from the Apple App Store or on Google Play.
Since 2016, DEM has worked closely with RISAA to improve boating and fishing access throughout the Ocean State, ensuring anglers can easily reach their favorite spots on the water or along the shore. These close partnerships notably include the development of special shore fishing sites, the ‘Vamos a Pescar’ program, and the popular Youth Fishing Camp at Rocky Point State Park which introduces recreational fishing to young Rhode Islanders. Despite a two year pause due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the return of RISAA’s camp in 2022 was a huge hit – with fifty participants and over 50 volunteers! Little is more thrilling than casting a line and reeling in that first fish – especially on beautiful Narragansett Bay. Kudos to RISAA for bringing this camp to Rocky Point and inspiring both a love of fishing and for this park in our children – it is through efforts like this that we forge the next generation of environmental stewards.
Beyond the fun it brings, saltwater fishing is a great way to enjoy fresh, delicious seafood. From bluefish to scup to our beloved summer flounder, Rhode Island is well known for the wealth of seafood harvested year-round from our waters. But ultimately, whether you fish for fun or food, the common denominator is that you are part of a time-honored tradition made possible by Rhode Island’s amazing marine life.
I hope this guide enhances your recreational fishing experiences. Be safe, respect the great outdoors and each other, and enjoy the excitement of fishing in beautiful Rhode Island!
Terry Gray, PE, Director