Rhode Island Saltwater Fishing
On behalf of Governor Dan McKee, I am pleased to introduce the ninth 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. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, there are approximately 175,000 recreational anglers (age 16+) in Rhode Island. And recreational fishing contributes more than $130 million to the economy each year. 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 the R/V Reliance, a new research vessel DEM has commissioned to conduct a variety of important fisheries monitoring projects; a new, collaborative research project being conducted by DEM’s Division of Marine Fisheries in collaboration with URI and the Atlantic Shark Institute, where acoustic receiver arrays were established in multiple locations along the RI coast to track data on the movement of tagged fish; an update on recently completed and upcoming fishing access Improvement projects across Rhode Island; 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, our Marine Fisheries Division 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.
Getting people to and on the water is a core part of our mission at DEM. And we invest heavily in improving boating and fishing access to ensure anglers can easily reach their favorite spots on the water or along the shore. We’ve made improvements at the Colt State Park boat ramp in Bristol which include a partial replacement of the deck grating and framing timbers and maintenance work to remove sediment from the ramps for improved launching. At the Quonochontaug Breachway in Charlestown, a new concrete boat ramp with a courtesy floating dock featuring an improved design with universal access opened last year. In addition to reorienting the boat ramp in a north-south direction so boaters can safely launch without having to fight the strong currents in the breachway channel, the reconstruction project also included shoreline restoration work. We’ve also received a federal grant to develop a coastal resiliency plan for the Quonnie property along the shoreline and access road. And in the Westerly area, we’re preparing plans to rebuild the Main Street boat ramp and anticipate construction to begin next winter. We’re also supporting local municipalities with funding for the design of boat ramp replacement projects at Wilson Park Boat Ramp in North Kingstown and Weaver Cove Boat Ramp in Portsmouth.
Since 2016, DEM has worked in close partnership with the RI Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) to promote recreational fishing and introduce the sport to young Rhode Islanders through a popular fishing camp at Rocky Point State Park. Although we’ve had to take a pause from the camp because of the Covid-19 public health emergency, RISAA plans to bring the camp back in 2022 and teach children how to safely fish from boat and shore, some for the first time. 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. And we are committed to expanding this special opportunity to explore the briny wonders of our state and to providing a sustainable future for our precious marine resources.
I hope this guide enhances your recreational fishing experiences. Be safe, respect the great outdoors and each other, and enjoy the magic of fishing in beautiful Rhode Island. Most importantly, HAVE FUN!
Janet Coit, Director