The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recently announded that Saturday, May 1, and Sunday, May 2, are Free Fishing Days in Rhode Island.
Rhode Islanders and visitors alike can fish in the state’s freshwaters on both days for all species of freshwater fish, without a fishing license or trout conservation stamp. All creel and possession limits apply. The free fishing weekend does not apply to saltwater fishing or saltwater licenses.
“Freshwater fishing is an important part of our culture and economy in Rhode Island, and DEM is proud to support it through our stocking program,” said DEM Director Janet Coit in a statement. “After the year we’ve all had, I sure hope anglers will have some fun catching the beautiful hatchery-raised trout and salmon stocked in fishing areas across the state. We encourage people of all ages to visit a favorite fishing spot on free fishing weekend and make some new memories!”
DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is continuing to stock additional fish in RI waterways. In order to avoid crowded conditions at fishing areas, there will be no further announcement or daily reports of the stocking schedule. Click here for a complete list of stocked waters.
The free fishing program was established in Rhode Island in 1995 to encourage people to try freshwater fishing as a new outdoor experience and highlight some of Rhode Island’s premier freshwater fishing areas. As part of 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. Over $37 million dollars are generated annually in Rhode Island from freshwater fishing.
Freshwater fishing regulations on size and creel/possession limits apply on May 1 and May 2. The daily creel and possession limit for trout/and or salmon is five fish, of which only two can be salmon, from April 7, 2021 through November 30, 2021; and two trout /and or salmon of which only two can be salmon from December 1, 2021 to February 28, 2022. The creel /possession limit for trout taken in the Wood River between RT. 165 Check Station and Barberville Dam at Arcadia Road is two fish from the second Saturday in May through the last day of February. The daily creel limit for landlocked Atlantic salmon is two fish per day, statewide until February 28, 2022, which must be part of the overall five fish limit for trout and salmon. Information about stocked freshwaters, size and creel limits for all freshwater fish species is available in the 2021-2022 Freshwater Fishing Abstract, or by calling DEM’s Great Swamp Field Office at 789-0281, or the Aquatic Resource Education office 539-0037.
The minimum size of all trout or charr species taken from the waters of the state is eight inches, measured from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail. The minimum size for domestic or landlocked stocked Atlantic salmon is 11 inches in total length. No person shall take any Atlantic salmon from the Pawcatuck River downstream of the Potter Hill Dam.
The use of external felt soled or any natural or synthetic porous material capable of absorbing water in any freshwaters in Rhode Island is strictly prohibited. This includes any waters shared with adjacent states in which Rhode Island fishing regulations apply. If you are using a boat, new regulations mandate that no vegetation can be on your boat, and other equipment in or out of a state boat ramp.
If you are using a boat, new regulations mandate that no vegetation can be on your boat, and other equipment in or out of a state boat ramp.
Anglers must follow these guidelines during the COVID-19 public health crisis as follows:
● Do not visit lakes, ponds or other fishing areas if you feel ill or are exhibiting symptoms of illness.
● Plan trips to new areas where the fishing pressure may be less.
● Maintain a minimum distance between persons.
● Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to and during your fishing trip. Wash your hands, carry hand sanitizer, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoid surfaces that are touched often.
●Avoid direct contact with ticks that can transmit Lyme Disease and other diseases:
- Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
- Walk in the center of trails.
- Remember the three “Tick Free Rhode Island” tips:
Anglers are advised to take the following safety precautions when fishing:
● Stand back from the shoreline and be aware of surroundings.
● If fishing from a boat, always wear a life jacket, and ensure boats are seaworthy before going out on the water.
● Don’t drink alcohol while operating a boat.
● Always stay in the boat; water temperatures are low and the risk of drowning because of cold water is high.
● If the boat capsizes, remain with the boat where you are more likely to be seen by rescuers. Swim for shore only if wearing a life jacket, if the likelihood of rescue is low, or if you are close to shore and not able to climb back into or on top of the boat.
State law requires that boaters always have personal flotation devices for each person, and that they do not drink and operate a boat. Boaters should also be sure their craft is seaworthy before going out on the state’s waterways. For more information on Rhode Island boating laws, click here.
DEM advises everyone to follow guidance about COVID-19 from Governor McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health. More information about COVID-19 and Rhode Island’s response can be found here: https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/