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Rules and Regulations

RI Freshwater Fisheries COVID-19 Updates & Frequently Asked Questions

trout season 2020  

Rhode Island lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams are currently open to fish for trout. While freshwater fishing is open year-round for other species, trout are stocked by DEM each winter in preparing for a special trout season that opens traditionally on the second Saturday in April. This season DEM adopted an emergency regulation opening the freshwater fishing season early to prevent the large crowds that often accompany the traditional Opening Day of trout fishing season in April.

To start the season DEM implemented a system that restricted the days when anglers can fish based on their last name. As of Monday, May 4, this restriction has been lifted. Anglers should still follow social distancing practices and maintain a distance of at least six feet from anyone outside their household. If you arrive at a favorite fishing spot and find that crowds are forming or the parking lots is full, please leave and choose a different location or return at another time or day. During the COVID-19 public health emergency, fishing should be enjoyed as a solitary experience, with just the members of your immediate household, and not as a group activity..

This webpage will have the latest information. Please check back often using this easy to remember URL: www.dem.ri.gov/fishing.

Page content last updated 8/5/20


Freshwater Fisheries FAQs

How is the trout fishing season different this year?

We believe that we can offer trout fishing in a safe and controlled manner to prevent the spread of COVID-19. DEM is only stocking trout in larger waterbodies and locations that allow anglers to adhere to social distancing rules, and for now, areas in our popular parks are closed.

We have signage at all access sites and freshwater boat ramps urging social distancing guidance – the length of a typical fishing rod is 6 feet. Also, we have increased monitoring of the 28 most popular fishing access locations. If social distancing rules are being ignored, DEM will disperse those anglers not following the rules.

Anglers are encouraged to safely enjoy the outdoors, stay local, and be respectful. If Rhode Islanders do not comply with the rules governing safe trout fishing during the COVID crisis, we will likely have to shut down trout fishing areas. This happened in the case of state parks and beaches – which were kept open until Friday, April 2, but we temporarily closed due to crowds.

Q. Why was fishing season opened early?

A. Opening the trout fishing season early helped us limit community spread of COVID-19, by eliminating the large crowds that often accompany the traditional Opening Day of fishing in April. During this time of social distancing, fishing should be enjoyed as solitary experience or with members of your immediate household, not as a group activity.

Q. What is the open season for trout, salmon, and charr?

A. Opening day, in a normal year is 6:00 AM on the second Saturday of April every year and continues until midnight the last day in February annually. On April 6, 2020, DEM adopted an emergency regulation that opened the freshwater fishing season early this year in order to eliminate the large crowds that often accompany the traditional Opening Day of trout fishing season in April.

Q: Do fishing restrictions for when an angler can fish still apply?

A. No. At the beginning of the season DEM implemented a system that restricted the days when anglers can fish at trout-designated waters based on the first letter of their last name. As of Monday, May 4, this restriction has been lifted. Anglers should still follow social distancing practices and maintain a distance of at least six feet from others and in groupings of no more than five persons. If you arrive at a favorite fishing spot and find that crowds are forming or the parking lots is full, please leave and choose a different location or return at another time or day.

Q: Can out-of-state anglers fish for trout in RI

A: (updated 8/5/20) Non-residents may come to Rhode Island for recreation based on the location from which they are traveling. Restrictions are in place for people traveling to Rhode Island froms states with a high community spread rate of COVID-19. The list of location are here.

Q. Are bathroom facilities opened or port-a-johns available at fishing locations?

A. No. Please plan ahead: stay close to home and keep your fishing trip short.

Q. Are State Parks open for fishing?

A. Yes. As of June 1, all RI State Parks are open with limitations. For updates and information on parks visit www.riparks.com

Q. Are you still stocking trout? 

A. Yes. DEM began stocking trout in early February and have continued to stock the trout produced at our state hatcheries. DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is only stocking trout in larger waterbodies and locations that allow anglers to adhere to social distancing rules. Smaller waterbodies, private areas, and children-only fishing ponds are not being stocked. View an up-to-date list full list of trout stocking locations here. These locations may change, and do not include ponds in certain state parks and in children-only fishing ponds as they tend to be areas that attract crowds.

Q. Can I keep the trout that I catch? 

A. Yes, as long as you are following all other regulations for the place you are fishing (the daily limit and any size limit). View updated regulations here.

Q. Has [insert waterbody] been stocked with trout yet this year?

A. Restocking may occur, but stocking locations will not be announced in advance to minimize crowds. For the safety of Fish and Wildlife staff, people should not approach staff while they are stocking fish.  View the interactive map of trout stocked locations for the 2020 season.

Q. Can I fish in a lake/pond that crosses state lines?

A. That depends.  There are several boundary waters, waters that cross state lines that have Rhode Island fishing regulations.

Connecticut Border:

  • Beach Pond is subject to Rhode Island trout regulations.
  • Peck Pond (Keach Pond) is located in a State Park and open.
  • Hazard Pond and Killingly Pond are open to fishing as there is no closed season. They are non-trout waters.
 

Massachusetts Border:

  • Wallum Lake is subject to Rhode Island Regulations. Massaschusetts does not have a closed season.
 
Q. Where can I get a copy of the 2020 Fishing Guide?

A. The 2020 Fishing Guide is available online at http://www.eregulations.com/rhodeisland/fishing/.

Q. Where can I get my fishing license and trout/salmon stamp? 

A. We encourage you to get your fishing license online 24/7 through our online licensing system: https://www.ri.gov/DEM/huntfish.

Q. Can I fish at RI State beaches or parks? 

A. All existing saltwater fishing regulations are in effect. All RI state parks and all saltwater beaches are open. Parking restrictions are in effect at many locations to limit crowding. Find more information at www.riparks.com. Please consult with the 2020 Fishing Guide or our webpage for the Marine Fishing Regulations in effect for 2020.

Q. At what age does an angler need a fishing license?

A. Recreational Freshwater Fishing Licenses are required of anglers fifteen (15) years of age and older. Recreational Saltwater Fishing Licenses are required of anglers sixteen (16) years of age and older.

Q. How much does a freshwater fishing license cost?

License fees are $18 for Rhode Island residents and current members of the Armed Forces, $33 for a combination hunting and fishing license, $35 for non-residents, and $16 for a tourist three-consecutive-day license. Licenses are free for anglers over 65 (Trout Stamp not required) – as well as for those with a 100-percent disability.

Q. When does the freshwater fishing license expire?

A. Freshwater fishing licenses expire at midnight on the last day of February annually.

Q. What are the dates of the FREE FISHING DAYS?

A. On the first full weekend of May each year, neither a Rhode Island resident nor a resident of any other state is required to possess a freshwater fishing license or a trout conservation stamp. Given the serious nature of COVID-19, DEM will continue to provide any needed updates regarding changes to this guidance.

Q. Do I need a trout stamp?

A. A trout conservation stamp ($5.50) is required of any person wishing to keep or possess a trout, salmon, or charr caught in Rhode Island waters or by any person fishing in a "catch-and-release" or "fly-fishing ONLY" area.

Q. Who DOES NOT need a trout stamp?

A. Minors under 15 years of age; RI residents over 65 years of age; persons with a 100% disability; landowner and members of their family when fishing from property on which they are actually domiciled; persons possessing trout taken from a lake or pond which shares a border with a neighboring state; persons possessing privately-owned trout caught in privately-owned ponds.

Q. Can I use corn for bait in any trout waters?

A. NO.

Q. Can I chum in trout waters?

A. NO.

Q. Where can I find bait and tackle? Aren't all stores closed? 

A. Many bait and tackle shops, as well as big-box stores that carry bait and tackle, remain open for online sales, curbside pickup, or limited indoor sales. Please call ahead for more information.

Q. What else is DEM doing in response to COVID-19?

A. Please see here for more information on DEM’s COVID-19 response at www.dem.ri.gov/covid19.

Fish Smart
Help us keep fishing areas open! Anglers must follow social distancing guidelines:
  • If you’re not feeling well, stay home! Signs and symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  • Stay close to home and be flexible. If you arrive at a favorite fishing spot and see that crowds are forming, choose a different location, or return another day or time.
  • Observe the CDC's minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like – basically a fishing rod distance apart.
  • Follow the CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene. Wash your hands, carry hand sanitizer, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as streamside trees, boulders along streamside trails, handrails on fishing piers and docks.
  • Bring water or drinks and a trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect others.
 

Learn more

Trout Stocking Map

interactive map

DEM urges anglers to avoid fishing areas if they are crowded and encourages them to visit less popular fishing areas to help avoid crowding. Anglers must maintain social distancing while fishing at ponds, lakes, streams and rivers. It may be helpful for anglers to download a map of fishing sites on their phones before heading out to fish.

Access Map

Boating

COVID-19  

DEM is asking boaters to follow COVID-19 social distancing rules and other safety guidelines as they work on their boats at marinas and boatyards and while they're on the water. Boaters are urged to follow these safety rules to protect themselves and others:

  • Stay close to home. Travel to and from the access site without making other stops.
  • Boat only with people in your immediate household.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others at all times and keep your distance on the water by not tying up to other boats or beaching your boat near other boaters.
  • Fuel up and plan ahead by packing hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and disposable gloves. When fueling, wash your hands as you would when fueling a car. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • When launching and loading your boat, give people ahead of you plenty of time and space to finish launching or loading before you approach.
  • Do not enter the marina office unless you have an appointment.
  • While on the water, find a secluded spot away from others to relax.
  • Call ahead to your destination to make sure it is open and accepting visitors.
  • When returning, be prepared to dock or trailer with your own crew and avoid assistance.
  • Keep distance at dock. Dispose of trash according to marina rules and guidelines.
  • If you are sick or exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, stay home and self-isolate for 14 days.
 
Contact
Freshwater Fisheries & Wildlife
Great Swamp Field Headquarters
Great Neck Road
West Kingston, RI 02892
Phone: (401) 789-7481
Directions