PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish & Wildlife announces that the 2013 trout and general freshwater fishing season will begin at 6 a.m. on Saturday, April 13. More than 20,000 anglers are expected to turn out at dawn on Opening Day. Approximately 80,000 hatchery-raised brook, brown, and rainbow trout with an average individual weight of one and a half pounds are being stocked by Division staff in more than 100 ponds and streams for the start of the fishing season.
"For generations of Rhode Islanders, Opening Day is a traditional time to get out at dawn and head to a favorite fishing spot to experience the delight of catching the first trout of the season," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Next Saturday, throughout Rhode Island, anglers of all ages will be enjoying the outdoors and fishing on ponds and lakes in search of the beautiful brook, brown and rainbow trout raised in DEM's hatcheries."
In addition to providing an opportunity for residents and visitors to engage in outdoor recreation, fishing contributes to the economic health of the state. Residents and tourists spend over $153 million annually in Rhode Island on trip and equipment-related expenditures for fishing, according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service's National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (2006).
During the first two days of the fishing season, Cass Pond in Woonsocket, Slater Park Pond in Pawtucket, and Ponderosa Park Pond in Little Compton will be open for children-only. These locations are in addition to the six ponds that are restricted to children 14 years of age and younger. Also, special "Opening Day" fishing derbies will be held for children on Saturday, April 13 at Cass Pond in Woonsocket, Tri-City Elks Lodge/Warwick Elks Lodge at 1414 West Shore Road in Warwick, and Diamond Hill State Park in Cumberland.
Anglers should make an extra effort to take personal safety precautions, such as not standing too close to the shoreline and being aware of their surroundings, so that they can enjoy a safe 'opening day' fishing experience. Boaters are also being urged to take appropriate safety precautions, particularly those who fish from canoes on lakes, ponds, and rivers with dams. Even though the air temperature is rising, water temperatures are still low and situations can quickly turn dangerous. 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.
A 2013 fishing license is required for anglers 15 years of age and older wishing to catch fish. A Trout Conservation Stamp is also required of anyone wishing to keep or possess a trout or to fish in a catch-and-release or 'fly-fishing only' area. Fishing licenses and the Trout Conservation Stamp ($5.50) can be obtained at any city or town clerk's office or authorized agent such as bait and tackle shops, Walmart, and Benny's. A current list of license vendors is available on the DEM website, www.dem.ri.gov, by clicking on "Hunting, Fishing, Boating Licenses" at the top left of the homepage, and scrolling down to "Hunting/Fishing Agents." Anglers are encouraged to check the list prior to visiting a vendor to purchase a license. Licenses may also be obtained at DEM's Boat Registration and Licensing Office located at 235 Promenade Street in Providence. As an added convenience, anglers may purchase their fishing license online via ri.gov by clicking on "Hunting, Fishing, Boating Licenses" on the left side of the homepage on the DEM website at www.dem.ri.gov.
License fees remain at $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. Anglers over 65 must have a license, which for them is free, but do not need a trout stamp. The license is also free for anyone with a 100 percent disability.
Anglers are reminded of the felt sole, fabric foot gear ban statewide on freshwaters.
A list of stocked ponds and other information of interest to anglers can be found on DEM's website, www.dem.ri.gov, by clicking on "Fish and Wildlife" under "Offices and Divisions," then "Freshwater Fisheries," then "Trout Stocked Waters." Regulations governing freshwater fisheries are posted on the DEM website.