PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management's Division of Fish & Wildlife announces that the 2014 Opening Day of trout season will begin at 6 a.m. on Saturday, April 12. There are more than 42,000 freshwater anglers in Rhode Island, the majority of whom 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. Several of these areas will be stocked during the second and third spring stocking as well.
"Opening Day is a time-honored tradition for generations of Rhode Islanders who 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. "Anglers of all ages look forward to Opening Day and the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and catch some of the beautiful brook, brown and rainbow trout that are 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 $37 million annually in Rhode Island on trip and equipment-related expenditures for freshwater fishing, according to the American Sportfish Association's 2011 report, "Sportfishing in America."
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 12 at Cass Pond in Woonsocket, Slater Park Pond in Pawtucket, and Ponderosa Pond in Little Compton.
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 2014 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 prohibition of the use of any wading foot gear with external felt soles or other natural or synthetic porous material capable of absorbing liquid, 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.