Trout fishing season opens with staggered days

Ponds in state parks and some other stocked waters off limits

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — You can drop a line in the two ponds at Melville Park as long as you adhere to social distancing rules due to COVID-19.

The R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced Monday that certain Rhode Island lakes, ponds, rivers and streams that allow anglers to adhere to social distancing rules are now open for trout fishing.

While freshwater fishing is open year-round for other species, trout were stocked by DEM earlier this year in preparing for a special trout season that opens traditionally on the second Saturday in April. DEM adopted an emergency regulation opening the freshwater fishing season early this year with new measures in order to eliminate the large crowds that often accompany the traditional opening day of trout fishing season in April.

Open for anglers are Thurston Gray Pond (formerly known as Upper Melville Pond) and Lower Melville Pond in Portsmouth.

Also open for trout fishing are Eight Rod Farm, Stafford, and Tiverton Trout ponds in Tiverton; Adamsville Brook and Pond in Tiverton and Little Compton; and Ponderosa Park, Simmons Mill, and Dunderry Brook (including Wigwam) ponds in Little Compton.

“Everything about our normal routines has been upended by COVID-19, and we are asking people to take special care to respect a new system this year so that all anglers may safely fish for trout,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “The reason we are opening early on a Monday and imposing a system designed to reduce fishing activity by half is so that we can open at all. In light of the risks and restrictions associated with the coronavirus, we had to design a new approach to trout fishing this spring. We hope that people will appreciate the opportunity to fish during a difficult time and allow us to keep trout season going by respecting the rules.”

To reduce the number of people fishing at any given time and mitigate crowds during the COVID-19 public health crisis, DEM has implemented a system that staggers the days when licensed anglers can fish. 

Those with last names beginning with “A” through “M” may fish only on even-numbered calendar days, and those with last names beginning with “N” through “Z” must fish on odd-numbered calendar days. DEM will also impose parking restrictions during the first two weekends of the fishing season and has removed port-a-johns from fishing sites as a public health measure. 

DEM environmental police officers and DEM staff will be present at fishing locations to assist licensed anglers, answer questions, and monitor fishing spots for compliance, and the Department may adjust the fishing season if necessary.

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. Anglers must 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 lot is full, please leave and choose a different location or return at another time or day. DEM will keep updating information to guide people and will post this information at www.dem.ri.gov/fishing. 

Since state parks are temporarily closed due to COVID-19, ponds in the major parks — such as Olney Pond in Lincoln Woods, Peck Pond in Pulaski Park, and Meshanticut Park Pond in Cranston — will not be opened until later this season. 

“While it may seem strange to some that DEM is allowing fishing during a time of crisis, we feel we can offer this opportunity to enjoy a traditional pastime while meeting health guidance,” said Ms. Coit. “DEM staff will be out monitoring the next few days and weeks, and we will coordinate closely with the Rhode Island Department of Health experts to make adjustments as needed to maintain a safe atmosphere.”

54,000 trout stocked

DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is stocking trout only in larger waterbodies and locations that allow anglers to adhere to social distancing rules. This year, approximately 54,000 rainbow, brook, golden and brown trout are being stocked. Smaller waterbodies, including children-only fishing ponds, are not being stocked. Restocking will 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. Visit DEM’s website for an up-to-date list of trout stocking locations. 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. For a list of non-stocked ponds, visit DEM’s website.

This year, the Golden Trout promotion will be extended. Anglers will have until Sept. 1 to send in their photos to qualify for a golden trout pin. The list of ponds is posted at fishing locations, www.dem.ri.gov, and www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM.

For information and fees, fishing licenses and fishing rules, visit www.dem.ri.gov/huntfish.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.