Trout fishing is great family fun
Opening day for trout season is Saturday, April 13 at sunrise (around 6:09 a.m.) However, the ritual of ‘Opening Day’ will start well before this time. Often it starts before sunrise with fresh coffee on the banks of a pond or lake, a camping trip the night before, an early morning breakfast at home or at a local diner.
Rhode Island lakes and ponds such as Silver Spring Lake in North Kingstown, Stafford Pond in Tiverton and others will take on a festival atmosphere with tents, campers, outdoor eating and lots of anglers of all ages. If you should have the desire to participate in the ritual, it does not take a lot of effort or money and it creates a lifetime of memories for children and adults.
Opening day and several days following are ideal times for families to try their hand at fishing as waterways are stocked well with trout and it is fairly easy for beginners to catch fish. Fishing can take place from the safety of shore while all enjoy the outdoors.
How to get started
It does not have to cost a lot to gear-up to fish opening day. Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “If you have a rod and reel already all you need is $4 worth of bait and you are off fishing.” Ferrara sells treble hook rigs and sinkers for about $1.50. If a rod and reel is needed you can get a brand name rod (Daiwa), reel and line for about $29. John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “We have fresh water spinning rigs that start at $15 for rod, reel and line. We hope to get some push button conventional reels later this week.” John Lavelle of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston, said, “Opening day rigs with rod, reel and line range from $16 to $39. We also have a broad selection of gear for the advanced angler.”
The State stocks ponds with hatchery-raised trout that have been eating manufactured food so the bait of choice on Opening Day is a prepared or formulated bait like PowerBait by Berkeley. As the trout acclimate to the wild (two to three weeks) they begin to start foraging naturally so meal worms, other natural baits and lures work best then. PowerBait can be purchased at bait & tackle shops as well as sporting goods stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops and Wal-Mart.
In my lifetime I have asked local bait & tackle shop owners thousands of questions. The advantage of purchasing bait and fishing gear from them is that they can provide you with local information on fishing spots nearby that adults and children can fish and give advice on what you need to fish with. Their aim is to make you successful so you will come back to their store in the future.
Ponds being stocked
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s (DEM) Division of Fish & Wildlife stocks about 100 ponds, lakes and waterways with hatchery raised brown, rainbow and brook trout with an average individual weight of one and a half pounds. Visit www.dem.ri.gov for a complete list of trout stocked ponds in RI. Many ponds are state-owned or have controlled public access. There are ponds for children fourteen years old and younger (to enhance their odds of catching a fish and more of a kid-friendly environment), for fly fishing only, and some ponds are for children only just the first two days of trout season.
The scoop in Massachusetts
For information on fishing laws and regulations in Massachusetts refer to the 2019 Massachusetts Guide online at www.mass.gov/masswildlife or pick up a copy at sporting license vendor locations across the State (a similar guide is available in Rhode Island).
The trout season runs year-round in Massachusetts ponds, lakes and its major river systems but smaller rivers and brooks have seasons with creel limits. Anglers fishing in smaller streams may keep as many as eight trout from April through the middle of September but only three from mid-September through the end of March.
In March and April Massachusetts will stock close to 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout. Visit www.mass.gov for a list of stocked ponds and regulations.
Where to get a fresh water license and trout stamp
A 2019 fishing license is required in Rhode Island 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. Licenses may also be purchased online or obtained at DEM’s Boat Registration and Licensing Office located at 235 Promenade Street in Providence.
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.
In Massachusetts a freshwater residential fishing license is $27.50 and a non-resident license is $37.50. You can purchase an in state or out of state three day license. For complete Massachusetts license information and to apply for one online visit www.mass.gov.
Where’s the bite
Freshwater trout season starts Saturday, April 13, however, anglers have been fishing most of March for freshwater bass. Littlefield said, “We have a customer that caught eleven fish last week both largemouth bass and pike.” John Lavelle of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston said, “Some larger fish have been caught in March. As soon as the ice melts the largemouth bass are hungry and when the water warms they start to feed. Our customers are doing well with shiners. Once opening day arrives local customers will be fishing at the kids only Seidel’s Pond and Meshanticut Brook but I like to point customers to southern Rhode Island lakes and ponds where things are not as crowded. I can’t tell you all the maps I have drawn for customers.”
Cod fishing was off last week but as conditions improve the hope is that the fishing will improve too. Littlefield said, “One of my good customers put his boat in early last week and went to Cox Ledge. They caught more haddock than cod but had a good day.”
Tautog season opened April 1. The minimum size is 16”. The spring season limit is three fish/person/day and is open until the end of May. The season closes June 1 until the end of July and reopens August 1.
Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Follow Capt. Dave on twitter @CaptDaveMonti. He’ll be tweeting about ‘Where’s the bite’, fishing regulations, national fishing policy, and issues that impact the fish. Forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.noflukefishing.com.