No Fluke

We can fish, just be safe


There has been a lot of discussion about fishing during COVID-19. Fishing is a great outdoor activity that can be enjoyed solo on a beach or off a jetty. Fishing can be a great family activity too, on the shore of a lake, along the coast or on a family boat. The truth is you can fish with present COVID-19 orders if you keep proper social distancing, wear a mask as needed and stay in small groups of five or less.

The good news is that the fishing continues to be great, on both the salt and freshwater.

Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “Most of the freshwater activity has been focused on trout. The challenge is getting to a fishing spot with parking restrictions in place, particularly at State parks and beaches. However, JL who works in our store has been landing some nice trout and customer Allen Pham of Woonsocket, caught a tautog in the 4.5 pound range in the East Passage of Narragansett By this week.”

John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside said, “Fishing is good and the nice thing is that we have an influx of a lot of new customers. Folks are sitting at home with nothing to do and are trying their hand at fishing. I sold over thirty freshwater combination rigs with a rod and reel to guys that have not fished in years.”

Most bait & tackle shops are open but with limited hours. Customers are accessing the stores online, ordering ahead for curbside service, or are being allowed to enter some stores on a limited basis. “We started providing window service a couple of years ago but it did not take off as customers wanted to come in, see and buy lures.  But now, the walk up window is a great success. And, we have not had to ask customs to keep their distance. Everyone seems to be following the rules on land and on the shore,” said Henault.

Mark Passarelli of the Tackle Box, Warwick said, “The weather has slowed things a bit, but the big challenge is finding a place to park. That said anyone trout fishing has been very complementary of of the State of Rhode Island for the job they did stocking ponds with trout. All seem to be catching fish once they have been able to get out and fish.”

There has been some confusion about who can fish and the type of fishing that is not allowed in Rhode Island.  Mike Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly is located very close to the Connecticut border with many of his Connecticut customers often fishing Rhode Island. Wade asked for clarification on out of state residents fishing in Rhode Island.

So late last week we made and inquiry to Janel Coit, director of the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Chief Dean Hoxsie of DEM Law Enforcement responded on her behalf.  Here are some general guidelines Chief Hoxsie shared.
Saltwater fishing and marinas

    •    Non-residents are not permitted to enter the state for recreational purposes
    •    Non-residents are not permitted to come into RI to work on or use their boats at marinas, boat yards, etc.
    •    RI waters are not closed to fishing. Out of state vessels and fishers can fish RI waters but cannot land.
    •    Transient boating into RI marinas, docks, and moorings is prohibited.
    •    Charter vessels cannot take non-residents. Legal charters must obey social distancing.
    •    If someone owns a boat and lives out of state, they can come directly to the marina, attach and leave. They should arrange in advance with the marina.
    •    If you enter RI and stay even overnight, you must quarantine while here. If staying at a property owned, then 14 day quarantine is mandatory. Anyone under quarantine must go to the Dept. of Health website and register.
In place earlier:
    •    Anglers fishing at saltwater areas are exempt from the new alphabet system used for freshwater fishing.
    •    DEM asks the public not to drive to parks and beaches. The entrances will be blocked, there is no public parking, and these facilities are closed to vehicular traffic.
    •    DEM is not prohibiting Rhode Islanders from walking to parks and beaches if they are congregated in groups of five or less and are adhering to social/physical distancing rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
    •    DEM will be patrolling these sites and dispersing groups of people.

Freshwater fishing

For freshwater frequently asked questions (FAQs) visit DEM’s website at

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing remains very strong for trout in waterways that have been stocked. Dave Henault of Ocean State said, “Round Top Pond, Burrilville has been good for trout fishing and just about any pond stocked by DEM. Anglers should know that state parks are closed.” For a list of stocked ponds in Rhode Island visit  John Littlefield said, “The bass bite has been very good. Bad Luck Pond in Rehoboth has been yielding some nice largemouth bass in the four to five pound range. This pond has consistently produced for a customer who fishes their on a kayak on a regular basis.”

Saltwater fishing for striped bass is improving. Littlefield said, “The school bass bite has been good. And, there are keepers mixed in. Customers caught bass in the 28” to 29” range at the White Church Bridge, Barrington.  White soft plastic lures are working well including white shad and Al Gag’s white soft plastic lures.” Henault  said, “The bite at the Stone Bridge both on the Tiverton and Portsmouth sides is working for anglers with tautog being caught off the Hurricane Barrier in Providence and along the East Bay bike path.” 

Dave Monti is a charter captain, member of the American Saltwater Guides Association, RISAA, RIPCBA, serves as vice chair of the RIMFC and is a marketing communications practitioner. Forward fishing news & photos to, visit or

Dave Monti

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Jim McGaw

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.