Opening Day is a good time to fish
Opening Day for freshwater fishing and trout season is Rhode Island is this Saturday, April 14. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has stocked 80,000 trout into 100 Rhode Island waterways.
Opening day and several days following are ideal times for families to try their hand at fishing as waterways are stocked well with fish and it is fairly easy for beginners to catch fish. Fishing can take place from the safety of shore while all enjoy the outdoors.
Ken Ferrara of Ray’s Bait & Tackle, Warwick said, “It does not have to cost a lot of money to get started. If you have a rod and reel already all you need is $4 worth of bait and you are off fishing. If a fishing rig is needed you can get a brand name (they sell Diawa) rod and reel combination with line for about $29. Match that with a custom rig with a treble hook and sinker for $1.50 and some PowerBait (about $6) and you are good to go.”
When in the hatchery the trout have been eating hatchery food so the bait of choice on Opening Day is a prepared or formulated bait like PowerBait. 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.
Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, Providence said, “I recommend a spinning rod with a 1500 size reel for children with four to six pound test line. Rig it with enough weight to hold bottom so you can keep the line taut to feel the bite. Place a treble hook about 18” off the bottom. If the hook and bait are on the bottom or in the weeds the trout are not going to see the bait.”
DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife is stocking hatchery-raised trout with an average weight of one to one and a half pounds. Popular locations include Olney Pond, Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln; Meadowbrook Pond, Richmond; Silver Spring Lake, North Kingstown; Stafford Pond, Tiverton; Shippee Sawmill Pond, Foster; and Round Top Ponds, Burrillville.
For the first time in Rhode Island, hatchery-raised tiger trout (a feisty breed) are being stocked in Silver Spring Lake, North Kingstown; Upper Melville Pond, Portsmouth; Shippee Sawmill Pond, Foster; and Barber Pond, South Kingstown.
On Saturday, April 14, a children’s fishing derby will be held at Pondarosa Park Pond in Little Compton. And on Saturday and Sunday, April 14 and April 15, fishing in Cass Pond in Woonsocket, Slater Park Pond in Pawtucket, and Ponderosa Park Pond in Little Compton will be reserved for children 14 years and under. Other ponds restricted year-round to children include: Frosty Hollow Pond, Exeter; Geneva Brook and Pond, North Providence; Lloyd Kenney Pond, Hopkinton (Opening Day through Memorial Day only); Lapham Pond, Burrillville; Seidel’s Pond, Cranston; and Silvey’s Pond, Cumberland.
A current fishing license and a Trout Conservation Stamp are required to keep or possess a trout or to fish in a catch-and-release or 'fly-fishing only' area. The daily creel and possession limit for trout in Rhode Island is five from April 14 through November 30, and two from December 1 through February 28, 2019.
Visit www.dem.ri.gov for licensing information and fees, a list of waterways that will be stocked.
The scoop in Massachusetts
The trout season runs year-round in Massachusetts ponds, lakes and its major river systems but smaller rivers and brooks have seasons based on 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/orgs/division-of-fisheries-and-wildlife for a list of stocked ponds and regulations.
Two states sharing a waterway
Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have cooperative fishing agreements on waterways that are shared by more than one state. For example fishing is permitted on Wallum Lake, Rhode Island and Massachusetts with persons duly licensed in Massachusetts or Rhode Island. However, Rhode Island regulations apply. Anglers should check regulations in shared border ponds and lakes before fishing.
Where to buy fishing gear for opening day
Fishing gear for opening day and beyond can be found at larger stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart but can also be competitively purchased at local bait & tackle shops. My experience is that you may save a few dollars at the larger stores but the local bait shop owners not only sell you what is needed to catch fish (from personal experience fishing the area) but also provide advice to win your favor so you keep coming back as your desire to fish increases.
John Lavallee of Continental Bait & Tackle, Cranston said, “Last month we had a pretty good small and largemouth bass bite. I can’t tell how many maps I drew for customers to point them to where the bite was best at Carbuncle Pond, Coventry or Roger Williams Park right down the street.”
As the weather warms you will find that saltwater fishing provides a good outlet too, but the fishing gear used in saltwater is a bit heaver. Douglas Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly, said, “We’ll often get a family that lives in the Westerly area wanting to fish both freshwater and then switch to saltwater fishing from shore. We recommend a rod and reel combo that is a bit heavier than conventional freshwater gear. We sell a Penn rod and reel combo (a 2000 series size reel) starting at about $129. It is light enough to use in freshwater and yet has enough backbone to use in saltwater too.”
Where’s the bite
Striped bass. Migrating striped bass have arrived. Douglas Wade of Watch Hill Outfitters, Westerly said, “We have migrating school striped bass in the Pawcatuck River. I saw an eagle with one in its mouth on my way to work today. A couple of weeks ago the herring arrived followed by the migrating bass. Anglers are starting to catch striped bass.” Dave Henault of Ocean State Tackle, said, “Sunday Billy Silvia was quahoging and saw a school of striped bass in the East Bay working a school of herring along with a lot of birds.”
Cod fishing has not been good due to bad weather. Capt. Andy Dangelo of the Seven B’s said, “We hope that the warmer weather this week will bring out the bait and cod so we can get a few good days of fishing in.”
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shellfishing for over 40 years. He 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 a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Contact or forward fishing news and photos to Capt. Dave firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.noflukefishing.com.