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Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Free Freshwater Fishing Weekend May 4-5

Angling For A Deal

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that it will hold its annual Free Fishing Weekend Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5

DEM invites Rhode Islanders and visitors alike to fish in the state’s freshwaters on both days for all species of freshwater fish without a fishing license, which normally costs $21 for residents and $38 for nonresidents, or a trout conservation stamp, which normally costs $5.50 – but both are not required during Free Fishing Weekend. A complete list of stocked waters can be found here.

Established in 1995, the program provides an opportunity to encourage people to experience freshwater fishing as a new outdoor experience and highlight some of state’s premier freshwater fishing areas. Free Fishing Weekend does not apply to saltwater fishing or saltwater licenses.

Freshwater fishing regulations on size/creel (possession) limits still apply on May 4 and May 5. The daily creel and possession limit for trout is five from April 13, 2024, through November 30, 2024, and two from December 1, 2024, through February 28, 2025. 

The creel/possession limit for trout taken in the Wood River between Rt 165 and Barberville Dam at Arcadia Road is two fish from the second Saturday in /May through the last day of February 2025. 

Information about stocked freshwaters, size and creel limits for all freshwater fish species is available in the 2024-25 Freshwater Fishing Abstract, or by calling DEM's Great Swamp Field Office at 401-789-0281, or DEM’s Aquatic Resource Education office at 401-539-0019. 

For more information on stocking, visit DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife's (DFW) Facebook Page or

Anglers are also reminded to obey all boating regulations. The use of external felt soled waders or boots or those soled with any natural or synthetic porous material capable of absorbing water in any freshwaters in Rhode Island is strictly prohibited

This includes any waters shared with adjacent states in which Rhode Island fishing regulations apply. It is strictly prohibited to enter or exit a state boat ramp with any vegetation attached to any type of boats, motors, boat trailers, or any other conveyance or equipment in order to curtail the spread of invasive aquatic plants or invertebrates. 

Wearing a personal floatation device (PFD)  while paddling in Rhode Island is no longer optional; it is required, according to new boating safety regulations announced last year by DEM

The new PFD regulation states that all operators and passengers of canoes, kayaks, sailboards, kiteboards, paddleboards, and any other paddle craft must always wear a United States Coast Guard (USCG)-approved PFD while underway regardless of age.

Anglers who catch a golden rainbow trout through May 6 will be eligible to receive a golden trout pin. Simply take a picture and email it to for verification. Submissions must be received no later than Monday, May 6, 2024, to be eligible. One pin per person limit.

As part of a larger network of recreational opportunities in the state, fishing plays an important role in connecting people with nature, promoting health, attracting tourism, and supporting a treasured tradition for Rhode Island families. 

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, there are approximately 175,000 recreational anglers (age 16+) in Rhode Island. And recreational fishing contributes more than $130 million to the economy each year. Fishing licenses can be purchased online on DEM’s Rhode Island Outdoors (RIO) portal.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates. Follow DFW on Facebook and Instagram (@ri.fishandwildlife) to stay up to date on news, events and volunteer opportunities. You can also subscribe to DFW’s monthly newsletter here.