The Ocean State might be the smallest state in the US, but its intimate connection to the sea and over 400 miles of coastline make it a truly unique place. Recognized as of the most beautiful places in New England, Rhode Island is nestled between Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the North Atlantic Ocean. It’s no surprise that both freshwater and saltwater anglers come here each season to check what’s biting!
In order to legally fish in the state, you’ll need to obtain a Rhode Island fishing license. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the state’s fishing permit requirements. So without further ado…
Who needs a fishing license in Rhode Island?
All anglers aged 15 (16 for saltwater) and older, no matter their residency, need to possess a valid Rhode Island fishing license. Whether you’re planning to try your luck at catching Flounder along the coastal shore, or hit one of the local rivers for a healthy dose of Trout, you’ll also need to know the RI fishing regulations.
These fishing regulations are designed by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) in order to protect the biodiversity of the state waters and make them sustainable for the next generation of anglers.
When purchasing a RI fishing license, you’re contributing to RI’s conservation programs, including the improvement of the state’s fisheries, conservation education, habitat development, and programs related to endangered species.
Types of RI Fishing Licenses
Rhode Island is blessed with both freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities. You’ll need to obtain separate licenses in order to fish on the coast of Rhode Island or in any river, stream, pond, lake, and reservoir. More on this below.
Freshwater Fishing Licenses
Both residents and visitors need to get a freshwater fishing permit to fish in Rhode Island’s lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. In addition to a regular license, there’s a fishing and hunting combination permit available for those who love all things outdoors. Non-residents can get an annual license and a tourist license, which are valid for 3 consecutive days.
Along with a Rhode Island freshwater fishing license, you’ll need to purchase a Trout Conservation Stamp if you’re planning to keep Trout, Salmon, or Charr. This also applies to catch-and-release trips and fishing in a fly fishing only area.
Saltwater Fishing Licenses
Rhode Island saltwater fishing licenses are a bit different from freshwater permits. There’s an annual option available for all anglers, along with a 7-day license.
Rhode Island offers saltwater fishing license reciprocity with New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maine. If you’re a holder of a saltwater recreational permit issued by one of these states, you can fish RI marine and federal waters without purchasing a RI license. You may want to check if your state also honors RI licenses.
Rhode Island License Cost
You’re considered a RI resident if you:
- Are domiciled in Rhode Island
- Maintain a place of abode in Rhodes Island, spending at least 183 days in the state.
Current active members of the US Armed Forces are also eligible for a resident fishing license.
|Resident (or current member of the US Armed Forces)||$21.00||freshwater|
|Combination Fishing and Hunting||$38.00||N/A|
|Non-Resident (3 Day)||$18.00||freshwater|
|Special Trout Conservation Stamp||$5.50||N/A|
Who can fish without a license?
There are exemptions as to who needs to obtain a RI fishing license or Trout Conservation Stamp in order to catch fish in the state. All anglers can fish license and permit-free on the first full weekend of May each year during the free fishing days.
If you’re planning to catch and possess Trout, Salmon, or Charr, in some cases you don’t need to obtain a TCS. Here’s the list of exemptions:
- Anglers under the age of 15
- Resident anglers over the age of 65
- Anglers with a 100% disability
- Landowners or their family members when fishing from their property*
- Anglers who take Trout from a lake or pond that shares a border with a neighboring state
- Catching privately-owned Trout from a privately-owned pond.
*On which they’re domiciled.
If you’re planning to book a charter with a licensed captain, you don’t need to purchase a saltwater license. This applies to both licensed party and charter boats. You also don’t need to pay for a RI recreational saltwater fishing license if:
- You’re under the age of 16
- You hold a license from a reciprocal state
- You’re on leave from active military duty
- You have a NOAA Fisheries registration or Highly Migratory Species Angling Permit
- You’re blind or permanently disabled
- You’re a non-fishing passenger on a boat with other anglers.
Where to buy a RI fishing license?
Rhode Island annual licenses are valid until December 31. In turn, your 7-Day license is valid for 7 consecutive days after the activation date. The Trout Conservation Stamp expires on the last day of February.
There are a few easy ways to purchase Rhode Island salt and freshwater fishing permits and combination licenses, as well as Trout stamps. Here are the available options:
- Online at the RI DEM website.
- In person from one of DEM’s licensing agents
- At DEM’s Boating Licensing & Registration Office in Providence
If you’re using the online platform for the first time, you’ll be issued a unique Rhode Island Hunting and Fishing ID (RIHFID) which you can use in the future to access the system to reprint or renew your license, as well as to add additional permits.
If you decide to purchase a Rhode Island fishing license in person from a licensed agent, an extra fee – the Enhance Access Fee or EAF – may be charged. The fee is $2 per license and $0.50 per permit for resident anglers and $3 per license and $1 per permit for visitors. Note that there’s no EAF for recreational saltwater fishing licenses.
Lastly, make sure to print out and sign your license for it to be valid.
We’ve tried to cover everything, but if you still have questions it’s best to get in touch with your local DEM office. Hopefully, you’re now ready to grab your rod, find a guide near you, and start fishing!
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