How does a little peace and quiet in a beautiful, natural setting sound right now? Somewhere where you can actually listen to your own thoughts, ignore your phone, and focus on something with the sole purpose of being still. Maybe it’s time to set your email to auto-reply with two words: “Gone fishing.”
Northern Rhode Island is home to some of the region’s prime fishing spots, according to local experts. And whether you are hoping to hook trout, bass, pickerel or simply common sunfish (technically named bluegill or pumpkinseed), there’s likely a body of water for every skill level and preference just a short drive away.
Christine Dudley, deputy chief of Freshwater Fisheries for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, said the most popular catches for local fishing are trout, largemouth bass, pickerel and pike. Sunfish are also a hit with children.
Dudley said DEM stocked all of its designated trout waters with three species of trout this spring, with the exception of the children’s ponds. The areas geared toward children tend to be smaller and can experience crowding, and COVID-19 safety was the reason behind the decision not to stock those ponds, said Dudley.
Some of the areas included in the trout-stocked waters locally are: Abbott Run Brook in Cumberland; the Blackstone River in Cumberland and Lincoln; Memorial Park Pond, Olney Pond and Upper Rochambeau Pond (fly-fishing only), in Lincoln; Geneva Brook and Pond in North Providence; Harris River and Sylvester’s Pond in Woonsocket; A.L. Mowry Pond (fly-fishing only) and the Woonasquatucket River in Smithfield; Dexter Pond and the Pawtuxet River in Scituate; Tarkiln Pond in North Smithfield; Dolly Cole Brook, Foster Green Acres Pond, Hopkins Mill Pond, Ponaganset River, Shippee Saw Mill Pond and Winsor Brook in Foster; and the Chepachet River and Spring Grove Pond in Glocester.
RIDEM’s website offers additional information on each area such as which sites are fly-fishing only, as well as which sites are wheelchair accessible at tinyurl.com/4rkrmr9h .
Will Worthy, owner of Big Bear Hunting and Fishing in Glocester and Ted’s Bait Shop in Pascoag, and also a Glocester Town Council member, says his favorite local fishing spots will change with the seasons. He said right now is a good time for catching bass, and mentioned Sand Dam, Echo Lake, Peeptoad Pond, Wallum Lake and Stump Pond. Stump Pond (also called Stillwater Reservoir) is also a good spot to catch pike, said Worthy.
“We primarily are a freshwater fishing store for the fact that we have 10 of the most beautiful lakes for trout and bass in our backyard,” said Worthy.
Trout will be found in the bigger ponds and some of the brooks, as they are a cold water fish, both Worthy and Dudley said.
As far as the best times to head out, while the traditional catch phrase is “the early bird catches the worm,” most anglers will agree that early risers also catch the fish. Worthy said both early morning and around sunset are prime times, with midday not being ideal for timing.
Worthy said the number one bait for both those brand new to the sport to advanced is heavy to large shiners. He said for nighttime fishing any kind of topwater bait is a good choice.
With fall around the corner, Dudley said DEM will be stocking trout again in select locations around the week before Columbus Day. She said there will also be other special stockings as the year progresses.
“Sometimes in winter we also stock salmon,” she said. She also mentioned pike fingerlings being stocked in the fall. Dudley said RIDEM will always announce when it is stocking. Visit www.dem.ri.gov and also check on Facebook for updates. Dudley said calling the Fish and Wildlife Department at 401-789-0281 can also be helpful for updates, or even for directions to hard-to-find fishing spots. DEM’s website offers an interactive map for locations, and a full regulation guide can be accessed at tinyurl.com/xc5nuab7 .
Dudley said trout season pauses for about six weeks before Opening Day (traditionally the second Saturday in April), but ponds that don’t get stocked with trout may be fished all year. For example Stump Pond is one of the local spots that is not stocked with trout.
Dudley mentioned a new rule that was put in last year. No trout under 8 inches in length may be caught and kept, as those are wild trout. “We do have native brook trout around – all under 8 inches generally,” she said.
Not hooked yet by just the thrill of the catch? Fishing can also help offer a little bit of serenity.
Worthy said, “It’s peace and quiet. It’s getting back to your roots, connecting with nature, understanding conservation. It’s not just about fishing,” he said. “It’s about being outside and getting away from technology.”
He mentioned the benefits of parents getting their kids outside and not staring at their phones.
Dudley said, “Rhode Island has beautiful areas. We’re a small state but we have a lot to offer.”
She said the upcoming fall season will be great for fishing with crisp days that get cool at night.
Dudley also mentioned the refreshing time away from devices while fishing. “If you get a good bite, you want to have both hands ready," she said.
If you’re brand new to fishing, Worthy said Big Bear will be offering free fishing classes in October by a tournament-winning member of its pro staff. They will also be hosting a Kick Cancer in the Bass fundraising fishing tournament, with more details to be announced.
Anyone over the age of 15 is required to obtain a fishing license, available online through the RIDEM website. Those over age 65 are eligible for a free license.
The fish are biting and tranquility is waiting – cast in.
Tackle box 101
Will Worthy, owner of Big Bear Hunting and Fishing and Ted’s Bait Shop, offers a few suggestions for those new to fishing and looking for starter supplies. He suggests:
• A medium to heavy
• shiner hooks
• topwater poppers
• some chatterbait
and some jigs