To fish in state inland and marine waters, you are required to obtain a Rhode Island fishing license from the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). Two general types of RI licenses to fish are available: commercial fishing permits and recreational fishing permits. Recreational licenses are further subdivided into freshwater fishing licenses and saltwater fishing licenses. In addition, starting anglers can enroll in the department's Aquatic Resources Education Program to further their fishing knowledge. Learn more about fishing licenses in Rhode Island and other fishing-related topics in the below sections:
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Anglers interested in fishing in Rhode Island's freshwater and saltwater fisheries are required to buy a fishing permit from the Department of Environmental Management. Depending on the angler’s motivation for fishing, both residents and nonresidents can obtain one of the following general types of fishing licenses:
Fishing for sport in Rhode Island can only be done by holders of recreational freshwater or recreational saltwater fishing licenses. However, anglers who are fishing with methods other than angling or spearfishing do not require a recreational fishing permit.
After reviewing the recreational fishing rules and regulations for both saltwater and freshwater fishing, any interested applicant can obtain one of the following RI licenses to fish:
Applicants interested in getting fishing licenses can visit a local licensing agent and purchase licensure in person. You may also buy an RI fishing license online by visiting the DEM licensing system and providing the following:
The state of Rhode Island provides certain eligible groups of residents with free fishing licenses as well, including:
Finally, the following groups of anglers are exempt from buying a fishing license in Rhode Island:
If you plan to fish for business purposes in Rhode Island, you are required to review the state's commercial fishing rules and regulations, and obtain a commercial fishing license. Three basic categories of Rhode Island commercial fishing permits are available:
Offered by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the aforementioned licenses are available to both residents and nonresidents, with a variety of fishing endorsements:
Designed by the Department of Environmental Management, the Aquatic Resource Education Program (AREP) is intended for both children and adults in Rhode Island. Before or after obtaining a fishing license, applicants can take advantage of the AREP by enrolling in one or more of its sub-programs:
The AREP's hands-on workshops are designed to teach novice anglers the practical aspects of the sport by providing training on freshwater and saltwater spincasting, fly tying and fly fishing. The ecology programs cover both the inland and the estuary waters of Rhode Island. Aimed primarily at school, scout and youth groups, the ecology programs include outdoor activities that introduce the Rhode Island youth to the importance of the aquatic ecosystem, its functions and the fish that inhabit it.
AREP also introduces aquaculture in schools through class lectures or trips to local hatcheries where students can learn everything about raising both freshwater and saltwater fish. In addition, the Aquatic Resource Education Program offers an assortment of online education material on fishing, fisheries management and ecology in the form of various interactive materials. Furthermore, the department also loans fishing equipment to groups and organizations who wish to organize fishing trips in Rhode Island but lack the proper fishing gear.
Avid Rhode Island anglers can join a state-based fishing club or organization for a more well-rounded fishing experience. These associations offer everything from fishing courses to group fishing tournaments:
The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association is a non-profit organization founded by like-minded anglers to provide a forum for sport saltwater fishermen. Focusing on the state's conservation principles and fishing ethics, RISAA is the unified voice of fishing clubs and organizations across Rhode Island. The following are some of its activities:
Affiliated with the RISAA and other fishing clubs, the Ocean State SurfCasters Association's mission is to provide a forum that fosters camaraderie and good sportsmanship between recreational marine fishermen. OSSCA's members have the opportunity to share responsible fishing practices, tips and tricks while participating in group tournaments.