Rhode Island Fly Fishing 7 min read

Best Fly Fishing in Rhode Island: Top Spots and Tips for Anglers

Ken Sperry

Posted by Ken Sperry

January 24, 2016

Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the US, but it has plenty of opportunities for fly fishing enthusiasts. Rhode Island is a fly fisherman’s paradise with its miles of coastline, numerous rivers and streams, and abundant fish species. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned angler, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful state.

Rhode Island Fishing Map

map of places to fish in Rhode Island

Get Directions to the Fishing Access Points shown above with the DIY Fly Fishing Map

Location and Climate

Rhode Island, a small state in the Northeastern United States, offers fly fishermen a variety of locations to explore. The state’s coastline, rivers, and lakes allow anglers to cast their lines and catch various fish species.

Geographical Location

Rhode Island is situated in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest state in land area, bordered by Connecticut to the west, Massachusetts to the north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. The state’s coastline is approximately 400 miles long and is dotted with bays, harbors, and inlets that provide sheltered fishing spots. Inland, the state is home to numerous lakes, ponds, and rivers that offer a wide range of fishing opportunities.

Climate

Rhode Island’s climate is classified as humid continental, with warm summers and cold winters. The state’s location on the coast means that it is subject to oceanic influences, which can moderate temperatures and bring moisture to the area. Summers are typically mild, with average temperatures in the mid-70s°F (mid-20s°C), while winters can be cold, with average temperatures in the mid-20s°F (around -4°C). Precipitation is spread fairly evenly throughout the year, with snowfall occurring in the winter months.

Overall, the climate in Rhode Island is conducive to fly fishing year-round, with different species of fish being more active during different seasons. Anglers should be aware of weather conditions and check local forecasts before heading out to fish.

Fish Species

Rhode Island boasts a diverse range of fish species, making it a popular destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Here are two of the most common species:

Trout

Trout fishing is popular in Rhode Island, with both rainbow and brown trout being found in the state’s rivers and streams. The Wood River and the Pawcatuck River are both popular spots for fly fishing for trout. Anglers can use dry flies, nymphs, and streamers to catch these fish.

Trout fishing is best during the spring and fall months when the water temperature is cooler. During the summer, trout seek out cooler water, so anglers may need to fish deeper or in shaded areas.

Bass

Smallmouth and largemouth bass can be found in many of Rhode Island’s lakes, ponds, and rivers. The Upper Narragansett Bay and the Sakonnet River are known for their bass fishing opportunities. Anglers can use a variety of flies, including poppers, streamers, and crayfish patterns, to catch these fish.

Bass fishing is best during the summer months when the water temperature is warmer. Anglers should look for areas with structure, such as rocks or fallen trees, where bass like to hide.

Best Fly Fishing Spots

Rhode Island offers some of the best fly fishing spots in the country. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, there are plenty of locations to choose from. Here are some of the top spots to check out:

Narrow River

Narrow River is a popular spot for fly fishing enthusiasts. It’s a tidal river that flows from Narragansett Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. The river is home to a variety of fish species, including striped bass, bluefish, and flounder. Fly fishermen can also catch trout in the upper part of the river. The best time to fish in Narrow River is during the spring and fall.

Wood River

One of the best places to fly fish in Rhode Island is the Wood River. This scenic river is located in the southwestern part of the state and is home to a variety of fish species, including trout, bass, and pickerel. The Wood River is known for its clear water and challenging fishing conditions, making it a favorite spot among experienced fly fishermen.

Wood River is another great spot for fly fishing. It’s located in the southern part of the state and is known for its crystal-clear water. The river is home to a variety of fish species, including brown trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout. The best time to fish in Wood River is during the summer and fall.

Pawcatuck River

Another popular fly fishing destination in Rhode Island is the Pawcatuck River. This river runs along the border of Rhode Island and Connecticut and is home to a variety of fish species, including trout, bass, and shad. The Pawcatuck River is known for its scenic beauty and challenging fishing conditions, making it a favorite spot among experienced fly fishermen.

Pawcatuck River is a popular spot for fly fishermen in Rhode Island. It’s located near the border of Rhode Island and Connecticut and is known for its beautiful scenery. The river is home to a variety of fish species, including smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, and trout. The best time to fish in Pawcatuck River is during the summer and fall.

Overall, Rhode Island has some of the best fly fishing spots in the country. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful day on the river or a challenging catch, there’s something for everyone.

Equipment and Gear

Fly fishing in Rhode Island requires specialized equipment and gear to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience. Here are some essential items to consider:

Rods and Reels

When choosing a fly rod and reel, it is important to consider the type of fish you will be targeting and the size of the water you will be fishing in. A 5-6 weight rod is suitable for most freshwater fishing in Rhode Island, while a 7-8 weight rod is recommended for larger fish such as striped bass. A matching reel with a smooth drag system is essential for landing fish.

Waders and Boots

Waders and boots are necessary for fishing in Rhode Island’s rivers and streams. Breathable waders are recommended to prevent overheating, and felt-soled boots provide excellent traction on slippery rocks. It is also important to wear a wading belt for safety.

Flies

Flies are an essential part of fly fishing and should be chosen based on the type of fish you are targeting and the time of year. Some popular fly patterns for Rhode Island include Clouser Minnows, Pheasant Tail Nymphs, and Woolly Buggers. It is recommended to have a variety of sizes and colors to match the hatch.

Regulations and Permits

Fly fishing in Rhode Island is a popular activity, but it is important to follow the state’s regulations and obtain the necessary permits before casting your line. Here are some key things to keep in mind:

Fishing Licenses

Anyone over the age of 15 must have a valid Rhode Island fishing license to fish in the state’s freshwater or saltwater bodies. Licenses can be purchased online through the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management or at various retail locations throughout the state. Prices vary depending on residency status and the length of the license.

It is important to note that some bodies of water may have additional regulations or permit requirements, so be sure to check with the local authorities before fishing in a new area. For example, some areas may require a special trout stamp for freshwater fishing or a separate permit for fishing in a particular park or wildlife refuge.

Anglers should also be aware of size and bag limits for different species of fish. These limits help ensure that fish populations remain healthy and sustainable for future generations. Violating these limits can result in fines or other penalties.

Overall, it is important for fly fishers to stay informed about the regulations and permits required for fishing in Rhode Island. By following these rules and respecting the state’s natural resources, anglers can enjoy a rewarding and sustainable fishing experience.

Tips and Tricks

Matching the Hatch

One of the most important things to remember when fly fishing in Rhode Island is to match the hatch. This means using a fly that looks like the insects that are currently hatching in the water. The best way to do this is to observe the water and see what insects are present. Once you have identified the insects, choose a fly that looks similar in size, shape, and color.

It’s also important to consider the time of day when choosing a fly. In the morning and evening, when insects are most active, use a fly that imitates a surface insect. During the middle of the day, when insects are less active, use a fly that imitates a subsurface insect.

Other Tips

  • Use a longer leader to avoid spooking the fish.
  • Cast upstream and let the fly drift down to the fish when fishing dries or nymphs.
  • Use a slow, steady retrieve to imitate a baitfish when fishing streamers.
  • Keep your movements and shadows to a minimum to avoid scaring the fish.

By following these tips and tricks, fly fishermen and women can improve their chances of catching fish in Rhode Island’s streams and rivers.

Trip Planning and Accommodations

Rhode Island is a great destination for fly fishing enthusiasts, offering a variety of locations to choose from. Before embarking on a fly fishing trip, it’s important to plan ahead and make necessary arrangements to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.

One of the first things to consider is accommodations. There are several options available, including hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals. Depending on your budget and preferences, you can choose the best option that suits your needs. Some popular choices include:

  • The Ocean House in Watch Hill, which offers luxurious accommodations and stunning ocean views.
  • The Hotel Viking in Newport, which is conveniently located near several fishing spots and offers a range of amenities.
  • The Castle Hill Inn in Newport, which has a private beach and is a great option for those looking for a secluded getaway.

It’s also important to consider the time of year when planning a fly fishing trip to Rhode Island. While the state offers great fishing opportunities year-round, certain seasons may be better than others depending on the type of fish you’re targeting. For instance, spring and fall are great times for trout fishing, while summer is ideal for striped bass and bluefish.

Finally, it’s important to research and obtain any necessary licenses or permits before embarking on a fly fishing trip in Rhode Island. The state requires a fishing license for anyone over the age of 15, and special permits may be required for certain areas or types of fish.

Looking for more places to fish?  Check our DIY Guide to the Best Fly Fishing Destinations in the U.S.