Dust off those rods and reels and break out the tackle box.
The 2012 trout and general freshwater fishing season begins at 6 a.m. on Saturday, April 14.
More than 20,000 anglers are expected to turn out at dawn on opening day.
Approximately 80,000 hatchery raised brook, brown, and rainbow trout with an average individual weight of one and a half pounds have been stocked by Division staff in more than 100 ponds and streams for opening day.
“Getting out at the crack of dawn on opening day is a time-honored tradition in Rhode Island,” noted DEM Director Janet Coit. “This is a great opportunity for anglers of all ages to grab their fishing poles and experience the delight of catching the first trout of the season.”
In addition to the six regular ponds that are restricted to children 14 years of age and younger, Cass Pond in Woonsocket, Slater Park Pond in Pawtucket, and Ponderosa Pond in Little Compton will be open for children-only during the first two days of the fishing season.
The 24th annual Woonsocket Lodge of Elks children's fishing derby at Cass Pond will be held on Saturday, April 14 from 6 to 11 a.m.
The event is being sponsored by the Recreation Department and the Elks.
The derby is for boys and girls 12 and under, and is free, but children have to register. Registration may be completed at the Recreation Department on River Street or at Pete's Bait Shop on Burnside Avenue.
Awards will be presented at 11:30 a.m. in a variety of categories, such as largest fish and most fish caught. During the derby, Elks Club members will provide hot dogs, soda and hot chocolate.
Participants are reminded that no lures or corn can be used and that a parent can cast for their children, but cannot land fish.
The Little Compton Grange is hosting a fishing derby for children on Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15 at Ponderosa Pond, which is being stocked this year for the second year in a row. In Warwick, the Tri-City Elks Lodge will hold its annual opening day children's derby at the pond located behind the Elks Lodge at 1414 West Shore Road on Saturday, April 14.
A 2012 fishing license is required for anglers 15 years of age and older wishing to catch fish. A Trout Conservation Stamp is also required of anyone wishing to keep or possess a trout or to fish in a catch-and-release or 'fly-fishing only' area. Fishing licenses and the Trout Conservation Stamp ($5.50) can be obtained at any city or town clerk's office or authorized agent such as bait and tackle shops and Benny's.
A current list of license vendors is available on the DEM website, www.dem.ri.gov  by clicking on “Hunting, Fishing, Boating Licenses” from the top left of the homepage, and scrolling down to “Hunting/Fishing Agents.” Anglers are encouraged to check the list prior to visiting a vendor to purchase a license. Licenses may also be obtained at DEM's Boat Registration and Licensing Office located at 235 Promenade Street in Providence. As an added convenience, anglers may purchase their fishing license online via ri.gov by clicking on “Hunting, Fishing, Boating Licenses” on the left side of the homepage on the DEM website at www.dem.ri.gov . License fees remain at $18 for Rhode Island residents and current members of the Armed Forces, $33 for a combination hunting and fishing license, $35 for non-residents, and $16 for a tourist three-consecutive-day license. Anglers over 65 must have a license, which for them is free, but do not need a trout stamp. The license is also free for anyone with a 100 percent disability.
A list of stocked ponds and other information of interest to anglers can be found on DEM's website at by clicking on “Fish and Wildlife” under “Offices and Divisions,” then “Freshwater Fisheries,” then “Trout Stocked Waters.”
Anglers should make an extra effort to take personal safety precautions, such as not standing too close to the shoreline and being aware of their surroundings, so that they can enjoy a safe 'opening day' fishing experience. Boaters are also being urged to take appropriate safety precautions, particularly those who fish from canoes on lakes, ponds and rivers with dams. Even though the air temperatures are rising, water temperatures are still low and situations can quickly turn dangerous.
State law requires that boaters always have personal flotation devices for each person, and that they do not drink and operate a boat. Boaters should also be sure their craft is seaworthy before going out on the state's waterways.