Massachusetts has both inland water and ocean wildlife and the possibility to fish in freshwater and saltwater is making life much more interesting for passionate fishermen and women. It also increases the number of regulations. This is what you need to know about them.


How to start fishing

If you want to go fishing in Massachusetts, you need a fishing license. A permit for freshwater fishing is enough for those who want to catch some fish on inland waters. Both residents or non-residents can get a fishing license.

Some people can fish without it though. Young anglers under 15 years of age and people that own land and want to fish on it can do that without a license, on condition they buy the permits and stamps that are required.

The fishing license is a good start, but you’ll also need a saltwater fishing permit for coastal fishing if you’re 16 or older. A great advantage for anyone owning such a permit is that residents can use it to fish in the coastal waters of neighboring states.

People that use Massachusetts state waters for crabbing or lobstering are expected to possess a permit. This permit gives you the right to place traps and fish edible crabs and lobsters by diving.  


Freshwater season and limits

It’s important to know when to go fishing and what you can keep in possession at the end of the day. Some species enjoy protection and in Massachusetts trout is the freshwater species that is under observation.

You can fish for trout all year round in the major rivers and lakes, but you can’t take more than 3 per day. In South Pond and Brookfield, only one of them can be brown trout if it has reached 15 inches.

Lake trout harvest is regulated in the Wachusett and Quabbin Reservoir at a daily amount of 3 and two respectively.

All other waters except Housatonic River have a daily limit that decreases from 8 trout fish in the months of April through September to 3 during the cold months.  

Landlocked salmon and American shad are other valuable captures. Salmon has to be at least 15 inches, and you can retain 2 per day, but the American shad is catch-and-release in the whole state, except the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers. There is still a creel limit of 3 fish in these waters.

Other species mentioned by Massachusetts regulations are chain pickerel, black bass, northern pike, walleye and tiger muskie.


Saltwater season and limits

There are dozens of fish species you can catch in the saltwater areas of Massachusetts, but some of them are more common, and only a few of them have season restrictions.

Open season for black sea bass lasts from May 21 until the end of August and fishermen can only bag five a day. You must measure them and make sure they are at least 15 inches.

Open season for fluke is between the 22nd of may and the 23rd of September. The statewide limit is four fish measuring at least 17 inches.

If you’re thinking of catching tuna, white marlin, sailfish, swordfish or blue marlin, you must know that there are federal government regulations for those species. Black bass and haddock are also on their list.

Some regulations targeting fish species are different depending on the region fishing takes place. If you are fishing north of Cape Cod, for instance, you can’t collect more than one codfish. Positioning your boat south or east of Cape Cod allows you to increase your daily limit to 10 fish.

Other limits specified by regulations refer to bluefish, haddock, American eel, dab or gray sole. There are no possession limits when you’re fishing for monkfish, redfish, and Pollock.  



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