1. Trout Season Dates, Creel Limits and Size Limits:
The open seasons, daily creel limits, and size limits (minimum length in inches) for the taking of trout in Massachusetts are as listed in the following Table:
SpeciesArea
Daily
Creel
Minimum
Length
(inches)
Open Season
(All Dates Inclusive)
Brown TroutSpecial Management Lakes/Ponds A
Total daily creel not to exceed one brown trout
1
15
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
Brook, Brown, Tiger & Rainbow TroutOther Lakes/Ponds
Total daily creel not to exceed three trout in any combination
 
3
None
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
Brook, Brown, Tiger & Rainbow TroutMajor Rivers B
Total daily creel not to exceed three trout in any combination
3
None
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
Brook, Brown, Tiger & Rainbow TroutOther Rivers and Streams
Total daily creel not to exceed eight trout in any combination
8
None
Apr. 1 - Sep. 10
Brook, Brown, Tiger & Rainbow TroutOther Rivers and Streams
Total daily creel not to exceed three trout in any combination
3
None
Sep. 11 - Mar. 31
Brown Trout
(sea run)
 
Rivers as listed C
 
2
None
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
(except posted areas)
Lake Trout
 
Wachusett Res.
3
None
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
Lake TroutAll Other Waters
2
18
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31

A Special Brown Trout Management Waters: South Pond (Quacumquasit), Brookfield.

B Major Trout Rivers: Childs River (Falmouth, Mashpee), Coonamesset River, Deerfield River, East Branch Swift River, East and West Branches Tully River, East Branch Ware River, Farmington River, Green River (Colrain), Green River (Great Barrington), Jones River (Kingston, Plympton), Ipswich River, Mashpee River, Millers River, Nissitissit River, North River (Colrain), Parker River, Quaboag River, Quinebaug River, Santuit River, Scorton Creek, Seven Mile River, Shawsheen River, Squannacook River, Stillwater River, Swift River (Winsor Dam to Ware River, except as posted), Ware River, West Branch North River, Westfield River (all branches).

2. Landlocked and Atlantic Salmon Season Dates, Creel Limits and Size Limits: The open seasons, daily creel limits, and size limits (minimum length in inches) for the taking of landlocked salmon and Atlantic Salmon in Massachusetts are listed in the following Table.

SpeciesArea
Daily
Creel
Minimum
Length
(inches)
Open Season
(All Dates Inclusive)
Landlocked SalmonAll Waters
2
15
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
Broodstock SalmonAAll Waters
-
-
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
Atlantic SalmonAll Waters
-
-
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31

A. Atlantic Salmon and Brood Salmon: The harvest of Atlantic salmon (including broodstock salmon) is lawful in all inland waters of Massachusetts, except in (a) the Connecticut River and all its tributaries, and (b) the Merrimack River downstream of the Essex Dam in the City of Lawrence, and all tributaries of the Merrimack River downstream of the Essex Dam in the City of Lawrence. No person shall possess an Atlantic salmon (including broodstock salmon) while fishing in the Connecticut River and all its tributaries, or in the Merrimack River downstream of the Essex Dam in the City of Lawrence, or in any tributary of the Merrimack River downstream of the Essex Dam in the City of Lawrence.

3. Smelt Season Dates, Creel Limits and Size Limits: The open seasons, daily creel limits, and size limits (minimum length in inches) for the taking of smelt in Massachusetts are listed in the following Table:

SpeciesArea
Daily
Creel
Minimum
Length
(inches)
Open Season
(All Dates Inclusive)
SmeltAAll Waters
-
None
May 16 - last day of Feb.

A. Smelt may be taken in all inland waters by hook and line only from May 16 to the last day of February, except in Quabbin Reservoir where smelt may be taken only in the open water of the reservoir where fishing is permitted from May 16 to the close of the Quabbin fishing season. There is no daily or seasonal creel limit for smelt. The possession of smelt or their use as bait in inland waters other than during the established open season on smelt is prohibited.

4. Striped Bass Season Dates, Creel Limits and Size Limits: Taking of striped bass in all waters of Massachusetts is governed by the rules and regulations (322 CMR) of the Division of Marine Fisheries. Sale of striped bass from inland waters is prohibited.

5. All Other Fish Season Dates, Creel Limits and Size Limits: The open seasons, daily creel limits, and size limits (minimum length in inches) for the taking of all other freshwater fish in Massachusetts are listed in the following Table:

SpeciesArea
Daily
Creel
Minimum
Length
(inches)
Open Season
(All Dates Inclusive)
Black Bass
(Largemouth or Smallmouth)
 
All Waters
5
12
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
Chain PickerelAll Waters
5
15
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
Northern PikeAll Waters
1
28
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
Tiger MuskellungeAll Waters
1
28
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
WalleyeAll Waters
5
14
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
American ShadAll Waters
6
None
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31
HerringAll Waters
Refer to 322 CMR (Div. Marine Fisheries)
SturgeonAll Waters
-
-
No Open Season
All Other SpeciesAll Waters
-
None
Jan. 1 - Dec. 31

6. Dukes and Nantucket Counties: The provisions of these regulations shall not apply to the taking of white perch in Dukes and Nantucket Counties.

7. Reservoirs Under the Control of the Department of Conservation and Recreation: Quabbin Reservoir and that portion of its tributary streams within the Quabbin Reservoir, Wachusett Reservoir, and Sudbury Reservoir are closed to all fishing except during the open season for access as established by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

8. Licenses: Resident Massachusetts anglers require a resident fishing or sporting license. Non-residents require a non-resident fishing license. Three-day licenses may be obtained by both residents and non-residents. Minors aged 15-17 (both resident and non-resident) may obtain a minor fishing license. Minors aged 14 and under do not require a fishing license. There is a special 1-day license for the Quabbin Reservoir only, which may be obtained at the Quabbin access points.

9. Fishing Implements. Fish may not be taken in the inland waters of Massachusetts by any means other than angling, except that carp, suckers, and eels may be taken by archery or spear, and eels may be taken in pots by licensed commercial fishermen by permit. Bait fish may be taken in certain nets (see bait fish regulations).

10. Catch-and-Release Fishing Areas: The following requirements apply to all catch-and-release fishing areas. All fish caught must be released. Fishing is allowed with artificial lures only. The use of natural or artificial baits, including, but not limited to, worms, shiners or other live bait, cheese, corn, or salmon or other fish eggs is prohibited. Fish in possession in any catch-and-release area is a prima facie violation of these regulations. Designated catch-and-release fishing areas are as follows:

(a) East Branch of the Westfield River: extending from the Chesterfield Gorge parking lot in the Town of Chesterfield downstream 6 miles to the gate north of the Corps of Engineers basin parking lot at Knightville in the Town of Huntington;

(b) Millers River: Bears Den Segment, extending from a railroad bridge in the Towns of Athol and Templeton downstream 6½ miles to the first dam in the Town of Athol. Wendell Segment, extending from the Wendell Road bridge in the Towns of Orange and Wendell downstream 1½ miles to a breached dam in the Towns of Erving and Wendell;

(c) Nissitissit River: in the Town of Pepperell, extending from the New Hampshire border downstream to the Prescott Street bridge. In addition to these provisions, fly fishing only is permitted on the Nissitissit River catch-and-release area. All anglers must use a conventional fly rod and fly line.

(d) Quashnet River: extending from Johns Pond in the Town of Mashpee downstream 4½ miles to the sign 0.1 miles south of Rte. 28 in the Town of Falmouth;

(e) Red Brook: from White Island Pond in the Town of Plymouth downstream 4½ miles to Buttermilk Bay in the Town of Wareham;

(f) Swift River: from the Winsor Dam to the Rte. 9 bridge crossing. In addition to these provisions, fly fishing only is permitted on the Swift River between Winsor Dam and the Rte. 9 crossing. All anglers must use a conventional fly rod and line.

(g) Swift River: from the Rte. 9 bridge crossing downstream to Cady Lane. Catch-and-release fishing is mandated only during the period from July 1 to December 31;

(h) Upper Deerfield River: Segment #1, extending from Fife Brook Dam downstream 1½ miles to the Hoosac Tunnel railroad trestle; and Segment #2, extending from the mouth of Pelham Brook downstream one mile to the Mohawk Campgrounds.

(i) Housatonic River: from the Rte. 20 bridge in Lee downstream to the Willow Mill Dam in Lee, and, from the Glendale Dam in Great Barrington downstream to the Boston and Maine railroad bridge in Great Barrington.

11. Prohibited:

(a) fishing in the Merrimack River in the area downstream from the Essex Dam to the Boston and Maine Railroad Bridge;

(b) fishing in the canal systems in the Cities of Lawrence and Lowell during the month of April;

(c) taking fish in the inland waters of Massachusetts by snagging;

(d) taking fish in the inland waters of Massachusetts by poison, explosive, float or toggle;

(e) taking fish in the inland waters of Massachusetts by any means other than by angling, except that eels, carp, and suckers may be taken by spears or archery, and that eels may be taken in pots by licensed commercial fishermen under permit;

(f) taking fish in the inland waters of Massachusetts by net, seine, trawl, or similar device, except for the taking of bait fish pursuant to the Massachusetts bait fish regulations;

(g) setting or using more than two hooks for fishing, or, in the case of ice fishing, five hooks;

(h) taking or attempting to take fish at a time other than as provided in these regulations or to possess at any time a greater number of fish or of fish of a length less than provided in these regulations or to possess fish at a period or in an area other than so provided. Such taking or possession shall be a prima facie violation of these regulations, however, the taking or having in possession of a fish less than as provided in the regulations shall not be a violation if taken by a person lawfully fishing and if that person immediately returns the fish alive to the waters from which it was taken.

(i) fishing with lead sinkers, lead weights, or lead jigs weighing less than 1 ounce in the inland waters of Massachusetts, effective January 1, 2012.

12. Taking, Sale, and Possession of Bait Fish: see the Bait Fish regulations as provided for in 321 CMR 4.01(8).

13. Definition: There are technical definitions of certain terms, including "float", "hook", "lead sinker", "minimum legal length in inches", "snagging", "tiger muskellunge", and "tiger trout". These terms are formally defined in 321 CMR 4.01(1).

This is not the entire law, and is subject to change. Refer to the Taking of Certain Fish regulations in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations, 321 CMR 4.01 and to several provisions of the Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 131.

Last Revised: 10-16-09.