Seasons | Ice Fishing | Bait | Catch-and-Release | Interstate Ponds | Fishing Prohibitions

 

Species

Open season
(All Dates Inclusive)

Daily Creel

Minimum Length1

TROUT 2

Lakes, ponds, major rivers 3, 5, 6

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

3

Housatonic River 4

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

1

20″

All other rivers and brooks

Apr. 1 – Sept. 10
Sept. 11 – Mar. 31

8
3

LAKE TROUT

Wachusett Reservoir 6

(see note 6)

3

Quabbin 6

(see note 6)

2

18″

SALMON (Landlocked)

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

2

15″

AMERICAN SHAD 7 (Connecticut and Merrimack rivers and their tributaries)

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

3

AMERICAN SHAD 7 (All other waters, catch and release only)

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

0

CHAIN PICKEREL

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

5

15″

BLACK BASS (Largemouth and Smallmouth, singly or combined):

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

5

12″

NORTHERN PIKE

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

1

28″

TIGER MUSKIE (Muskellunge)

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

1

28″

WALLEYE

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

5

14″

SMELT 8

Jan. 1 – Feb. 28
May 16 – Dec. 31

ALL OTHER FRESHWATER SPECIES

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

STRIPED BASS and HERRING: For season, size, and possession limits call the Division of Marine Fisheries at (617) 626-1520, or visit their website at www.mass.gov/marinefisheries.

POSSESSION OF: Sturgeon (all species), American Brook Lamprey, Atlantic (sea-run) Salmon, Bridle Shiner, Burbot, Eastern Silvery Minnow, Lake Chub, Longnose Sucker, and Northern Redbelly Dace is illegal! If caught, release immediately. This means remove hook or cut line and return fish to water immediately — do not pose for photographs, place on a stringer, hold in a net, or delay in any way the immediate return and release of these rare fish to the water!

  1. Minimum length is measured as the straight line (not curved over the body) from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail. The tips of any forked tail may be squeezed together for the final measurement.
  2. Trout applies to Brook, Brown, Rainbow, and Tiger Trout (a cross between a female Brown and a male Brook Trout). From Apr. 1 to Sept. 10, no more than 8 trout (as defined) may be taken daily, and only 3 of those trout may be from lakes, ponds, or major rivers3. From Sept. 11 to Mar. 31, no more than 3 trout (as defined) may be taken daily.
  3. Major Rivers: Childs, Coonamessett, Deerfield, Farmington, Green (Colrain), Green (Great Barrington), Ipswich, Jones, Mashpee, Millers, Nissitissit, North (Colrain), North (West Branch), Parker, Quaboag, Quinapoxet, Quinebaug, Seven Mile, Santuit, Scorton Creek, Shawsheen, Squannacook, Stillwater (Sterling, Princeton), Swift (East Branch), Swift (Winsor Dam to Ware River, except as posted), Tully (East and West Branches), Ware, Ware (East Branch), Westfield (all branches).
  4. Mainstem Housatonic only, from the confluence of the East and West Branches to the MA–CT line, exclusive of the catch-and-release areas where no trout may be kept.
  5. Special Brown Trout water: South Pond (Quacumquasit), Brookfield. Total daily creel is 3 trout but only 1 may be a Brown Trout and it must be at least 15″.
  6. Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs: Opening and closing dates are set by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. For Quabbin Reservoir visit www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-central/quabbin-reservoir.html or call (413) 323-7221. For Wachusett / Sudbury Reservoirs visit www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/water-res-protection/watershed-mgmt/wachusett-and-sudbury-reservoir-fishing-guide.html or call (508) 792-7806. Quabbin Reservoir and its tributary streams within the Quabbin Reservation are closed to all fishing except during the open season as set by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The Wachusett/Sudbury/West Waushacum fishing season normally opens the first Saturday in April and closes Nov. 30, but the DCR/DWSP may alter those dates depending on ice conditions. At Wachusett Reservoir, shoreline fishing only is allowed from Gate 6 on Route 70 to Gate 36 on Route 110.
  7. American Shad are Catch-and-Release ONLY on all waters except the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers and their tributaries.
  8. Smelt may be taken by hook and line only.

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ICE FISHING

Anglers are allowed up to five hooks in the water at one time. A hook is defined as an angling device attached to the line of a tip-up or jig stick that is designed to take one fish at a time. This includes plain hooks, treble hooks, spinners, spoons, bait harnesses, jigs, or plugs. The device in question is not restricted to a single hook – lures with multiple treble hooks count as one hook in the water. Hooks can be on any combination of tip-ups or jig sticks, but no more than five hooks total.

All anglers must be able to tend their own hooks (tip-ups or jig sticks). Minors under 15 years old may have up to five hooks in the water. Adults may assist with cutting holes or removing hooks, but minors must be capable of tending tip-ups or jig sticks on their own.

 

BAIT

It is unlawful to take baitfish for the purpose of sale from the inland waters of the Commonwealth. Individuals trapping fish for personal use as baitfish may use only one trap.

  • Baitfish may be taken by licensed anglers at any time for personal use by all lawful methods, including a rectangular net not exceeding 36 square feet of net area or by a hoop or circular net not exceeding 6 feet in diameter or with a fish trap with openings not exceeding one inch. Nets designed to gill fish are prohibited. The following species may be taken for personal use as bait by licensed anglers. Only the fish species listed below may be used as bait, live or dead.

Banded Killifish Fallfish Fathead Minnow Golden Shiner Mummichog Pumpkinseed Rainbow Smelt* Yellow Perch White Sucker

* Smelt may be taken only by hook and line. Possession or use of smelt as bait in inland waters other than during the smelt season is prohibited.

  • Herring: For current regulations on the use, possession, and taking of herring contact the Division of Marine Fisheries, (617) 626-1520 or marine.fish@state.ma.us.
  • Frogs (except leopard frogs) 2½ inches or less snout to vent may be taken by licensed anglers and used as bait; 10 daily, 10 in possession; may not be sold.

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CATCH-AND-RELEASE AREAS

Artificial lures only. No bait in possession.

  • Housatonic River: From the Rte. 20 bridge in Lee downstream to Willow Mill Dam AND from Glendale Dam downstream to the RR bridge in Great Barrington. No fishing from June 15—Aug. 31 inclusive within 100 feet of the mouths of posted tributaries: Beartown Brook; Goose Pond Brook; Hop Brook; and Mohawk Brook.
  • Red Brook: From the outlet of White Island Pond to the inlet of Buttermilk Bay.
  • Nissitissit River: From the New Hampshire border to the Prescott St. Bridge. FLY FISHING ONLY (year-round).
  • Swift River: Winsor Dam to Rte. 9, catch-and-release FLY FISHING ONLY (year-round). Rte. 9 to Cady Lane, catch-and-release, artificial lures only (July 1–Dec. 31); fish harvest and bait allowed (Jan. 1–June 30).
  • Deerfield River: Fife Brook Dam to Hoosac Tunnel, and the section extending from Pelham Brook to the Mohawk Campground.
  • Westfield River, East Branch: Immediately below the Chesterfield Gorge parking lot in Chesterfield to the gate north of the Corps of Engineers parking lot at Knightville in Huntington.
  • Millers River: Templeton/Athol RR bridge to the first dam in Athol and from Wendell Rd. bridge in Orange to the breached dam in Erving center.
  • Quashnet River: From the outlet of John’s Pond to the sign 0.1 mile below Rte. 28.

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FISH CONSUMPTION ADVISORIES

The MA Dept. of Public Health (MDPH) has issued a statewide advisory for pregnant women, nursing mothers, women who may become pregnant, and children under 12 to refrain from consuming fish caught in freshwater due to elevated levels of mercury in fish. MDPH has also issued fish consumption advisories for the general public on selected bodies of water primarily due to PCB and mercury contamination. For more information or a list of waters with fish consumption advisories, contact MDPH, Bureau of Environmental Health, at (617) 624-5757 or www.mass.gov/dph.

INTERSTATE POND LICENSE REGULATIONS

Wallum Lake, Douglas: Fishing permitted by persons duly licensed in Massachusetts or Rhode Island. Rhode Island regulations apply.

Lake Monomonac and Robbins Pond, Winchendon; Long Pond, Tyngsboro and Dracut; Bent Pond, Warwick; Tuxbury Pond, Amesbury: Fishing permitted by persons duly licensed in Massachusetts or New Hampshire. New Hampshire regulations apply.

Colebrook Reservoir, Tolland; Perry Pond, Dudley; Muddy Pond, Southbridge; Breakneck Pond, Sturbridge; Congamond Lake, Southwick; Hamilton Reservoir, Holland: Fishing permitted by persons duly licensed in Massachusetts or Connecticut. Connecticut regulations apply to Colebrook Reservoir, Breakneck Pond, Perry Pond and Muddy Pond. Massachusetts regulations apply to Congamond Lake and Hamilton Reservoir.

Sherman Reservoir, Rowe: Massachusetts regulations apply and MA license required in MA. Vermont regulations apply and VT license required in VT.

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FISHING PROHIBITIONS

  • More than two hooks for fishing open water or more than five hooks when ice fishing. A hook is defined as an angling device attached to a fishing line that is designed to take one fish at a time but is not limited to devices commonly called spinners, spoons, bait harnesses, jigs, or plugs.
  • The taking of any fish from the inland waters of the Commonwealth for the purposes of sale.
  • Lead Sinkers, Lead Weights, and Lead Jigs Weighing Less Than an Ounce. Any sinker or weight made from lead that weighs less than 1 ounce, and any lead jig (meaning any lead-weighted hook) that weighs less than 1 ounce, is prohibited for use in all inland waters of the Commonwealth. The term lead sinker shall not include any other sinkers, weights, fishing lures or fishing tackle including, but not limited to, artificial lures, hooks, weighted flies, and lead-core or other weighted fishing lines.
  • Possession of: Sturgeon (all species), American Brook Lamprey, Atlantic (sea-run) Salmon, Bridle Shiner, Burbot, Eastern Silvery Minnow, Lake Chub, Longnose Sucker, and Northern Redbelly Dace is illegal! If caught, release immediately. This means remove hook or cut line and return fish to water immediately — do not pose for photographs, place on a stringer, hold in a net, or delay in any way the immediate return and release of the fish to the water.
  • Releasing fish or spawn into inland waters, except by permit.
  • Transporting live fish (except bait for personal use) without a permit.
  • Jug, toggle, or trot line fishing.
  • Snagging
  • Poisons, explosives
  • Littering in inland waters.

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