Freshwater Fishing, Hunting, and Trapping Licenses

Licenses to hunt and fish in fresh water (inland waters) are required of anyone 15 years and over. Trapping licenses are required for anyone 12 years old and over.

Anyone under 15 who wants to fish in freshwater may do so, no license is required and the young angler must follow all other freshwater fishing laws.

The minimum age for hunting in Massachusetts is 12. 12-14 year olds may hunt only when accompanied by a licensed hunter 18 years or older, provided that a single bag limit is shared and a single firearm/bow is shared between the two people. Only one minor per adult is permitted. All other hunting laws and regulations must be followed. No license is required until age 15. (see Hunting License Purchase Requirements )

Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permits

Who needs the MA Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit?
In order to fish recreationally for finfish in Massachusetts marine waters, including up to the first upstream bridge in rivers and streams that flow to the ocean ( click here for exceptions to the rule pdf format of bounds_exceptions.pdf
), saltwater fishermen  must have:

   A MA Recreational Saltwater Fishing permit, or
   A recreational saltwater fishing permit from a state that has a reciprocity agreement with Massachusetts.  As of February 17, 2011, Massachusetts has reciprocity agreements with:
        New Hampshire: MA to NH pdf format of reciprocity_individual_ma_nh.pdf
NH to MA pdf format of reciprocity_individual_nh_ma.pdf
        Rhode Island: MA to RI pdf format of reciprocity_individual_ma_ri.pdf
RI to MA pdf format of reciprocity_individual_ri_ma.pdf
        Connecticut: MA to CT pdf format of reciprocity_rec_permit_ma_to_ct.pdf
CT to MA pdf format of reciprocity_rec_permit_ct_to_ma.pdf

Who does not need a permit?
No permit is required for:

   Fishermen who are under 16 years of age
   Fishermen fishing on permitted for-hire vessels
   Fishermen who regardless of their age, otherwise meet the definition of a disabled person in M.G.L. c. 19C

What about people 60 and older?
People 60 and older must obtain a permit but the permit is free for these individuals (although a small fee will be charged by the vendor to process the permit through the internet).

Do all recreational fishermen on a private vessel need to purchase a recreational fishing permit or is there a boat permit available?
All recreational fishermen ages 16 to 59 must purchase an individual permit and those fishermen age 60 or over must obtain a free permit if not fishing aboard a permitted for-hire vessel on a charter or headboat trip. There is no permit available for a private fishing vessel or any type of family permit that covers multiple family members.

Does my for-hire permit allow me to fish recreationally in salt water when not involved in for-hire activity?
Yes, it does cover you as an individual angler provided that the for-hire permit is issued in your name. You must have the for-hire permit in your possession.

If I have a Highly Migratory Species permit am I exempt from the MA permit?
If you are finfishing exclusively in federal waters and possess an HMS permit, you do not need a MA permit as long as you do not land any fish in Massachusetts. If you retain fish and bring them back into MA state waters, or you fish in state waters,  then you will need the MA permit.