Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program

Since 1963, MassWildlife’s Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program has recognized anglers who catch exceptional freshwater fish across Massachusetts. The goal of the Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program is to foster a joy for angling in the many aquatic habitats the state has to offer. From rivers and streams to lakes and ponds, Massachusetts offers opportunities to catch over 20 species of fishes.

Table of Contents

Program overview

The Program runs for the calendar year. All entries must be submitted within 30 days of the date of the catch. December affidavits must be submitted no later than January 10th of the following year. We encourage online submissions for faster processing.

If you want to keep your fish, enter the catch-and-keep category.

If you want to release the fish, enter the catch-and-release category.

Awards

Bronze pins: If you submit a fish that meets the minimum weight or minimum length requirements for an eligible species, you’ll get a bronze pin for that species.

Gold pins: If you submit the largest or longest fish in an eligible species category, you’ll get a gold pin and a plaque. You’ll also be honored in a MassWildlife awards event.

Angler of the Year awards are given to anglers who catch the most species that meet either length or weight requirements.

Want to scope out the competition?

Check out the list of current sportfishing leaders, to see what the biggest catches are so far. The leader board is updated every Friday.

Catch-and-Keep rules

  1. All legally licensed anglers are eligible for the Massachusetts Freshwater Sportfishing Awards.
  2. Anglers aged 17 or under are eligible for Youth Sportfishing Awards. Anglers aged 15-17 must have a license to fish.
  3. Fish must be taken from Massachusetts waters (or from one of the interstate ponds listed in the Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Trapping) that are open to the public at all times. Fish taken from private ponds or fish and game club ponds are NOT eligible for awards. This rule does not apply to the Wachusett or Quabbin Reservoirs or other public bodies of water which are closed on a seasonal basis.
  4. Fish must be caught on hook and line, except carp, which may also be taken with spears or bow and arrow.
  5. For the Catch and Keep category, fish must be weighed on a scale certified by the Massachusetts Division of Standards or a town official (no personal scales allowed), and the weighing must be witnessed by a second party. Scales must be certified the year of catch. Proof of certification must be provided to MassWildlife. Click here to find a place to weigh your catch.
  6. A clear, side view, close-up photograph of the fish against a flat, clearly labeled measuring device must be included with all affidavits. Affidavits for catfish and bullheads must also include a photograph of the top view of the fish (see example below).
  7. Any potential Catch and Keep state record fish must be presented in its entirety (whole) to Fisheries staff at MassWildlife Field Headquarters or at any of the five district offices.
  8. Transportation of live fish is prohibited without a permit. Any fish submitted for weighing must be dead.
  9. Completed affidavits and all required photos must be submitted within 30 days of the date of catch. Note: December affidavits must be submitted no later than January 10th of the following year. We encourage online submissions for faster processing.
  10. All photos must be original and unedited. Photos that have been altered in any way or imported into a photo-editing software or otherwise changed from their original form will not be accepted.
  11. All photos or images associated with the program, including those submitted by anglers or taken by MassWildlife staff, become property of MassWildlife. Names of anglers and images may be used in agency publications, promotional materials, or for other non-commercial use.
  12. MassWildlife reserves the right to change or modify the program rules at any time. All decisions by MassWildlife are final.
Include a dorsal view image for catfish and bullhead entries.
Include a dorsal view image for catfish and bullhead entries.

Catch-and-Keep minimum weights

Below are the minimum weights for fish submitted for both the adult and youth categories of the Freshwater Sportfish Awards Program. Anglers submitting fish that meet these weights will receive a bronze pin for their catch.

Minimum Weights by Species
Species Adult Youth
Bowfin  6 lb. 0 oz. 4 lb. 0 oz.
Brook trout 2 lb. 0 oz. 1 lb. 0 oz.

Brown trout

4 lb. 0 oz.

2 lb. 0 oz.

Bullhead

2 lb. 0 oz.

1 lb. 0 oz.

Carp

15 lb. 0 oz.

10 lb. 0 oz.

Chain pickerel

4 lb. 8 oz.

3 lb. 0 oz.

Channel catfish

6 lb. 0 oz.

5 lb. 0 oz.

Crappie

1 lb. 8 oz.

1 lb. 0 oz.

Lake trout

7 lb. 0 oz.

5 lb. 0 oz.

Landlocked salmon*

4 lb. 0 oz.

3 lb. 0 oz.

Largemouth bass

7 lb. 0 oz.

4 lb. 0 oz.

Northern pike

15 lb. 0 oz.

10 lb. 0 oz.

Rainbow trout

3 lb. 0 oz.

2 lb. 0 oz.

Shad

5 lb. 0 oz.

3 lb. 0 oz.

Smallmouth bass

4 lb. 8 oz.

3 lb. 0 oz.

Sunfish*

0 lb. 12 oz.

0 lb. 8 oz.

Tiger muskellunge

10 lb. 0 oz.

7 lb. 0 oz.

Tiger trout

2 lb. 0 oz.

1 lb. 0 oz.

Walleye

4 lb. 0 oz.

2 lb. 0 oz.

White catfish

4 lb. 0 oz.

2 lb. 0 oz.

White perch

1 lb. 8 oz.

1 lb. 0 oz.

Yellow perch

1 lb. 8 oz.

1 lb. 0 oz.

*Includes bluegill, pumpkinseed, redbreast sunfish, green sunfish, and rock bass

Catch-and-Release rules

  1. All legally licensed anglers are eligible for the Massachusetts Freshwater Sportfishing Awards.
  2. Fish must be taken from Massachusetts waters (or from one of the interstate ponds listed in the Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Trapping) that are open to the public at all times. Fish taken from private ponds or fish and game club ponds are NOT eligible for awards. This rule does not apply to the Wachusett or Quabbin Reservoirs or other public bodies of water which are closed on a seasonal basis.
  3. Fish must be caught on hook and line.
  4. For the Catch and Release category, fish must be measured at the site of capture, photographed against a standard measuring device, then immediately released. Transportation of live fish is prohibited without a permit.
  5. A clear, side view, close-up photograph of the fish against a flat, clearly labeled measuring device must be included with all affidavits. The photo must include the entire fish and the measurement must be clearly discernible. Affidavits for catfish and bullheads must also include a photograph of the top view of the fish (see example below).
  6. A total length measurement will be used (see diagram below). All fish measurements will be rounded up to the nearest ¼ inch.
  7. Completed affidavits and all required photos must be submitted within 30 days of the date of catch. Note: December affidavits must be submitted no later than January 10th of the following year. We encourage online submissions for faster processing.
  8. All photos must be original and unedited. Photos that have been altered in any way or imported into a photo-editing software or otherwise changed from their original form will not be accepted.
  9. All photos or images associated with the program, including those submitted by anglers or taken by MassWildlife staff, become property of MassWildlife. Names of anglers and images may be used in agency publications, promotional materials, or for other non-commercial use.
  10. MassWildlife reserves the right to change or modify the program rules at any time. All decisions by MassWildlife are final.
measure the total length of the fish
Make sure to photograph the entire fish alongside a clearly visible measuring device.
Include a dorsal view image for catfish and bullhead entries.
Include a dorsal view image for catfish and bullhead entries.

Key Actions for Catch-and-Release rules

Catch-and-Release minimum lengths

Species

Length (inches)

Bowfin 26
Brook trout 16
Brown trout 22
Bullhead 15
Carp 31
Chain pickerel 25
Channel catfish 25
Crappie 14
Lake trout 30
Landlocked salmon 22
Largemouth bass 21
Northern pike 36
Rainbow trout 20
Shad 22
Smallmouth bass 20
Sunfish* 10
Tiger muskellunge 34
Tiger trout 16
Walleye 24
White catfish 19
White perch 14
Yellow perch 14

* Includes bluegill, pumpkinseed, redbreast sunfish, green sunfish and rock bass

What to do if you think you caught a state record fish

View a list of Massachusetts freshwater fish records.

If you think your trophy fish may have broken a state record, it  needs to be weighed by a MassWildlife Fisheries Biologist. Please email Steven.Mattocks@mass.gov to make an appointment to bring your fish into one of our office locations. The fish must be presented in its entirety (whole). In keeping with MassWildlife regulations prohibiting the transportation of live fish without a permit, any fish submitted for weighing must be dead.

Pin winners and Angler of the Year winners

Buy your freshwater fishing license

If you're 15 or older, you need a fishing license. Fees vary depending on your age, whether you're a state resident, and whether you have a disability.

Key Actions for Buy your freshwater fishing license

Get printable entry forms

The easiest way to enter your catch in the Sportfish Awards Program is by using an online form (Catch-and-keep affidavit or Catch-and-release affidavit).

If you prefer to print and mail a form use one of the links below:

Additional Resources for Get printable entry forms

Image credits:  masswildlife
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