Quabbin Reservoir Fishing Guide

Welcome to Quabbin Reservoir, the principal drinking water supply for 3 million Massachusetts residents. Since 1946, shore fishing has been allowed at the reservoir, and since 1952 a limited boat fishing program has been in existence. Please help preserve your fishing privileges and protect Quabbin's resources by following all rules and regulations.

DCR will begin accepting credit card sales in 2020 at each of the three boat launch areas.  In addition, an online portal will be available through this web page in late March to purchase 2020 season passes.

Egypt Cove
Egypt Cove, by Clif Read

Table of Contents

Fishing Season, Licenses, and Security Issues

Fishing Season

The 2020 Quabbin Fishing Season runs from April 18 to October 17.

Boat launch areas are open seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. until closing. 

  • April 18 – April 27: 8:00 p.m.
  • April 29 – July 27:  8:30 p.m.
  • July 28 – August 17: 8:00 p.m.
  • August 18 - September 7: 7:30 p.m.
  • September 8 - October 17: 6:30 p.m.

Shore fishing is open 7 days a week for the season.  “Boats Off the Water” times are seasonally adjusted with times posted at each boat launch area; it is approximately 1½  hours before closing.

Quabbin Fishing Guide 2020 (full guide -  5 pages plus map)

Quabbin Fishing Season Handout (one page plus map)

Fishing Licenses

  • All persons over 15 years of age must have a valid MA Fishing/Sporting License or a Quabbin Fishing License.
  • One-day Quabbin Fishing Licenses are available for purchase at the boat launch areas and the MassWildlife website for $5.00.
  • Quabbin Fishing Licenses are limited to the designated shore and boat fishing areas on Quabbin Reservoir during the Quabbin Fishing Season.

Security Issues

  • Notify officials if anything seems out of the ordinary. 
  • Report violations of DCR Regulations, suspicious activities or abnormal environmental conditions to DCR Watershed Rangers or the MA State Police. 
  • Boat Launch Area attendants monitor Marine Band Radio Channel 16 on a routine basis. 
  • National security conditions may require the temporary closure of the watershed to all public access. 
  • Notices will be posted at all access points if closure is necessary.
  • Emergency Contact Information:
    Quabbin Watershed Rangers - (617) 828-2452 (mobile phone)
    MA State Police-Quabbin- (413) 323-7561
    Quabbin Visitor Center- (413) 323-7221

 

Boating Information

Hours of Operation

  • April 18 – April 27: 8:00 p.m.
  • April 29 – July 27:  8:30 p.m.
  • July 28 – August 17: 8:00 p.m.
  • August 18 - September 7: 7:30 p.m.
  • September 8 - October 17: 6:30 p.m.

All Boat Launch Areas are open seven days a week for the season.
Boats Off the Water times are 1½ hours before closing.
Oars, gas, life preservers are supplied for each boat rental.

Boat Launch Fees

Parking and Fishing Access
Vehicle                        $6.00
Vehicle and Trailer*    $8.00           
Seasonal Parking Pass
$50.00

Boat Only, Canoe/Kayak Rental
Full day                       $14.00
Afternoon**                $10.00

Boat and Motor Rental
Full day            $40.00
Afternoon**      $30.00
Senior Citizens (62 and older)
Parking and Season Pass
Boat Rental


Half Price
Half Price weekdays

Handicapped (with placard)
Parking and Season Pass
Boat Rental

Half Price
Half Price

*Parking for vehicle and trailer includes all launching fees
**Afternoon rental starts at  12:30 p.m.
No bills larger than $50 will be accepted.

DCR will begin accepting credit card sales in 2020 at each of the three boat launch areas.  In addition, an online portal will be available through this web page in late March to purchase 2020 season passes.

Quabbin Reservoir Boater ID Card FAQ Sheet

 

To Rent a Boat

  • You must be 16 years or older.
  • You must have a valid MA fishing/sporting license (or a Quabbin Fishing License) and fishing tackle.
  • Maximum of three adults per boat (or two adults and two children)
  • Boats are rented First Come-First Serve.
  • Payments MUST be in cash.
  • We will NOT accept bills larger than $50
  • Rentals before 12:30 p.m. pay full day rate.
  • Complete a Boat Rental Application Form. These are available at the Boat Launch Areas.
  • Damage to or littering in rental boats/motors may result in either loss of fishing privileges, damage charge or both.

Required for Private Boats

  • Intact DCR Quabbin Boat Seal.
  • You must have a valid MA Fishing/Sporting License or a Quabbin Fishing License in your possession and also have fishing tackle (rods, reels, etc.).
  • Chock blocks on vehicles when launching or removing boat from the reservoir.
  • Rubber boots when launching and removing boat from reservoir.
  • Safety equipment in compliance with U.S. Coast Guard Regulations.
  • Maximum of 4 people per boat.
Boat fishing at Quabbin Reservoir

Outboard Motor Size Limits

  • DCR Rental Boats are limited to 10 horsepower (hp) maximum.
  • Private motors must have an intact Quabbin Boat Seal before use.
  • Two-stroke engines: Private boats with 2-stroke engines are limited to
    ½ the Boating Industries of America (BIA) or Outboard Boating Council (OBC) hp rating of the boat up to a maximum of 20 hp.
  • Four-stroke engines: Private boats with 4-stroke engines are limited to
    ½ the BIA or OBC hp rating. Private boats with 4-stroke engines 40 hp or larger are limited to a maximum of 25 hp.
  • Private boats may use two motors provided the total does not exceed the hp limits. If hp exceeds the limits the propeller on larger motor needs to be removed.
  • Combined four-stroke and two-stroke engines may not exceed 20 hp total.

    Canoe and Kayak Rentals

    Private canoe and kayak access to Quabbin Reservoir is not allowed due to concerns with the introduction of aquatic invasive species.

    DCR has a limited number of canoes and kayaks available to rent for fishing on a first come-first serve basis at Boat Launch Areas #2 and #3 for use on the regulating ponds at these areas.

    Fishing/ Sporting Licenses or Quabbin Fishing Licenses are required for renting boats.

    All boating regulations for Quabbin Reservoir apply to these crafts.

    Each person on board a canoe or kayak from September 15-May 15 must wear a USCG approved PFD at all times.

    Additional Resources

    Boat Seal Program

    All private boats must have an intact Quabbin Boat Seal (QBS) to launch on the reservoir. Seals can be obtained through a DCR approved decontamination and inspection process. You can make an appointment by calling the Quabbin Visitor Center at (413) 323-7221.

    • Seals must be intact when arriving at the reservoir for launching.
    • DCR personnel will inspect QBS, then break it before launching.
    • As boats are removed from the reservoir, it will be sealed to the trailer by the attendant.
    • Tampering with QBS is a violation of DCR Rules and Regulations and will result in loss of Quabbin fishing privileges and possible fines.
    • Quabbin Boat Seal Program FAQ
    • Quabbin Reservoir Boat Seal Schedule
      Schedule Update: The April 1 and April 4 dates have been cancelled; people with reservations will be notified directly by DCR for re-scheduling.  Two new dates have been added to the schedule - Tuesday 4/14 and Friday 4/17.  Any further schedule adjustments will be posted on this website.
    Close-up of Quabbin Boat Seal

    Boating and Fishing Rules and Regulations

    Boating Regulations

    • Boat beaching is for rest room facility use or emergencies only.  Ten-minute limit per boat.
    • All private boats must have an intact Quabbin Boat Seal sealing the boat to the trailer.
    • The Quabbin Boat Seal will be broken by the Boat Launch Area Attendant before the boat is launched.  The boat will be resealed to the trailer upon exit from the boat launch area. 
    • Private motors used on DCR Rental Boats must have an intact Quabbin Boat Seal.
    • Private boats may carry a maximum of 4 people
    • Rental boats may carry a maximum of 3 people 
    • All boats must be at least 12 feet long and in compliance with MA boating laws.
    • Jon boats are restricted to the Regulating Ponds above the Horseshoe Dams at Gates 31 and 43.
    • Jon boats larger than 14’ 6” in length are limited to 3 persons; between 12’ and 14’ 6” are limited to 2 persons.
    • DCR Rental Boats are limited to 10 horsepower (hp) maximum.
    • Boats must return to launch area by posted times.
    • Canoes are limited to 2 persons; kayaks are limited to 1 person.
    • No boats may be launched within 2 hours of the posted “Boats Off the Water” time.
    • Boats must be operated at a safe and reasonable speed.
    • Persons under 16 years MUST be accompanied by an adult.
    • Flashlights or a cyalume chemical stick are recommended in the event you need to be rescued.

    PROHIBITED

    • NO landing of boats on shoreline or islands except at designated sites for restroom facility use or emergencies
    • NO alcoholic beverages or cannabis
    • NO dogs or other animals
    • NO swimming or wading
    • NO pontoon boats, inflatable boats, or sailboats
    • NO boating beyond marked limits
    • NO feeding or harassing wildlife
    • NO camping
    • NO fires
    • NO drones
    • NO disposal of materials in the reservoir or reservation
    • NO acts that pollute the water supply

    Violations of DCR/DWSP Regulations are punishable by fines up to $50,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year.

    Rule violations may result in loss of fishing privileges (313 CMR 11.09(2)(b)7.)

    Damage to or littering in rental boats/motors may result in either loss of fishing privileges, damage charge or both.

    Additional Resources

    Boat Launch Areas and Rest Room Facilities

    Boat Launching Area #1 - Gate 8
    William E. Pula Fishing Area-Located in Pelham off Route 202, 4½ miles north of the intersection with Route 9.  This area is considered prime for coldwater fish such as trout and salmon. (lat = 42.3504, lon = -72.4004)

    Boat Launching Area #2 - Gate 31
    Robert D. Wetmore Fishing Area - located in New Salem off Route 122, just south of the intersection with Route 202.  This area provides a great variety of warm water fish in addition to trout and salmon. (lat = 42.5236, lon = -72.2874)

    Boat Launching Area #3 - Gate 43
    Stephen M. Brewer Fishing Area - Located in Hardwick off Greenwich Road, west of Route 32A.  This area offers excellent warm water fishing, in addition to trout and salmon.  (lat = 42.3736, lon= -72.2340)

    Rest Room Facilities

    In order to address sanitary concerns for the fishing program, the DCR has placed temporary rest room facilities at sites throughout the Quabbin Reservation. These sites are marked with white buoys in the water near the landing areas. Please protect Quabbin's water by using the facilities and obeying the following regulations:

    Portable toilets are marked with white buoys.
    Beaching is permitted between the signs, only at designated sites for restroom facility use only (see Quabbin Reservoir Fishing Map ).  Ten-minute limit per boat.

    Fishing Information

    Reservoir Boat Fishing

    See information about Boating and Boat Launch Areas

    Shore Fishing

    • Daylight hours access is permitted during the Quabbin Fishing Season along designated shorelines from Gates 8 to 16A, and from Gates 22 to 44.
    • Nighttime pedestrian fishing access for the Quabbin Reservation is allowed with a permit through Gates 16, 31, 33, 35, 41, & 43 during the period of one hour past sunset to one hour before sunrise. Quabbin Reservoir Night Access application.
    • Nighttime fishing access is allowed without a permit on the off watershed ponds - Peppersmill, Bassett and South Spectacle – and the Swift River below Winsor Dam to Route 9.
    • Vehicles parked in front of gates will be towed at the owner's expense.
    • Bicycle access is permitted only on designated roads between Gates 29 and 35, and at Gates 40, 43A, 43B & 44.
    • Gate 8 bike access is permitted only during the Quabbin fishing season.
    • Parking fees apply to shore fishing at Boat Launch Areas.
    • No fires are permitted at any time.

    Stream Fishing

    Quabbin Reservation - (DCR land within Rts. 202, 122, 32A & 9):   Fishing is permitted during the Quabbin Fishing Season on tributaries which enter the reservoir along shorelines open for fishing.

    Off-Reservation - (DCR land outside Rts. 202, 122, 32A & 9): Fishing is permitted during the regular State Fishing Season.

    Swift River below Winsor Dam: The Swift River from Winsor Dam "Y Pool" to Route 9 is open year-round to fly fishing on a catch and release basis from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. A "No Trespassing Zone" has been established around the Power Station where all public access is prohibited.

    Pond Fishing

    • Carry-in boat access and use is allowed on South Spectacle and Bassett ponds.
    • Boat fishing is allowed on Pepper's Mill Pond with non-motorized, carry-in boats.
    • Allowed on certain ponds in Off-Reservation areas (DCR land outside Rts. 202, 122, 32A & 9) with restrictions.

      Fishing Facts

      Quabbin's fishery is comprised of both coldwater species (trout and salmon) and warmwater species (bass, pickerel, perch, and bullhead). Most of the deep coldwater species occur on Quabbin's west arm, accessible from Gate #8 (Boat Launch Area #1). Deep water fishing is also available on the main part of the reservoir, but Gate #31 (Area #2) and Gate #43 (Area #3) also provide access to shallower waters which are better for warmwater fishing.

      Species State Record

      Species  Creel Number Minimum Size State Record
      Lake Trout 2 18" 25 lbs. 7 oz.  2016
      Brown Trout* 3** none 19 lbs. 10 oz.  1966
      Rainbow Trout* 3** none 13 lbs. 13 oz. 1999
      Brook Trout* 3** none 10 lbs. 0 oz.  2008
      Landlocked Salmon 2 15" 10 lbs. 2 oz.  1985
      Chain Pickerel 5 15" 9 lbs. 5 oz.  1954
      Largemouth Bass** 5 12" 15 lbs. 8 oz.  1975
      Smallmouth Bass** 5 12" 8 lbs. 2 oz.  1991
      All Others --- --- ---

      * Total daily creel is three (3) trout for this group.
      ** Total daily creel is five (5) bass for this group.

      Fishing and Boating Advisories

      Fish Advisory

      • The DCR and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health have issued a health advisory for persons consuming Quabbin fish. 
      • The advisory recommends limiting or eliminating consumption of certain species of fish due to elevated levels of mercury found in fish samples.  
      • Water test results indicate that mercury has not affected the drinking water and levels are well below federal drinking water standards.

      Consult the complete fishing advisory posted on the bulletin boards at the boat launch areas, ask the attendant for further information, or visit www.mass.gov/dph/fishadvisories.

      Harassment of Loons Prohibited

      Keep Boats 500 Feet Away From Loons

      Violators May be Subject to Fines or May Be Banned From Boat Access
      313 CMR 11.09(2)(a)(23); 313 CMR 11.09(2)(b)(7)

      Security Issues

      Here are some tips for keeping yourself safe and secure when fishing or boating in the Quabbin Reservoir:

      • Notify officials if anything seems out of the ordinary.
      • Report violations of DCR Regulations, suspicious activities or abnormal environmental conditions to DCR Watershed Rangers or the MA State Police.
      • Boat Launch Area attendants monitor Marine Band Radio Channel 16 on a routine basis.
      • National security conditions may require the temporary closure of the watershed to all public access.
      • Notices will be posted at all access points if closure is necessary.

      Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

      Aquatic invasive species can be spread from one water body to another in boats and trailers, and on fishing equipment.  These aggressive invasive species displace local plants and animals, negatively impacting local ecosystems, water quality, and fishing.  To minimize the spread of these species please take these precautionary steps:

      • Clean your equipment of any plant fragments or mud or debris before transporting.
      • Dispose of material far away from water bodies.
      • Eliminate water from equipment before transporting.
      • Never release plants, fish or animals into a body of water unless they came from that water body.
      • All boats launched at Quabbin Reservoir must have an intact Quabbin Boat Seal upon arrival.  The boat is resealed to the trailer by the Boat Launch Attendant upon removal from the reservoir.

      For more information, visit www.mass.gov/lakesandponds or www.stopaquatichitchhikers.org.

      Quabbin Loons and Eagles

      Bald Eagle at Quabbin Reservoir

      Quabbin Reservoir is one of the few places in Massachusetts where Common Loons and Bald Eagles are known to consistently nest.  These birds can easily be disturbed during the nesting season and many abandon their nests if approached too closely.  Loons as well as eagles can become entangled in monofilament fishing line and wire leaders.  Line and leaders have been found in Quabbin Bald Eagle nests and could kill young eagles.  To protect these special birds, please obey the following:

      • Dispose of fishing line and sinkers properly.  There is a Fishing Line Recycling receptacle at each boat launch area as well as in many locations around the reservoir.
      • The use of any lead fishing sinkers and lead jigs weighing less than 1 ounce is now prohibited in all Massachusetts inland waters  (freshwater). There is a Lead Recycling Receptacle at each boat launch area as well as in many locations around the reservoir.  We encourage the use of non-toxic weights, sinkers and jigs instead of lead.
      • Boat beaching is for rest room facility use only. Ten-minute limit per boat.
      • Stay well away from loon and eagle nest sites and loons with chicks.
      • Steer boats away from swimming loons or perched eagles.
      • Respect "Wildlife Research Areas" posted with signs or marked with red buoys.
      • Read and obey notices posted at Boat Launch Areas.
      • State and federal laws protecting loons and eagles are strictly enforced.

      For further information on Fishing Sinker, Weight and Jig Regulations, please refer to the notices posted at Boat Launch Areas information boards or the Massachusetts freshwater fishing regulations website:  www.mass.gov/guides/massachusetts-freshwater-fishing-regulations.

      Pair of loons on Quabbin Reservoir

      Bait and Tackle, Camping, and other Accommodations

      Bait & Tackle

      • Bait shops are located near the Boat Launch Areas in Pelham, Belchertown, Ware and Orange.
      • Live bait may be used.
      • Smelt bait is legal only AFTER May 15.
      • Chumming is Prohibited.

      Camping

      Camping is not allowed on DCR's Division of Water Supply Protection property.  However, there are camping opportunities at Massachusetts State Parks and private campgrounds in the region.  For information on state park camping visit www.mass.gov camping-at-massachusetts-state-parks or call ReserveAmerica at (877) 422-6762.  For information on private campgrounds visit www.campmass.com or call (508) 394-3201.

      Accommodations

      Available near the three Boat Launch Areas in Orange, Athol, Ware, and Amherst and near the turnpike access in Chicopee. 

       

      Quabbin Background Information

      Named for the Nipmuc Indian word meaning “meeting of many waters,” Quabbin is one of the largest man-made drinking water reservoirs in the United States.  Created in the 1930s by the construction of Winsor Dam and Goodnough Dike, the reservoir is still one of the largest unfiltered water supplies in the world and remains a remarkable feat of engineering.

      Once the site of the towns of Dana, Prescott, Enfield, and Greenwich, the Swift River Valley was stripped of homes and businesses,  a state highway, railroad line, and 34 cemeteries during reservoir construction.  Ultimately, 2,500 people were removed from the valley to make way for the reservoir.

      Today about two-thirds of the Swift River watershed is owned by the Commonwealth and managed by the DCR’s Division of Water Supply Protection (DCR/DWSP).  Fed by the three branches of the Swift, and seasonally by the Ware River, the reservoir is 18 miles long with 181 miles of shoreline, a capacity of 412 billion gallons and covers 25,000 acres when full. In order to meet the mandate to “utilize and conserve said water and other natural resources…and to assure the availability of pure water for future generations," DCR/DWSP manages 56,000 acres of protected watershed land surrounding the reservoir for drinking water quality purposes by maintaining a healthy and diverse forest cover. On average, the reservoir collects one-half of the water that falls as rain or snow in the watershed area.  Besides providing the principal supply of pure drinking water for 51 communities and 2.5 million residents of Massachusetts, Quabbin also offers a unique site for important scientific research on water quality, forestry, and wildlife topics. 

      For more information, please visit the DCR Quabbin Visitor Center at Winsor Dam in Belchertown, open Sunday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or call (413) 323-7221.

      Contact

      Address

      100 Winsor Dam Rd.
      Belchertown , MA 01007
      Feedback