Wachusett Reservoir and Sudbury Reservoir are open to shoreline fishing only from dawn to dusk starting on the first Saturday in April and ending November 30. Ice cover may affect these dates. No boating is allowed on these reservoirs and each has specific no-fishing areas which are described below.
There are special fishing and boating restrictions for the two primary tributaries to the Wachusett Reservoir – Quinapoxet and Stillwater River – and three watershed ponds. See Section on Fishing and Boating in the Wachusett Watershed below.
Aquatic invasive species are a threat to water quality and all anglers and other visitors to the watersheds are asked to do their part to prevent the spread of these plants and animals. More information on DCR-DWSP’s aquatic invasive projects can be found in the Wachusett Aquatic Invasive Species Assessment and Management Plan.
Wachusett Reservoir is a popular fishing destination where anglers have the opportunity to fish one of the two Lake Trout fisheries in Massachusetts and catch trophy fish (the other is Quabbin Reservoir). For more information, visit the MassWildlife Sportfishing Awards Program site and check out this article: A Line that Binds: Fishing, Family, and the Lure of "The Rez".
Information on studies of the Wachusett fishery can be found in the Wachusett Reservoir Fishery Studies section below.
Shoreline fishing access is allowed through the following areas:
- Route 70: Gates 6 to 16
- Route 140: Gates 17 to 23
- Route 12/110: Gates 25 to the posted limit at the start of the North Dike (Gate 36)
- West Boylston: Thomas, Oakdale, and Stillwater Basins
A map of the property and detailed rules can be found here: Wachusett Reservoir Fishing Map and Rules.
In order to address sanitary concerns for the fishing program, DCR has placed temporary rest room facilities at heavily traveled sites around the Wachusett Reservoir. Facilities are located at the Oakdale Rail-Trail, Old Stone Church, Gate 22, and Gate 36. Please protect Wachusett Reservoir's water by using these facilities.
Shore fishing at the Sudbury Reservoir is permitted everywhere except that portion of the Reservoir closest to the dam. The prohibited area extends from the Route 30 Causeway around the dam to Clemmons Street in Southborough.
A map of the property and detailed rules can be found here: Sudbury Reservoir Fishing Map and Rules.
Fishing and Boating in the Wachusett Watershed
Fishing at West Waushacum Pond, the Quag, and Muddy Pond in Sterling is permitted starting on the first Saturday in April and ending November 30. Ice cover may affect these dates.
- Only boats up to 14 feet in length, canoes, and kayaks are allowed at West Waushacum Pond, the Quag, and Muddy Pond.
- Sail boats and Paddle Boards are not allowed.
- Only electric outboard trolling motors are allowed. All other motors are prohibited.
- Ice fishing is prohibited.
- All other MA fishing and boating regulations apply.
- In the Stillwater River upstream of the confluence with Waushacum Brook
- In the Quinapoxet River upstream of DCR dam at Oakdale Power Station
Canoes and kayaks are permitted
- On the Stillwater River upstream of Muddy Pond Road bridge in Sterling
- On the Quinapoxet River upstream of dam at Oakdale Power Station
Additional information can be found in the Public Access Rules for Wachusett Reservoir.
Regulations and Security Issues
The following are strictly prohibited on DCR Division of Water Supply Protection property in the Wachusett and Sudbury Reservoir watersheds:
- Any bodily contact with the water
- Disposing of human waste, trash, or litter
- Alcoholic beverages
- Motorized vehicles
- Swimming or bathing
- Boating (except as designated at West Waushacum Pond, the Quag, and Muddy Pond in Sterling)
- Smoking or building fires
- Metal Detectors
- Magnet Fishing
- Underwater Drones
- Transport or disposal of invasive or other plant/fish/wildlife species
Violations of DCR/DWSP regulations are punishable by fines up to $50,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year (MGL c. 92A1/2).
Notify officials if anything seems out of the ordinary.
- Report violations of DCR Regulations, suspicious activities or abnormal environmental conditions to DCR Rangers or the MA State Police.
- National security conditions may require the temporary closure of the reservoir to all public access.
- Notices will be posted at all access points if closure is necessary.
- Emergency Contact Numbers
Direct questions to Wachusett/Sudbury Watershed Rangers (978) 365-3800
Report Violations: MEMA State Control (508) 820-2000
MA State Police - Holden: (508) 829-8410 (Wachusett Reservoir)
MA State Police - Millbury: (508) 929-3232 (Sudbury Reservoir)
DCR and its employees are not responsible for any damages or loss of life which may be incurred in connection with the public use of the reservoirs.
Wachusett Reservoir Fishery Studies
Fish are an important component of the reservoir ecosystem and the health of fish populations can have a profound impact on the water quality of the reservoir. For example, predatory game fish in the reservoir, including but not limited to Lake Trout and Smallmouth Bass, may have important top down effects on nutrients, smaller fish, zooplankton, and phytoplankton, which directly impact water quality. DWSP biologists therefore conduct studies in collaboration with MassWildlife to monitor populations including creel surveys and mark recapture studies.
A creel survey is a survey of anglers used to estimate the number, type, and size of fish caught by anglers in a specific water body over a specific time period. In 2017, the DWSP conducted a creel survey of Wachusett Reservoir to assess fish population dynamics, fishing pressure, catch and harvest rates, and angler effort. Below is a selection of results from the 2017 Wachusett Reservoir Creel Survey Report. The full report and can be accessed at the link below.
- Estimated number of angler trips: 13,932
- Estimated number of fish caught: 8,048
- Estimated number of fish harvested: 2,718
- Most popular fish caught: Lake Trout made up 39% of the 2017 total catch
- Number of hours to catch one fish: 6.4
- DCR and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health have issued a health advisory for persons consuming Wachusett and Sudbury fish.
- The advisory recommends limiting or eliminating consumption of certain species of fish due to elevated levels of mercury found in fish samples.
- Water testing results indicate that mercury has not affected the drinking water and its suitability for human consumption.