If you are 15 years of age or older, you need a license to fish. Use the MassFishHunt online system to purchase a license. Note: Licenses are free for Massachusetts residents 15–17 years of age, and those 70 and over.
Online introductory fishing classes
Want to learn how to fish from the comfort of your own home? Join MassWildlife for a free online fishing class! Due to COVID-19, in-person classes are canceled until further notice.
Check back as new virtual courses will be scheduled soon! Scroll down to view recordings of previous classes.
Get started fishing on your own
In-person Angler Education programs have been canceled until further notice due to COVID-19. Luckily, you can learn to fish on your own! Keep reading for tips on getting started.
Where to go
Massachusetts offers many beautiful freshwater lakes, reservoirs, ponds, streams, and rivers where you can fish and enjoy a great day on the water. Use MassWildlife’s featured fishing map to find a lake, pond, or river that is perfect for beginners. When you arrive, choose an open spot without overhanging trees or too much submerged vegetation.
What to bring
If you’re new to fishing, you don’t need tons of fancy equipment. MassWildlife suggests that you take:
- A simple push button spin casting setup (Read tips on selecting rod & reel combos for beginners.)
- Hooks and bobbers
Types of bait: If you get squeamish around wriggling worms, there are plenty of other options for bait. Fishing lures can be expensive and tricky to use, so they may not be the best choice when you’re just starting out. Instead, MassWildlife recommends:
- Garden worms or mealworms
- Small, dense pieces of food like cheese, chicken, hot dogs, or bread
- Artificial pellet or paste bait
What to fish for
Now that your gear is ready, what should you fish for? There are many different types of freshwater fish in Massachusetts to choose from:
- Trout and salmon
- Pike and pickerel
- Perch and walleye
- Bass and sunfish
- Catfish and bullheads
If you’re new to fishing, try fishing in the late spring, summer, and early fall. Warmwater fish like sunfish are more active during this time and easier to catch. Check the Massachusetts freshwater fishing regulations to find out if there are season, size, or catch (creel) limits.
MassWildlife has offered virtual seminars on fishing throughout the last year. You can watch the recordings here:
All About Ice Fishing: Angler Education Coordinator Jim Lagacy gives his best tips for getting started ice fishing, including safety, gear, bait, and more.
Fall Trout Fishing Tips: MassWildlife Hatchery Manager Caleb Slater, Assistant Director of Fisheries Todd Richards, and Angler Education Coordinator Jim Lagacy talk all things trout in Massachusetts! They give important updates about fall trout stocking, show you how to find trout stocked waters near you, and offer fall trout fishing tips.
Finding Bass in Mass: Professional bass angler Gene Ellison joins MassWildlife staff and divulges some of his best tips for finding and catching bass. Jason Stolarski, MassWildlife Watershed Project Leader, talks about how he catches and studies bass and other fish in lakes and ponds across Massachusetts with fisheries sampling gear. Todd Richards, MassWildlife Assistant Director of Fisheries, demos some great online tools to help you find bass on your own.
Family Fishing Tips: Wondering what the right age is to introduce your kids to fishing, what bait you should use, or where to go? We've got you covered! MassWildlife's Angler Education Coordinator Jim Lagacy and Communications Coordinator Emily Stolarski chat about tips and tricks for fishing with kids.
Get even more information with these helpful fishing tips and tutorials.