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Angler education calendar

Learn how to fish with MassWildlife's Angler Education Program! Find upcoming events and online resources to get started fishing today.
Kid fishing with instructor

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.

Upcoming events

January 31: Virtual Learn to Ice Fish Clinic – Get ready to enjoy ice fishing this winter with this virtual ice fishing class held in cooperation with the Framingham and Ashland Public Libraries. The clinic will be held on Zoom, 7–8:15 p.m. Click here to register for the event.

February 8: Virtual Learn to Ice Fish Clinic – Get ready to enjoy ice fishing this winter with a virtual ice fishing class! Held on Zoom, 6–7 p.m., you will learn what safe ice is and how to test for it, how to properly dress for the experience, as well as all the necessary gear and tips to get you started. Click here to register for the event.

February 3 & 10: Beginners Fly-Tying Class, Springfield – Learn the basic skills of tying your own flies during this free, hands-on, two-session course offered at the Lake Lorraine Environmental Police Headquarters in Springfield (44 Lake Dr, Springfield), 6–8 p.m. All tools and tying materials are provided. This event is open to the public and is for beginning fly tiers only. Participants must be at least 15 years old to attend. Pre-registration is required. Please contact Jim Lagacy to pre-register at jim.lagacy@mass.gov or call (508) 389-6309.

February 16: Family Ice Fishing Clinic, Medway – Join the fun at this family-friendly, learn to ice fish clinic at Choate Park Pond (7 Oak St, Medway), 4 p.m. until dusk. This event is being held in cooperation with the Medway Parks and Recreation Department. All equipment will be provided. The clinic is open to the public, but pre-registration is required. Click here to visit the Medway Parks and Recreation Office site to register or call (508) 321-4740 for more information. *PLEASE NOTE: LESS THAN 6” OF SAFE ICE, RAIN, OR HEAVY SNOW WILL CANCEL THIS EVENT.

February 23: Family Ice Fishing Clinic, Shrewsbury – Join the fun at this family-friendly, learn to ice fish clinic at Lake Quinsigamond (Corazzini Boat Launch area, 251 North Quinsigamond Ave., Shrewsbury), 4 p.m. until dusk. This event is being held in cooperation with the Shrewsbury Recreation Department. All equipment will be provided. Pre-registration is required; click here to visit the Shrewsbury Recreation Department website or call (508) 841-8503 for more information. *PLEASE NOTE: LESS THAN 6” OF SAFE ICE, RAIN, OR HEAVY SNOW WILL CANCEL THIS EVENT.

Get started fishing on your own

In-person Angler Education programs are limited at this time 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 GoFishMA! online fishing map to find a place to fish near you. (Tip: Use the filter tool at the bottom center of the map to narrow your search and select Featured Sites to see locations that are very easy to access.)

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:

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

Get more tips on how to choose 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
  • Suckers

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.

Online tutorials

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.

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