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Catch-and-release fishing areas

You can find freshwater catch-and-release areas along specific sections of rivers and brooks across Massachusetts.
catch and release areas massachusetts

Find a catch-and-release area

You may only use artificial lures in catch-and-release areas. You may not use bait. Some areas have additional restrictions.

1. Housatonic River
Special regulations: no fishing from June 15–Aug. 31 within 100 feet of mouths of Beartown Brook, Goose Pond Brook, Hop Brook, and Mohawk Brook.

2. Westfield River, East Branch

  • Westfield River map
    Chesterfield Gorge parking lot in Chesterfield to the gate north of the Corps of Engineers parking lot at Knightville in Huntington

3. Deerfield River

4. Swift River
Special regulations:
Fly fishing only from Winsor Dam to Rte. 9. Rte.9 to Cady Lane, catch-and-release/artificial lures only from July 1-Dec 31, fish harvest and bait allowed Jan.1-June 30

5. Millers River

6. Nissitissit River
Special regulations: Fly fishing only

7. Quashnet River

  • Quashnet River map
    Catch-and-release sections: from the outlet of John’s Pond to the sign 0.1 mile below Route 28

8. Red Brook

  • Red Brook map
    Outlet of White Island Pond to the inlet of Buttermilk Bay

 

     

      Catch and landing tips

      Help protect the fish in catch-and-release areas by following a few simple tips. 

      • When you fish, try not to let the fish struggle for too long.
      • Set the hook in the fish’s mouth as soon as you get a bite so the fish doesn’t swallow it.
      • Use a landing net to cut down on catch time and stop the fish from thrashing.

      Handling and release tips

      To safely return a fish to the water, you should:

      • Wet your hands so you don’t harm the protective mucous on the fish
      • Support the fish by the belly when you remove your hook and avoid touching its gills or eyes
      • If the fish swallowed a hook: cut the line off as close to its mouth as possible
      • If the fish is tired, hold it in the water in a swimming position and move it back and forth horizontally until it can swim.

      Enter your catch

      You can get involved in MassWildlife’s Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program even if you release your fish. Check out the rules and length requirements for submitting catch-and-release fish.

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