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.
- Housatonic River upper section map
Route 20 bridge in Lee downstream to Willow Mill Dam
- Housatonic River lower section map
Glendale Dam downstream to the railroad bridge in Great Barrington.
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
- Deerfield River upper section map
Fife Brook Dam to Hoosac Tunnel
- Deerfield River lower section map
Pelham Brook to the Mohawk Campground
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
- Swift River map
Winsor Dam to Cady Lane
5. Millers River
- Millers River upper section map
Templeton/Athol railroad bridge to the first dam in Athol
- Millers River lower section map
From Wendell Road bridge in Orange to the breached dam in Erving center
6. Nissitissit River
Special regulations: Fly fishing only
- Nissitissit River map
New Hampshire border to the Prescott Street Bridge
7. Red Brook
- Red Brook map
Outlet of White Island Pond to the inlet of Buttermilk Bay
8. 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
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.