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Catch and release rules and minimum lengths

MassWildlife's Freshwater Sportfishing Awards program complete rules for the catch & release category.


Complete the electronic sportfishing affidavit form (be prepared to upload photo) or download and mail the sportfishing affidavit with a printed photo (form is below).

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  1. All legally licensed anglers are eligible for the Massachusetts Freshwater Sportfishing Awards.
  2. Fish must be taken from Massachusetts waters (or from one of the interstate ponds listed in the Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Trapping) that are open to the public at all times. Fish taken from private ponds or fish and game club ponds are NOT eligible for awards. This rule does not apply to the Wachusett or Quabbin Reservoirs or other public bodies of water which are closed on a seasonal basis.
  3. Fish must be caught on hook and line.
  4. For the Catch and Release category, fish must be measured at the site of capture, photographed against a standard measuring device, then immediately released. Transportation of live fish is prohibited without a permit.
  5. A clear, side view, close-up photograph of the fish against a flat, clearly labeled measuring device must be included with all affidavits. The photo must include the entire fish and the measurement must be clearly discernible. Affidavits for catfish and bullheads must also include a photograph of the top view of the fish (see example below).
  6. A total length measurement will be used (see diagram below). All fish measurements will be rounded up to the nearest ¼ inch.
  7. Completed affidavits and all required photos must be submitted within 30 days of the date of catch. Note: December affidavits must be submitted no later than January 10th of the following year. We encourage online submissions for faster processing.
  8. All photos or images associated with the program, including those submitted by anglers or taken by MassWildlife staff, become property of MassWildlife. Names of anglers and images may be used in agency publications, promotional materials, or for other non-commercial use.
  9. MassWildlife reserves the right to change or modify the program rules at any time. All decisions by MassWildlife are final.
measure the total length of the fish
Make sure to photograph the entire fish alongside a clearly visible measuring device.
Include a dorsal view image for catfish and bullhead entries.
Include a dorsal view image for catfish and bullhead entries.

Minimum Lengths


Length (inches)

Bowfin 26
Brook Trout 16
Brown Trout 22
Bullhead 15
Carp 31
Chain Pickerel 25
Channel Catfish 25
Crappie 14
Lake Trout 30
Landlocked Salmon 22
Largemouth Bass 21
Northern Pike 36
Rainbow Trout 20
Shad 22
Smallmouth Bass 20
Sunfish* 10
Tiger Muskellunge 34
Tiger Trout 16
Walleye 24
White Catfish 19
White Perch 14
Yellow Perch 14

* Includes Bluegill, Pumpkinseed, Redbreast Sunfish, Green Sunfish and Rock Bass

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