Catch & 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).

Additional Resources


  1. All legally licensed anglers are eligible for the Massachusetts Freshwater Sportfishing Awards.
  2. Anglers aged 17 or under are eligible for Youth Sportfishing Awards (see minimum lengths below).
  3. Fish must be taken from waters within the state of Massachusetts (or the interstate ponds listed in the Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Trapping) that are open to the public at all times. This rule does not apply to the Wachusett or Quabbin Reservoirs, or other public bodies of water which are closed on a seasonal basis.
  4. Fish taken from waters which are not open to the public at all times (such as private ponds or sporting club ponds) are NOT eligible for awards.
  5. Fish must be legally taken on hook and line.
  6. The fish must be measured at the site of capture, photographed against a standard measuring device, then immediately released. The photo must include the entire fish and the measurement must be clearly discernible.
  7. A clear, side view, close-up photograph of the fish must be included with all affidavits. In addition to a side view photo, all affidavits for catfish and bullheads must also include a full body, dorsal (back) view of the fish (see below for an example).
  8. Measurement will be maximum total length (see diagram below). All fish measurements will be rounded up to the nearest ¼ inch.
  9. It is the angler’s responsibility to provide MassWildlife with completed affidavits and required photos. Note: All affidavits must be postmarked no later than January 10th of the following year.
  10. All photographs or images associated with the program, including those submitted by anglers and those taken by agency personnel, become the property of the MassWildlife. Names of anglers, photographic or videographic images may be used in agency publications, promotional materials, or for other non-commercial uses.
  11. MassWildlife reserves the right to change or modify the program rules at any time. All decisions of MassWildlife are final.

measure fish

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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