Get ready to go freshwater fishing

Planning a fishing trip? Find out what you should bring and what kind of freshwater fish you might catch.

What could be more peaceful than an afternoon at a local pond, fishing rod in hand? If you’re an aspiring angler, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) has information on what fishing equipment you’ll need to get started, and the types of fish you’ll find in Massachusetts waters.

If you’re 15 or older, you need to bring your freshwater fishing license with you. Planning on taking your kids on their first fishing trip? Then you won’t need a license unless you plan to cast or reel a line for them.

Where to go

Look for a place to fish that's close to home. Then, choose an open spot without overhanging trees or too much submerged vegetation. The following resources will help you get started picking a spot:

What to bring

If you’re a first-time angler, you don’t need tons of fancy equipment. MassWildlife suggests that you take:

  • A simple push button spin casting setup
  • Some hooks and bobbers
  • Bait
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
  • Mealworms
  • Small, dense pieces of food like cheese, chicken, hot dogs, or bread
  • Artificial pellet or paste bait

Note: If you want to go fishing in a catch and release area, you can’t use live 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. Warm water fish like sunfish are more active during this time, and easier to catch. Check the Massachusetts Hunting and Freshwater Fishing Guide to find out if there are season, size limits, or catch (creel) limits.

Looking for other opportunities to reel in more fish? Check the trout stocking report. MassWildlife adds trout to certain spots during the spring and fall to increase opportunities to test your fishing skills.

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