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Mass. Freshwater Fishing  Regulations
Massachusetts Freshwater Fishing Seasons, Fish Sizes and Creel Limits

Fishing Seasons

Species

Open season
(All Dates Inclusive)

Daily Creel

minimum Length1

TROUT 2

Lakes, ponds, major rivers 3, 5, 6

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

3

Housatonic River 4

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

1

20"

All other rivers and brooks

Apr. 1 – Sept. 10
Sept. 11 – Mar. 31, 2017

8
3

LAKE TROUT

Wachusett Reservoir 6

(see note 6)

3

Quabbin 6

(see note 6)

2

18"

SALMON (Landlocked)

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

2

15"

AMERICAN SHAD 7 (Connecticut and Merrimack rivers and their tributaries)

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

3

AMERICAN SHAD 7 (All other waters, catch and release only)

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

0

CHAIN PICKEREL

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

5

15"

BLACK BASS (Largemouth and Smallmouth, singly or combined):

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

5

12"

NORTHERN PIKE

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

1

28"

TIGER MUSKIE (Muskellunge)

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

1

28"

WALLEYE

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

5

14"

SMELT 8

Jan. 1 – Feb. 28
May 16 – Dec. 31

ALL OTHER FRESHWATER SPECIES

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

STRIPED BASS and HERRING: For season, size, and possession limits call the Division of Marine Fisheries at (617) 626-1520, or visit their website at www.mass.gov/marinefisheries.

POSSESSION OF: Sturgeon (all species), American Brook Lamprey, Atlantic (sea-run) Salmon, Bridle Shiner, Burbot, Eastern Silvery Minnow, Lake Chub, Longnose Sucker, and Northern Redbelly Dace is illegal! If caught, release immediately. This means remove hook or cut line and return fish to water immediately — do not pose for photographs, place on a stringer, hold in a net, or delay in any way the immediate return and release of these rare fish to the water!

  1. Minimum length is measured as the straight line (not curved over the body) from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail. The tips of any forked tail may be squeezed together for the final measurement.
  2. Trout applies to Brook, Brown, Rainbow, and Tiger Trout (a cross between a female Brown and a male Brook Trout). From Apr. 1 to Sept. 10, no more than 8 trout (as defined) may be taken daily, and only 3 of those trout may be from lakes, ponds, or major rivers3. From Sept. 11 to Mar. 31, no more than 3 trout (as defined) may be taken daily.
  3. Major Rivers: Childs, Coonamessett, Deerfield, Farmington, Green (Colrain), Green (Great Barrington), Ipswich, Jones, Mashpee, Millers, Nissitissit, North (Colrain), North (West Branch), Parker, Quaboag, Quinapoxet, Quinebaug, Seven Mile, Santuit, Scorton Creek, Shawsheen, Squannacook, Stillwater (Sterling, Princeton), Swift (East Branch), Swift (Winsor Dam to Ware River, except as posted), Tully (East and West Branches), Ware, Ware (East Branch), Westfield (all branches).
  4. Mainstem Housatonic only, from the confluence of the East and West Branches to the MA–CT line, exclusive of the catch-and-release areas where no trout may be kept.
  5. Special Brown Trout water: South Pond (Quacumquasit), Brookfield. Total daily creel is 3 trout but only 1 may be a Brown Trout and it must be at least 15".
  6. Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs: Opening and closing dates are set by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. For Quabbin Reservoir visitwww.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-central/quabbin-reservoir.html or call (413) 323-7221. For Wachusett / Sudbury Reservoirs visitwww.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/water-res-protection/watershed-mgmt/wachusett-and-sudbury-reservoir-fishing-guide.html or call (508) 792-7806. Quabbin Reservoir and its tributary streams within the Quabbin Reservation are closed to all fishing except during the open season as set by the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The Wachusett/Sudbury/West Waushacum fishing season normally opens the first Saturday in April and closes Nov. 30, but the DCR/DWSP may alter those dates depending on ice conditions. At Wachusett Reservoir, shoreline fishing only is allowed from Gate 6 on Route 70 to Gate 36 on Route 110.
  7. American Shad are Catch-and-Release ONLY on all waters except the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers and their tributaries.
  8. Smelt may be taken by hook and line only.

ICE FISHING

Anglers are allowed up to five hooks in the water at one time. A hook is defined as an angling device attached to the line of a tip-up or jig stick that is designed to take one fish at a time. This includes plain hooks, treble hooks, spinners, spoons, bait harnesses, jigs, or plugs. The device in question is not restricted to a single hook – lures with multiple treble hooks count as one hook in the water. Hooks can be on any combination of tip-ups or jig sticks, but no more than five hooks total.

All anglers must be able to tend their own hooks (tip-ups or jig sticks). Minors under 15 years old may have up to five hooks in the water. Adults may assist with cutting holes or removing hooks, but minors must be capable of tending tip-ups or jig sticks on their own.

 

REPTILES AND AMPHIBIANS

Species

Open season

Daily bag limit

Possession Limit

Size Limit

FOR PERSONAL USE

Bullfrog, Green Frog

July 16 – Sept. 30

12

24

none

Snapping Turtle

Jan. 1 – Apr. 30 
July 17 – Dec 31

2

2

12 in.*

For Bait

Bullfrog, Green Frog, Wood Frog

No closed season

10

10

less than 
2½ in.**

Fishing license required. Bullfrogs, green frogs, wood frogs, and pickerel frogs may be taken by hand or by hand-held dip net. Snapping turtles may be taken by hand, hand-held dip net, or gaff.

*Straight line carapace (shell) length

**Snout to vent length


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