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Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing

Regulations listed below are subject to change during the 2017 season.



Min. Size

Open Periods

Possession Limits

American Eel (1) 9″ All Year 25 fish
American Shad (2) None All Year Closed with exceptions
Black Sea Bass (3,7) See for current regulations.
Blue Marlin Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.
Bluefish None All Year 10 fish
Cod (North of Cape Cod) (4,5) See for current regulations.
(South & East of Cape Cod)
(4,5) 22″ All Year 10 fish
Dab (Plaice) (4,5) 14″ All Year None
Fluke (Summer Flounder) See for current regulations.
Gray Sole (Witch) (4,5) 14 All Year None

(North of Cape Cod)

(4,5) See for current regulations.
Halibut (4,5) 41″ All Year 1 fish
Monkfish (4,5) None All Year None
Pollock (4,5) None All Year None
Redfish (4,5) None All Year None
River Herring Harvest, possession, sale and use are prohibited.
Sailfish Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.
Scup (7) See for current regulations

(excludes spiny dogfish)

See for current regulations.
Smelt None June 16 – March 14 50 fish
Spiny Dogfish None All year None
Striped Bass (6) 28″ All year 1 fish
Tautog 16″ All year 3 fish
Tunas Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.
Weakfish 16″ All year 1 fish
White Marlin Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.
White Perch 8″ All year 25 fish
Windowpane Flounder (4,5) Prohibited
Winter Flounder

(North of Cape Cod)

(4,5) 12″ All year 8 fish
Winter Flounder

(South & East of Cape Cod)

(4,5) 12 March 1 – December 31 2 fish
Wolffish (4,5) Prohibited
Yellowtail Flounder (4,5) 13″ All year None


Snagging, snatching of anadromous fish: including shad, smelt, white perch, striped bass, trout, and salmon, but excluding alewives or blueback herring.

The taking of striped bass by any means other than hook and line.

To “high-grade” striped bass, i.e. the discard of dead, legal size striped bass.

To retain live striped bass in the water by attaching to a stringer or placing in a live well or holding car.

The taking of billfish using gear other than a rod and reel.

The taking of Atlantic salmon, sturgeon, all marine mammals, all sea turtles, and the diamond back terrapin from Massachusetts waters.

For anyone, except the owner, to handle, destroy, or molest any lobster or crab pot or other fishing gear, including any gear swept up on the shore, beaches or flats whether public or private, or to take fish there from.

To sell, barter, or exchange fish or shellfish without a commercial permit.


1) Subject to regulation by the Division and the municipality. Please consult municipal regulations.

2) American shad is a catch and release fishery, except for on the Merrimack and Connecticut Rivers where anglers may retain up to 3 fish per day.

3) Black sea bass are measured from the tip of the snout or jaw (mouth closed) to the farthest extremity of the tail, not including the tail filament.

4) Federal rules apply beyond state waters. Consult NOAA Fisheries for permitting requirements and regulations.

5) It is unlawful to fish with hook and line gear in the Winter Cod Conservation Closure from November 15 through January 31. It is unlawful to take cod from the Spring Cod Conservation Closure from April 16 through July 21.

6) Striped bass must be kept whole, meaning the head, tail, and body remain intact. Only evisceration is allowed. Permitted for-hire vessels may fillet striped bass for their customers.

7) Black sea bass and scup may be filleted but not skinned while at-sea. No more than two fillets per allowed fish may be possessed.