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Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations

Regulations listed below are subject to change during the 2016 season.

Species

Note

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)

15"

May 21 – August 31

5 fish

Blue Marlin

Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.

Bluefish

None

All Year

10 fish

Cod (North of Cape Cod)

(4,5)

Private

19"

January 1 – December 31

1 fish

For Hire

24"

August 1 – September 30

1 fish

Cod
(South & East of Cape Cod)

(4,5)

22"

All Year

10 fish

Dab (Plaice)

(4,5)

14"

All Year

None

Fluke

16"

May 22 – September 23

5 fish

Gray Sole (Witch)

(4,5)

14"

All Year

None

Haddock

(North of Cape Cod)

(4,5)

17"

January 1 – April 30

3 fish

17"

May 1 – December 31

15 fish

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)

Private

10"

May 1 – December 31

30 fish or 150 fish/vessel if 5 or more anglers are aboard

For-Hire Bonus

10"

May 1 – June 30

45 fish

For-Hire Regular

10"

July 1 – December 31

30 fish

Sharks
(excludes spiny dogfish)

See www.mass.gov/marinefisheries 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

Prohibitions

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.

Notes:

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.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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