Welcome Letter

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing

Be a Responsible and Informed Angler

As we enter a new decade, we should recognize, and rise to, the conservation challenges we face as a recreational fishing community. Massachusetts has some of the best recreational fishing in the country with some species at all-time highs (haddock, black sea bass, and scup), some in need of some additional conservation (striped bass and bluefish), and one (cod) that needs all the help it can get.

There are so many ways for anglers to fish with conservation in mind while not losing any part of the enjoyment of saltwater fishing. Information available to the recreational fishing community can come in so many forms and from so many different places (both in print and electronically) to help make good decisions like: when and where to go, what tackle to use, and ways to enhance survival of released fish. Fishing magazines, fishing clubs and government agencies are providing more information to anglers than ever before.

Things to be mindful about when you are on the water:

Avoid catching fish out of season. Know the regulations for each species you are trying to or might catch while fishing. This year DMF is publishing a “Haddock Fishing Guide” to assist anglers to locate places where haddock are abundant and cod less so. This is a ground-breaking effort to help anglers avoid the depleted cod stocks in the Gulf of Maine. Recovering the sacred cod is our generation’s biggest conservation challenge. Target the fish you intend to catch and avoid those you don’t.

Abide by the conservation rules. Two iconic species need more conservation over the next few years to recover to previous abundance. Striped bass will be managed with a first-ever slot limit of 28”to less than 35”. Now when you catch a striper 35” or greater, snap a quick picture and release as quickly as possible. Bluefish will see much reduced bag limits this year.

Release any fish you won’t use. Keep only what you know you and your family can and will eat. Better to let that fish swim, spawn, and maybe be caught another day than be a freezer-burned fillet that gets tossed out.

Improve your release methods. DMF has been promoting circle hooks for years and now they are becoming mandatory for some species. Use a net, or a lip-grip device instead of a gaff and do all you can to maximize survival.

Report Poachers. Be the eyes on the water and assist the Environmental Police to do their job. Law enforcement officers are way more effective when reacting to reliable reports.

Cooperate with recreational survey samplers. If a DMF representative asks to interview you, please cooperate. Accurate catch data results in quality fisheries management. Non-cooperation with interviewers only increases the variability of the catch estimates and can result in regulations not based on reality.

Treat your keeper with the respect it deserves and become a better chef. Chill your catch with a slurry of ice and saltwater and prepare it as best you can. Clean the fish as soon as possible. Take seafood in your life to the next level. Celebrate your catch as a meal with friends and family.

Have a great fishing year in 2020. We’re all in this together.

Your Permit Dollars at Work

Public Access

  • Develops and maintains three large fishing piers
  • Funds small projects improving or repairing existing access sites
  • Funds the deployment of dedicated recreational artificial reefs

Angler Education

  • Provides free clinics for young anglers
  • Develops online resources for classroom educators

Improved Recreational Catch Data

  • Increases the sample size for the Marine Recreational Information Program’s Access Point Angler Intercept Survey

Research and Conservation

  • River herring population management and restoration work
  • Striped bass migratory patterns and genetics

For more information see our website www.mass.gov/marinefisheries