Massachusetts Hunting & Fishing
Catch and Release Anglers:
Tips for Minimizing Fish Stress
- If using bait, the use of circle hooks dramatically reduces the likelihood of gut-hooking a fish.
- Be attentive and set the hook immediately to prevent the fish from swallowing the hook (setting the hook is not necessary with circle hooks).
- Reduce the fight time. The longer the fish fights, the higher the stress level for the fish. This is particularly important when fishing for trout in periods of warmer water temperatures. If it takes you a long time to land a fish, your drag may be set too loosely or your gear may be too light for the fish you are catching.
- Use a fine-mesh landing net to reduce the amount of time required to land a fish.
- If the hook is swallowed, do not forcefully remove it. Cut the line as close to the mouth as possible and then release the fish.
- Wet your hands before touching the fish so you don’t damage the protective mucous layer on the outside of the fish.
- Don’t use the gills or eyes as a handhold. Support the belly of larger fish. Bass can be safely handled by holding the lower jaw, thumb in the mouth and forefinger under the chin.
- Quickly return fish to the water. Revive a fatigued fish by supporting it in a swimming position in the water; gently move it back and forth until it can swim off.
Improved Trout Stocking Report Provides More Options for Anglers
Massachusetts anglers can go to mass.gov/trout to view a list or a map displaying trout stocking information, which is updated daily during the stocking seasons!
Anglers seeking stocking reports for a particular water body or town should use the table to locate information. Type the name of the water body or town into the search window to find all stocking reports for that location. The table also allows users to sort by town, water body, stocking date, type of fish, or district. Note: All districts are now displayed on the same table.
The new map component of the stocking report allows users to zoom and pan to regions of the state and discover new destinations for fishing. The default map view shows the entire state, zoom to the area you would like to explore and then click on any thumbtack icon to view the dates and types of fish that have been stocked at that location. Stocking locations on streams are accurate, but fish swim, so be sure to investigate other reaches of the stream as well.
Don’t forget your fishing license – available online at mass.gov/massfishhunt at MassWildlife offices, or at license vendors. The stocking report is still subject to change depending on staffing, equipment, and weather conditions.
FRESHWATER SPORTFISHING AWARDS
Catch and Release Anglers: Remember to take a picture before releasing the fish at the site of capture. This photograph shows the proper method for measuring and photographing a Catch and Release awards entry.
MassWildlife has provided maps of popular waterbodies to anglers and boaters since the 1950s. These maps contain information regarding stocking, public access, resident fish species, and a bathymetric (depth) map. Bathymetric maps are extremely useful to anglers, as different fish species often associate with specific underwater features. For example, bass prefer steep drop-offs and submerged plateaus, while trout occupy deeper, colder water.
Recently, MassWildlife began updating these bathymetric maps using new technology that renders underwater terrain with 100x the precision as the original maps. These new, more detailed maps allow anglers to focus their efforts within the habitats they choose with unparelled accuracy. Anglers who ice fish or fish from shore will find these maps particularly valuable as personal depth finders are not applicable.
Anglers can find pond maps at mass.gov/dfw/pond-maps.