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General Fishing Information

Hunting Regulations Icon Massachusetts Hunting & Fishing

Bait

It is unlawful to take baitfish for the purpose of sale from the inland waters of the Commonwealth. Individuals trapping fish for personal use as baitfish may use only one trap.

Baitfish may be taken by licensed anglers at any time for personal use by all lawful methods, including a rectangular net not exceeding 36 square feet of net area or by a hoop or circular net not exceeding 6 feet in diameter or with a fish trap with openings not exceeding one inch. Nets designed to gill fish are prohibited. Only the fish species listed below may be taken for personal use as bait, live or dead, by licensed anglers.

Banded Killifish

Fallfish

Fathead Minnow

Golden Shiner

Mummichog

Pumpkinseed

Rainbow Smelt*

Yellow Perch

White Sucker

* Smelt may be taken only by hook and line. Possession or use of smelt as bait in inland waters other than during the smelt season is prohibited.

Frogs (except leopard frogs) 2½ inches or less snout to vent may be taken by licensed anglers and used as bait; 10 daily, 10 in possession; may not be sold.

Herring: For regulations on herring contact the Division of Marine Fisheries, (617) 626-1520 or mass.gov/marinefisheries.

Ice Fishing

All anglers are allowed up to five hooks through the ice 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). Adults may assist minors with cutting holes or removing hooks, but minors must be capable of tending tip-ups or jig sticks on their own. See ice strength and safety tips.

Catch-and-Release Areas

Artificial lures only. No bait in possession.

Housatonic River: From the Rte. 20 bridge in Lee downstream to Willow Mill Dam AND from Glendale Dam downstream to the RR bridge in Great Barrington. No fishing from June 15—Aug. 31 inclusive within 100 feet of the mouths of posted tributaries: Beartown Brook; Goose Pond Brook; Hop Brook; and Mohawk Brook.

Red Brook: From the outlet of White Island Pond to the inlet of Buttermilk Bay.

Nissitissit River: From the New Hampshire border to the Prescott St. Bridge. FLY FISHING ONLY (year-round).

Swift River: Winsor Dam to Rte. 9, catch-and-release FLY FISHING ONLY (year-round). Rte. 9 to Cady Lane, catch-and-release, artificial lures only (July 1–Dec. 31); fish harvest and bait allowed (Jan. 1–June 30).

Deerfield River: Fife Brook Dam to Hoosac Tunnel, and the section extending from Pelham Brook to the Mohawk Campground.

Quashnet River: From the outlet of John’s Pond to the sign 0.1 mile below Rte. 28.

Westfield River, East Branch: Immediately below the Chesterfield Gorge parking lot in Chesterfield to the gate north of the Corps of Engineers parking lot at Knightville in Huntington.

Millers River: Templeton/Athol RR bridge to the first dam in Athol and from Wendell Rd. bridge in Orange to the breached dam in Erving center.

Fish Consumption Advisories

The Mass. Dept. of Public Health (MDPH) has issued a statewide advisory for pregnant women, nursing mothers, women who may become pregnant, and children under 12 to refrain from consuming fish caught in freshwater due to elevated levels of mercury in fish. MDPH has also issued fish consumption advisories for the general public on selected bodies of water. For more information or a list of waters with fish consumption advisories, contact MDPH, Bureau of Environmental Health, at (617) 624-5757 or mass.gov/dph.

Interstate Pond LICENSE REGULATIONS

Wallum Lake, Douglas: Fishing permitted by persons duly licensed in Massachusetts or Rhode Island. Rhode Island regulations apply.

Lake Monomonac and Robbins Pond, Winchendon; Long Pond, Tyngsboro and Dracut; Bent Pond, Warwick; Tuxbury Pond, Amesbury: Fishing permitted by persons duly licensed in Massachusetts or New Hampshire. New Hampshire regulations apply.

Colebrook Reservoir, Tolland; Perry Pond, Dudley; Muddy Pond, Southbridge; Breakneck Pond, Sturbridge; Congamond Lake, Southwick; Hamilton Reservoir, Holland: Fishing permitted by persons duly licensed in Massachusetts or Connecticut. Connecticut regulations apply to Colebrook Reservoir, Breakneck Pond, Perry Pond and Muddy Pond. Massachusetts regulations apply to Congamond Lake and Hamilton Reservoir.

Sherman Reservoir, Rowe: Massachusetts regulations apply and MA license required in MA. Vermont regulations apply and VT license required in VT.

  • More than two hooks for fishing open water or more than five hooks when ice fishing. A hook is defined as an angling device attached to a fishing line that is designed to take one fish at a time but is not limited to devices commonly called spinners, spoons, bait harnesses, jigs, or plugs.
  • The taking of any fish from the inland waters of the Commonwealth for the purposes of sale.
  • Lead Sinkers, Lead Weights, and Lead Jigs Weighing Less Than an Ounce. Any sinker or weight made from lead that weighs less than 1 ounce, and any lead jig (meaning any lead-weighted hook) that weighs less than 1 ounce, is prohibited for use in all inland waters of the Commonwealth. The term lead sinker shall not include any other sinkers, weights, fishing lures or fishing tackle including, but not limited to, artificial lures, hooks, weighted flies, and lead-core or other weighted fishing lines.
  • 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 the fish to the water.
  • Releasing fish or spawn into inland waters, except by permit.
  • Transporting live fish (except bait for personal use) without a permit.
  • Jug, toggle, or trot line fishing.
  • Snagging
  • Poisons, explosives
  • Littering in inland waters.