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General Fishing Regulations & Advisories

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Permit required to take baitfish for purpose of sale; see Permits on page 12. Individuals trapping fish for personal use as baitfish may use only one trap. Individuals trapping baitfish under a commercial license may use more than one trap.

  • Frogs (except leopard frogs) 2½ inches or less snout to vent may be used as bait; 10 daily, 10 in possession; may not be sold.
  • Baitfish may be taken by licensed anglers at any time (except for purposes of sale) with 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. The following species may be taken for personal use as bait by licensed anglers. Only the fish species listed below may be used as bait, live or dead.
    • American eel
    • Banded killifish
    • Bluntnose minnow
    • Creek chubsucker
    • Emerald shiner
    • Fallfish
    • Fathead minnow
    • Golden shiner
    • Mummichog
    • Pumpkinseed
    • Rainbow smelt*
    • Yellow perch
    • Spottail shiner
    • 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.

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. 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.
  • Swift River: Winsor Dam to Rte. 9, catch-and-release FLY FISHING ONLY (year around); Rte. 9 to Cady Lane, catch-and-release July 1–Dec. 31 (artificials only).
  • Deerfield River: Fife Brook Dam to Hoosac Tunnel, and the section extending from Pelham Brook to the Mohawk Campground.
  • 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 dam in Athol and from Wendell Rd. bridge in Orange to the breached dam in Erving center.
  • Quashnet River: From the outlet of John’s Pond to the sign 0.1 mile below Rte. 28.

Fish Consumption Advisories

The MA Dept. of Public Health (MDPH), has issued a statewide advisory for pregnant women, nursing mothers, women who may become pregnant, and children under 12 not to consume fish caught in fresh water due to elevated levels of mercury in fish. MDPH has also issued fish consumption advisories for the general public on selected bodies of water primarily due to PCB and mercury contamination. For more information or a list of waters with fish consumption advisories, contact MDPH, Bureau of Environmental Health, at (617) 624-5757.

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.

Fishing Prohibitions

  • Explosives
  • Jug, toggle or trot line fishing.
  • Lead Sinkers at Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs: The use of lead fishing sinkers, including, but not limited to, split shot, bullet weights, egg sinkers, slip sinkers, bell sinkers, pinch sinkers, rubber grip sinkers, bank sinkers, pyramid sinkers, or twist, strap or wraparound sinkers for the taking of fish in the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs is prohibited. Lead fishing sinkers DO NOT include other lead fishing-related items such as artificial lures, jigs, lead-core line, down-rigger weights, keel sinkers, torpedo casting and trolling sinkers, or weighted flies.

NOTE: Lead fishing sinkers and jigs less than 1 ounce will be prohibited in all inland waters of the Commonwealth effective January 1, 2012.

  • More than two hooks for fishing or more than five hooks when ice fishing. A hook is defined as an angling device attached to a fishing line which is designed to take one fish at a time but is not limited to devices commonly called spinners, spoons, bait harnesses, lead head jigs or plugs.
  • 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.
  • Poisons
  • Releasing fish or spawn into inland waters, except by permit.
  • Rubbish in inland waters.
  • Sale of freshwater fish without a permit.
  • Snagging
  • Transporting live fish (except bait for personal use) without a permit.

Spears, Bow and Arrows

May be used to take suckers, carp and eels only. Fishing license required.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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