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Massachusetts

Saltwater Fishing

Saltwater Fishing

Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations

Regulations listed below are subject to change during the 2023 season.

Species

Size Limit

Season

Possession Limit

American eel (1)

Min: 9"

Year Round

25 fish

American Shad

(Merrimack and Connecticut Rivers)

N/A

Year Round

3 fish

American Shad

(Other Waters)

N/A

Year Round

Prohibited.

Catch and release only.

Black Sea Bass* (2,6)

TBD

TBD

TBD

Bluefish

N/A

Year Round

3 fish (shore & private)

5 fish (for-hire)

Cod* (3,4)

(Gulf of Maine)

Min: 22"

Jan 1 - Mar 31

Prohibited

Apr 1 - Apr 14

1 fish

Apr 15 - Apr 30

Prohibited

May 1 - Dec 31

TBD

Cod (3,4)

(Southern New England)

Min: 22"

Max: 28"

Jan 1 - Apr 30

5 fish

May 1 - Jul 31

Prohibited

Aug 1 - Dec 31

5 fish

Dab (plaice) (3,4)

Min: 14"

Year Round

No Limit

Grey Sole (3,4)

Min: 14"

Year Round

No Limit

Haddock* (3,4)

(Gulf of Maine)

Min: 17"

Jan 1 - Feb 28

20 fish

Mar 1 - Mar 31

Prohibited

Apr 1 - Apr 30

20 fish

May 1 - Dec 31

TBD

Haddock (3)

(Southern New England)

Min: 18"

Year Round

No Limit

Halibut (3,4)

Min: 41"

Year Round

1 fish

Mackerel (5)

N/A

Year Round

20 fish

Monkfish (3,4)

N/A

Year Round

No Limit

Ocean Pout (3,4)

N/A

Closed

Prohibited

Pollock (3,4)

N/A

Year Round

No Limit

Redfish (3,4)

N/A

Year Round

No Limit

River Herring

N/A

Closed

Prohibited

Scup* (6)

Min: 10"

Jan 1 - Apr 30

30 fish

May 1 - Dec 31

TBD

Smelt

N/A

Jan 1 - Mar 14

50 fish

Mar 15 - Jun 15

Prohibited

Jun 16 - Dec 31

50 fish

Summer Flounder (Fluke)

Min: 16.5"

Jan 1 - May 20

Prohibited

May 21 - Sep 29

5 fish

Sep 30 - Dec 31

Prohibited

Spiny Dogfish

N/A

Year Round

No Limit

Striped Bass (7)

28" to less than 35"

Year Round

1 fish

Tautog (8)

Min: 16"

Only one fish may exceed 21"

Jan 1 - Mar 31

Prohibited

Apr 1 - May 31

3 fish

Jun 1 - Jul 31

1 fish

Aug 1 - Oct 14

3 fish

Oct 15 - Dec 31

5 fish

Weakfish

Min: 16"

Year Round

1 fish

White Perch

Min: 8"

Year Round

25 fish

Windowpane Flounder

N/A

Closed

Prohibited

Winter Flounder

(Gulf of Maine)

Min: 12"

Year Round

8 fish

Winter Flounder

(Southern New England)

Min: 12"

Jan 1 - Feb 28

2 fish

Mar 1 - Dec 31

Wolffish

N/A

Closed

Prohibited

Yellowtail Flounder

Min: 13"

Year Round

No Limit

Notes:

* Regulatory limits may be subject to change for May 1, 2023

Gulf of Maine refers to all waters north of Cape Cod, including Cape Cod Bay, and those waters east of Cape Cod that are north of 42°00'N latitude.

Southern New England refers to all waters south and west of Cape Cod, including Nantucket Sound, Vineyard Sound, Buzzards Bay and Mount Hope Bay, and all waters east of Cape Cod that are south of 42°00'N latitude including Nauset Harbor and Pleasant Bay.

Tunas, billfish, and swordfish are managed by NOAA's Highly Migratory Species Office. Please consult NOAA Fisheries for permitting requirements and regulations.

1) Subject to regulation by the Division and the municipality. Please consult municipal regulations.

2) 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.

3) Federal rules apply beyond state waters. Consult NOAA Fisheries for regulations.

4) 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. See maps in 322 CMR 8.07 for more details.

5) The mackerel limit applies as a daily per angler harvest limit and a per angler possession limit while fishing. It does not apply to holding mackerel in a freezer, fish car, holding car, or shore-based bait well.

6) 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.

7) Striped bass are measured from the tip of the snout or jaw (mouth closed) to the farthest extremity of the tail. The discard of dead legal sized striped bass is unlawful. The practice of high-grading, whereby legal sized striped bass are released in favor of larger fish caught subsequently is unlawful. Accordingly, it is also unlawful to keep a striped bass alive in water by attaching a line or chain to the fish (stringer), or placing it in a live well or holding car. 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. All recreational anglers are required to use inline circle hooks when fishing for striped bass with whole or cut natural baits, except when fishing with a natural bait attached to an artificial lure (e.g., tube and worm). The use of non-lethal devices to remove striped bass from the water is required; gaffing striped bass is prohibited.

8) When the tautog fishery is open, private anglers are subject to 10-fish maximum tautog limit for the vessel. The most restrictive limit of the per angler bag limit or per vessel maximum limit applies. During any open season an angler may retain, possess, and land one trophy fish exceeding the 21" maximum size per calendar day.