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Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations

Saltwater Marine Fishing Regulations Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing

Regulations listed below are subject to change during the 2021 season.

Species

Note

Min. Size

Open Periods

Possession Limits

American Eel

(1)

9″

All Year

25 fish

American Shad

(2)

Catch and release only, with exceptions.

Black Sea Bass

(3,7)

15″

May 18 – Sep 8

5 fish

Blue Marlin

Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.

Bluefish, Private Vessel & Shore

None

All Year

3 fish

Bluefish, For-Hire Vessels

None

All Year

5 fish

Cod

(North of Cape Cod)

(4,5)

21″

Sep 15 – Sep 30 &

Apr 1 – Apr 14

1 fish

Cod

(South & East of Cape Cod)

(4,5)

21″

All Year

10 fish

Dab (Plaice)

(4,5)

14″

All Year

No limit

Fluke (Summer Flounder)

17″

May 23 – Oct 9

5 fish

Gray Sole (Witch)

(4,5)

14″

All Year

No limit

Haddock
(North of Cape Cod)

(4,5)

17″

Apr 1 – Dec 31

15 fish

Halibut

(4,5)

41″

All Year

1 fish

Monkfish

(4,5)

None

All Year

No limit

Pollock

(4,5)

None

All Year

No limit

Redfish

(4,5)

None

All Year

No limit

River Herring

Harvest, possession, sale and use are prohibited.

Sailfish

Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.

Scup, Private Vessel & Shore

(7)

9″

All Year

30 fish

(150 fish/vessel maximum)

Scup, For-Hire Vessels

9″

Jan 1 – Apr 30

30 fish

May 1 – June 30

50 fish

July 1 – Dec 31

30 fish

Sharks
(excludes spiny dogfish)

See www.mass.gov/marinefisheries for current regulations.

Smelt

None

Jun 16 – Mar 14

50 fish

Spiny Dogfish

None

All year

No limit

Striped Bass

(6)

28″ – less than 35″

All year

1 fish

Tautog

(8)

16″

Apr 1 – May 31

3 fish

Jun 1 – Jul 31

1 fish

Aug 1 – Oct 14

3 fish

Oct 15 – Dec 31

5 fish

Tunas

Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.

Weakfish

16″

All year

1 fish

White Marlin

Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.

White Perch

8″

All year

25 fish

Windowpane Flounder

(4,5)

Prohibited

Winter Flounder

(North of Cape Cod)

(4,5)

12″

All year

8 fish

Winter Flounder

(South & East of Cape Cod)

(4,5)

12″

Mar 1 – Dec 31

2 fish

Wolffish

(4,5)

Prohibited

Yellowtail Flounder

(4,5)

13″

All year

No limit

Prohibitions

Snagging, snatching of anadromous fish: including shad, smelt, white perch, striped bass, trout, and salmon, but excluding alewives or blueback herring.

The taking of striped bass by any means other than hook-and-line.

To “high-grade” striped bass, i.e. the discard of dead, legal size striped bass.

To retain live striped bass in the water by attaching to a stringer or placing in a live well or holding car.

The taking of billfish using gear other than a rod and reel.

The taking of Atlantic salmon, sturgeon, all marine mammals, all sea turtles, and the diamond back terrapin from Massachusetts waters.

For anyone, except the owner, to handle, destroy, or molest any lobster or crab pot or other fishing gear, including any gear swept up on the shore, beaches or flats whether public or private, or to take fish there from.

To sell, barter, or exchange fish or shellfish without a commercial permit.

For any recreational fisherman to use any type of hook other than a circle hook when fishing for striped bass with bait: any marine or aquatic organism, live or dead, whole or parts thereof. This shall not apply to any artificial lure.

Notes:

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

2) American shad is a catch and release fishery, except for on the Merrimack and Connecticut Rivers where anglers may retain up to 3 fish per day, with no minimum size limit.

3) 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.

4) Federal rules apply beyond state waters. Consult NOAA Fisheries for permitting requirements and regulations.

5) 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.

6) 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.

7) 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.

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.

* Possession limits are per person per day unless otherwise noted.