Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing
Getting Back to Normal
Fishing has always been a popular pastime, but in 2020 we saw a surge in interest because of the pandemic. DMF saw an increase in resident saltwater fishing permit sales of about 20%. Many anglers rediscovered great local fishing. Fishing is a lot of fun, can produce amazing fresh nutrition, and is by nature a “socially distanced” form of recreation. Tackle shops saw many product lines sold out, and boat dealers saw unprecedented sales. More people stayed close to home and rediscovered the pursuit of our prized species such as striped bass, bluefish, sea bass, scup, and more. However for-hire fishing businesses, including party and charter boats, who often accommodate tourist anglers, suffered greatly this past year due to the pandemic’s travel and vessel capacity limitations. Those captains are ready in 2021 to take their customers once again to productive fishing grounds for some excellent fishing.
On the resource side, striped bass anglers all along the east coast are now using circle hooks to minimize the inadvertent mortality to released stripers. The response to this new rule has been very positive as so many anglers want to see their sport fishing sustained. Another encouraging sign is the abundance of menhaden (AKA “pogies”) that have been seen in large and recurring schools throughout state waters, especially north of Cape Cod. These filter-feeding fish, rich in oil and calories, are the preferred prey of so many predator fish. Follow the bait and you will find the fish…and the sea birds, the ospreys, and marine mammals such as humpback whales. Speaking of whales, DMF and the MA Environmental Police can use your help to report any sightings of any entangled or stranded marine mammals or turtles. You can find the list of contacts in this guide.
On shore, DMF is proud to open its newest fishing pier at Deer Island in Boston this year. This amazing fishing structure was erected on MA Water Resources Authority property and was a cooperative project with the Authority. This is another in the growing list of DMF-funded access projects that are supported with the dedicated saltwater fishing permit revenues. DMF is working diligently with its partners including the Office of Fishing and Boating Access to improve the ability of anglers to reach the water.
Don’t forget to enter the Saltwater Derby for 2021. We are hoping to be able to reconvene next winter with all the 2021 winners for an in-person trophy ceremony. We are all looking forward to more in-person meetings and gatherings with the fishing public soon. Getting back to normal will eventually mean gathering in larger groups again for the things we all love to do: the backyard cookout, Red Sox games, th e 4th of July and enjoying one another’s company. This past year has reminded us how rewarding fishing can be with friends and family, so go fishing! Fish from shore, fish from one of the DMF piers, or fish on a charter or party boat where the captains’ skill and knowledge can practically guarantee success.