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Whether you’re an angler who prefers hanging out by the pond, dropping your line from a boat, or casting off into the ocean, Massachusetts has plenty of fishing holes where you can reel in a prize catch. But before you grab your tackle, make sure you know the rules in order to enjoy this popular pastime in the Commonwealth.

Check out the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) and the Division of Marine Fisheries (MarineFisheries) for information to help you make the most of your fishing adventure.

Fishing Licenses and Permits

Almost all anglers need a license to fish, whether they are planning a day at a pond or on the ocean. There are a number of recreational fishing license types and fees, and you can buy a license online from MassFishHunt or at a license agent. Saltwater permits also are available over the phone at (866) 703-1925.

  • Freshwater — License fees range from free to $37.50, depending on your age, disability status, and residency. There is a $1.50 service fee for any license bought online or at a vendor. There’s also a 3 percent handling fee for online transactions. There are no fees if you purchase at a MarineFisheries or MassWildlife district office.
  • Saltwater — You can get a recreational saltwater fishing permit for free or by paying $10, depending on your age and residency. There’s a $1.68 service fee for permits bought online. Residents of Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island can use their home state’s saltwater permit in Massachusetts waters. Likewise, Massachusetts residents can use their permits in those states. Regardless of your age, if you meet the definition of a person with disabilities, you don’t need a permit to fish coastal waters.

Angling Regulations

MarineFisheries’ recreational regulations explain size and bag limits for many saltwater fish. If you’re heading to your local river, stream, or pond, you should keep in mind general fishing regulations and advisories, including species that must be released immediately if caught.

In general, you can freshwater fish in Massachusetts year-round, though catch limits vary depending on species and season. Check the 2016 freshwater fishing season schedule for more details. The recreational saltwater fishing regulations provide a more varied schedule for the year.

Freshwater Fishing

Freshwater Fishing License Fees - Text Version Available at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/licensing/license-types-and-fees.html

MassWildlife has plenty of freshwater fishing information to help you find the perfect spot to cast a line. You can:

Trout Fishing

Special rules apply to trout fishing in Massachusetts. The trout stocking schedule kicks off in the spring and runs through Memorial Day. A short two-week stocking also happens before Columbus Day. An online trout stocking report showing the Commonwealth’s trout stocked waters is updated daily. You can search the report by town, stocking date, trout species, waterbody or district. You can also take part in the Tags ’N Trout Program, which awards a prize from a local sponsor to anyone who catches a trout with a colored tag. Businesses and other groups that want to participate should contact MassWildlife. You can check the 2016 freshwater fishing season schedule for more details on trout fishing.

Saltwater Fishing

Saltwater Fishing Permit Fees - Text Version Available at http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/licensing/license-types-and-fees.html

With more than 1,500 miles of coastline, Massachusetts sets the scene for great fishing experiences. Just bring a rod, reel, and some bait to the state’s waterfront. If you’re looking to take to the water, it’s a good idea to check out boat ramp locations or head boat locations, where you can find vessels offering fishing excursions. When planning a trip, check out MarineFisheries’ species profiles to get a better idea of what’s waiting to be caught.

Responsible Fishing

In order to fish responsibly, you should:

Fish Consumption

Many anglers spend their trips casting a line just for the fun of it. But if you want to bring your catch home for dinner, you should be aware of consumption advisories. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has several fish consumption resources to help you:

Whether you’re a pro or a novice, nothing beats the thrill of landing a big fish. So get a license, grab your tackle and head to the nearest fishing spot for a fun-filled day the whole family can enjoy.

What is your favorite fishing spot in Massachusetts? Comment below or tweet us @MassGov.

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