Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing Regulations

Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing Regulations

Regulations listed below are subject to change during the 2016 season.

Minimum Lengths, Seasons and creel limits

SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

River Herring

Harvest, possession, sale and use are prohibited.
Blue back river herring
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

American Eel(1)

All Year 25 Per Angler 9 Inches
American eel
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

American Shad(2)

All Year CLOSED WITH EXCEPTIONS No Limit
American Shad
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Cod (North of Cape Cod)(4,5)

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31 1 Fish Private – 19 Inches
Aug. 1 – Sept. 30 1 Fish For Hire – 24 Inches
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Cod (South and East of Cape Cod)(4,5)

All Year 10 Fish 22 Inches
Atlantic Cod
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Black Sea Bass(3,7)

May 21 – August 31 5 Fish 15 Inches
Black Sea Bass
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Blue Crab

May 1 – Dec. 30 25 Crabs 5 Inches
Blue Crab
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Bluefish

(including “snappers”)

All Year 10 No Size Limit
 Bluefish
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Haddock (North of Cape Cod)(4,5)

Jan. 1 – April 30 3 Fish 17 Inches
May 1 – Dec. 31 15 Fish 17 Inches
 Haddock
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Blue Marlin

Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Dab (Plaice)(4,5)

All Year No Limit 14 Inches
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Pollock(4,5)

All Year No Limit No Size Limit
 Pollock
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Scup(7)

May 1 – Dec. 31 30 Fish or 150 fish/vessel if 5 or more anglers are aboard Private – 10 Inches
May 1 – June 30 45 Fish For-Hire Bonus – 10 Inches
July 1 – Dec. 31 30 Fish For-Hire Regular – 10 Inches
scup(porgy)
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Striped Bass(6)

All Year 1 Fish 28 Inches
Striped Bass
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Summer Flounder (Fluke)

May 22 – Sept. 23 5 Fish 16 Inches
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Tautog

All Year 3 Fish 16 Inches
blackfish (tautog)
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Weakfish

All Year 1 16 Inches
 Weakfish (sea trout)
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

White Perch

All Year 25 8 Inches
 White perch
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Winter Flounder (North of Cape Cod)(4,5)

All Year 8 Fish 12 Inches
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Winter Flounder (South and East of Cape Cod)(4,5)

March 1 – Dec. 31 2 Fish 12 Inches
 Winter Flounder
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Gray Sole (Witch)(4,5)

All Year No Limit 14 Inches
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Halibut(4,5)

All Year 1 Fish 41 Inches
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Monkfish(4,5)

All Year No Limit No Size Limit
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Redfish(4,5)

All Year No Limit No Size Limit
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Sailfish

Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Sharks (excludes spiny dogfish)

SEE TABLE BELOW
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Smelt

June 16 – March 14 50 Fish No Size Limit
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Spiny Dogfish

All Year No Limit No Size Limit
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Tunas

Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

White Marlin

Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Windowpane Flounder(4,5)

Prohibited
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Wolffish(4,5)

Prohibited
SPECIES OPEN SEASON DAILY LIMIT MINIMUM SIZE

Yellowtail Flounder(4,5)

All Year No Limit 13 Inches

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.

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.


Recreational Shark Regulations

Species Minimum Size Possession Limit
All Permitted Sharks (exceptions listed below) 54 in. 1 total per trip
Atlantic Sharpnose Shark No minimum size included in total shark bag limit + 1 additional
Bonnethead Shark No minimum size included in total shark bag limit + 1 additional
Smooth Dogfish No minimum size included in total shark bag limit + 1 additional
Blacknose Shark No minimum size included in total shark bag limit
Finetooth Shark No minimum size included in total shark bag limit
Hammerhead Shark 78 in. included in total shark bag limit

Permitted Species
The following species are allowed to be harvested:
Smooth Dogfish, Atlantic sharpnose, Bonnethead, Finetooth, Blacknose, Tiger, Blacktip, Spinner, Bull, Lemon, Nurse, Scalloped hammerhead, Great hammerhead, Smooth hammerhead, Shortfin mako, Porbeagle, Common thresher, Oceanic whitetip, Blue

Prohibited Species
The following species are prohibited from harvest:
Silky, Sandbar, Sand tiger, Bigeye sand tiger, Whale, Basking, White, Dusky, Bignose, Galapagos, Night, Caribbean reef, Narrowtooth, Caribbean sharpnose, Smalltail, Atlantic angel, Longfin mako, Bigeye thresher, Sharpnose sevengill, Bluntnose sixgill, Bigeye sixgill


Recreational Shellfish Regulations

Species Minimum Size Other Restrictions
Bay Scallop well defined growth ring Closed April 01–October 01
consult town regulations
Conch 3 in. shell width consult town regulations
Oyster 3 in. shell diameter consult town regulations
Quahog 1 in. shell thickness consult town regulations
Sea Scallop 3 1/2 in. shell diameter daily limit of 1 bushel in shell, or 4 quarts of shucked meats
Softshell Clam 2 in. shell diameter consult town regulations
Surf Clam 5 in. shell diameter consult town regulations

Recreational Lobster Regulations

Gulf of Maine Recreational Lobster Area
Minimum Size 3 1/4 in.
Maximum Size 5 in.
V-Notched Females: Definition Illegal to possess any female lobster that bears a notch or indentation in the base of the flipper that is at least as deep as 1/8 in. with or without setal hairs
Trap Limit 10 Traps
Escape Vent One rectangular vent 1 15/16 in. × 5 3/4 in. or two circular vents of 2 7/16 in. in diameter
Bag Limit 15 lobsters per day
Outer Cape Cod Recreational Lobster Area
Minimum Size 3 3/8 in.
Maximum Size None
V-Notched Females: Definition Illegal to possess any female lobster that bears a notch or indentation in the base of the flipper that is at least as deep as 1/8 in. with or without setal hairs
Trap Limit 10 Traps
Escape Vent One rectangular vent 2 in. × 5 3/4 in. or two circular vents of 2 5/8 in. in diameter
Bag Limit 15 lobsters per day
Southern New England Recreational Lobster Area
Minimum Size 3 3/8 in.
Maximum Size 5 1/4 in.
V-Notched Females – Definition Illegal to possess any female lobster that bears a notch or indentation in the base of the flipper that is at least as deep as 1/8 in. with or without setal hairs
Trap Limit 10 Traps
Escape Vent One rectangular vent 2 in.× 5 3/4 in. or two circular vents of 2 5/8 in. in diameter
Bag Limit 15 lobsters per day

Taking Lobster at Night is Prohibited

Lobster may only be harvested from 12 hour before sunrise to 12 hour after sunset.

Egg-Bearing Females

It is unlawful to possess or land any lobster:

  1. that is egg-bearing,
  2. from which eggs have been removed, or
  3. that has come in contact with any substance capable of removing lobster eggs.

Recreational Crab Regulations

Species Blue Crab Other Edible Crabs (excludes Green Crabs)
Minimum Size 5 in. shell width (spine to spine) None
Other Regulations Egg-bearers cannot be taken; 25 crabs/day; no permit required unless using traps or SCUBA; closed season is January 01–April 30, inclusive 50 crabs total per day (including up to 25 blue)—other regulations are the same as for blue crab

*In order to harvest green crabs you must obtain a Letter of Authorization (LOA) from the Division. Please contact Kerry Allard for an LOA or more information at (617) 626-1633 or kerry.allard@state.ma.us).

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