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

SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

River Herring

Harvest, possession, sale and use are prohibited.
Blue back river herring
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

American Eel(1)

All Year25 Per Angler9 Inches
American eel
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

American Shad(2)

All YearCLOSED WITH EXCEPTIONSNo Limit
American Shad
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

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

Jan. 1 – Dec. 311 FishPrivate – 19 Inches
Aug. 1 – Sept. 301 FishFor Hire – 24 Inches
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

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

All Year10 Fish22 Inches
Atlantic Cod
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Black Sea Bass(3,7)

May 21 – August 315 Fish15 Inches
Black Sea Bass
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Blue Crab

May 1 – Dec. 3025 Crabs5 Inches
Blue Crab
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Bluefish

(including “snappers”)

All Year10No Size Limit
 Bluefish
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

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

Jan. 1 – April 303 Fish17 Inches
May 1 – Dec. 3115 Fish17 Inches
 Haddock
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Blue Marlin

Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Dab (Plaice)(4,5)

All YearNo Limit14 Inches
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Pollock(4,5)

All YearNo LimitNo Size Limit
 Pollock
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Scup(7)

May 1 – Dec. 3130 Fish or 150 fish/vessel if 5 or more anglers are aboardPrivate – 10 Inches
May 1 – June 3045 FishFor-Hire Bonus – 10 Inches
July 1 – Dec. 3130 FishFor-Hire Regular – 10 Inches
scup(porgy)
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Striped Bass(6)

All Year1 Fish28 Inches
Striped Bass
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Summer Flounder (Fluke)

May 22 – Sept. 235 Fish16 Inches
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Tautog

All Year3 Fish16 Inches
blackfish (tautog)
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Weakfish

All Year116 Inches
 Weakfish (sea trout)
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

White Perch

All Year258 Inches
 White perch
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

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

All Year8 Fish12 Inches
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

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

March 1 – Dec. 312 Fish12 Inches
 Winter Flounder
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Gray Sole (Witch)(4,5)

All YearNo Limit14 Inches
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Halibut(4,5)

All Year1 Fish41 Inches
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Monkfish(4,5)

All YearNo LimitNo Size Limit
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Redfish(4,5)

All YearNo LimitNo Size Limit
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Sailfish

Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Sharks (excludes spiny dogfish)

SEE TABLE BELOW
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Smelt

June 16 – March 1450 FishNo Size Limit
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Spiny Dogfish

All YearNo LimitNo Size Limit
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Tunas

Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

White Marlin

Federal rules apply. Consult NOAA Fisheries.
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Windowpane Flounder(4,5)

Prohibited
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Wolffish(4,5)

Prohibited
SPECIESOPEN SEASONDAILY LIMITMINIMUM SIZE

Yellowtail Flounder(4,5)

All YearNo Limit13 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

SpeciesMinimum SizePossession Limit
All Permitted Sharks (exceptions listed below)54 in.1 total per trip
Atlantic Sharpnose SharkNo minimum sizeincluded in total shark bag limit + 1 additional
Bonnethead SharkNo minimum sizeincluded in total shark bag limit + 1 additional
Smooth DogfishNo minimum sizeincluded in total shark bag limit + 1 additional
Blacknose SharkNo minimum sizeincluded in total shark bag limit
Finetooth SharkNo minimum sizeincluded in total shark bag limit
Hammerhead Shark78 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

SpeciesMinimum SizeOther Restrictions
Bay Scallopwell defined growth ringClosed April 01–October 01
consult town regulations
Conch3 in. shell widthconsult town regulations
Oyster3 in. shell diameterconsult town regulations
Quahog1 in. shell thicknessconsult town regulations
Sea Scallop3 1/2 in. shell diameterdaily limit of 1 bushel in shell, or 4 quarts of shucked meats
Softshell Clam2 in. shell diameterconsult town regulations
Surf Clam5 in. shell diameterconsult town regulations

Recreational Lobster Regulations

Gulf of Maine Recreational Lobster Area
Minimum Size3 1/4 in.
Maximum Size5 in.
V-Notched Females: DefinitionIllegal 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 Limit10 Traps
Escape VentOne rectangular vent 1 15/16 in. × 5 3/4 in. or two circular vents of 2 7/16 in. in diameter
Bag Limit15 lobsters per day
Outer Cape Cod Recreational Lobster Area
Minimum Size3 3/8 in.
Maximum SizeNone
V-Notched Females: DefinitionIllegal 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 Limit10 Traps
Escape VentOne rectangular vent 2 in. × 5 3/4 in. or two circular vents of 2 5/8 in. in diameter
Bag Limit15 lobsters per day
Southern New England Recreational Lobster Area
Minimum Size3 3/8 in.
Maximum Size5 1/4 in.
V-Notched Females – DefinitionIllegal 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 Limit10 Traps
Escape VentOne rectangular vent 2 in.× 5 3/4 in. or two circular vents of 2 5/8 in. in diameter
Bag Limit15 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

SpeciesBlue CrabOther Edible Crabs (excludes Green Crabs)
Minimum Size5 in. shell width (spine to spine)None
Other RegulationsEgg-bearers cannot be taken; 25 crabs/day; no permit required unless using traps or SCUBA; closed season is January 01–April 30, inclusive50 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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