Guide

Where to go freshwater fishing in Massachusetts

Get a fishing license

Before you cast your line, you need to get a fishing license if you’re age 15 or older. The license fees vary depending on your age, if you’re a state resident, and if you have a disability.

Your license is good for the calendar year and costs $27.50 if you live in Massachusetts. You can buy your license online through MassFishHunt, at an authorized license agent, or a Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) office.

You have to bring your license with you when you fish, and show a paper copy or display it on your smartphone if an official asks for it.

Key Actions

Buy a freshwater fishing license 

Know the rules

Fishing is a great way to get away from it all, but there are some rules every angler has to follow. These fishing laws are in place to protect fish species and habitats and ensure years of good fishing to come.

Generally you can fish year-round, but there are restrictions for certain bodies of water and some types of fish. Check open season dates, size limits, and catch (creel) limits — the number of fish you can take in 1 day — before you head to your local pond or river.

Key Actions

Learn about freshwater fishing seasons and laws 

Find a fishing spot

Check out pond maps, which provide information on the shape of the bottom of a pond along with the types of fish you’ll find there. You can also search by town or waterbody to find boat or shore access at fishing spots across the state.

Check for sites that are accessible to individuals with disabilities so that everyone in your party can enjoy a relaxing day of fishing.

Key Actions

Find freshwater fishing spots 

Get hooked on state parks

More than 100 state parks managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) have a pond, lake, or river where you can cast a line.

Some parks are stocked with trout each year. Some offer accessible ramps, shorelines, and piers if you have a disability.

You can also fish at the Quabbin, Wachusett, and Sudbury reservoirs, but these spots have special rules and fishing seasons to protect the water supply.

Make sure you check the rules and have your fishing license with you before you head out.

Key Actions

Fishing in state parks and reservoirs 

Fish for stocked trout

Every spring and fall, MassWildlife releases hundreds of thousands of trout into freshwater spots across the state.

This process, called stocking, is designed to improve recreational opportunities for Massachusetts residents. MassWildlife stocks 4 kinds of trout each year.

It’s easy to find out where fish are being released — simply check the trout stocking report, which you can search by town, waterbody, or district.

Key Actions

Check the trout stocking schedule 

Catch-and-release areas

Some sections of rivers and brooks in Massachusetts are catch-and-release areas, where you must return any fish you hook to the water.

You can only use artificial lures in catch-and-release areas, and in some only fly fishing is allowed.

MassWildlife has tips to help you minimize stress to fish you catch and safely release them into the water.

Key Actions

Catch-and-release fishing areas 

Check before you eat fish

Many anglers enjoy cooking their daily catch, but before you do, you should check whether it’s safe to eat the fish you catch.

The Department of Public Health (DPH) has updated information on which types of fish are safe to eat, which locations you can eat fish from, and who can eat the fish you catch in Massachusetts waters.

Some people, including pregnant women and children under 12 years old, shouldn’t eat any freshwater fish caught in Massachusetts unless it’s stocked by MassWildlife.

Key Actions

Check if you should eat the fish you catch 

Find prize-winning fish

MassWildlife uses prize catch records from the Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program to create a list of spots where anglers have consistently caught trophy fish.

The best spots for trophy fishing depend on the kind of fish you want to reel in. You can check out MassWildlife’s recommendations for fishing spots by type of fish.

There’s no need to worry if you can’t make it to a place on the list — big fish lurk in lakes, rivers, and ponds all over the state. Get out there and try your luck.

Key Actions

Best bets for trophy fishing 

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