Massachusetts Fishing License

Massachusetts

Massachusetts has great potential when it comes to fishing locations. Martha's Vineyard is home to an old-timer striped bass. Cape Cod is the spot to be to catch bluefish. Fearing Pond is teeming with largemouth bass. Ipswich River has a rich population of trout whereas Spectacle Pond is the best place to catch bullheads. But before gearing for the fishing trip, it is best to find out which type of fishing license is best suited and find out if additional saltwater fishing permit is necessary.

Massachusetts fishing license can be purchased online from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game website. The money procured from fishing license is partly used for the conservation efforts of the state.

Massachusetts has its own set of fishing regulations, as all states do. Additional fishing laws and regulations on particular waterway may be applicable and may be subject to changed based on the present assessment of the fish population. Responsible anglers should know and abide by the fishing regulations and rules.

Conservation must be factored in when fishing. An angler must have a working knowledge of fish species he intends to catch so that he will know the angling technique best suited for the fish. Knowing the behavior of fish will better equip the angler in making decisions regarding the releasing of fish based on its age or size.


Have you ever wanted to go on a family fishing trip to the Fearing Pond in the Myles Standish State Forest or catch a bluefish off of Cape Cod? Or maybe catch a trophy-size trout in other beautiful fishing sites of Massachusetts? If so, then find out what is the right fishing license that you need to purchase before you can be allowed to reel your lines in any body of water across the state. 

Massachusetts is home to the most popular fishing destinations across the country. Its beautiful coastline, bays, lakes, and rivers provide a great opportunity for fishing. In fact, the fishing industry has long supported many coastal towns across the state, and it is undeniable how important for residents of Massachusetts are their water resources. This is the reason why a fishing license is highly important. Not only that, it will survey how many people are harvesting fish from their waters, the funds collected from its sales are also used to finance their conservation initiatives. 

Wherever you want to fish in MA, there is a right fishing license that you need to buy. It's also easy to buy one as there are convenient options that are available for you. Understanding the different licenses can be taxing to some, but it is actually very straightforward. This article will summarize everything that there is to know when getting a fishing license in Massachusetts. 

Who is required to purchase a Massachusetts fishing license? 

The state of Massachusetts requires all anglers, residents or non-residents, to purchase the required fishing license depending on their purpose. Interestingly, the age requirement for saltwater and freshwater fishing licenses are different in the state. If you want to fish in freshwaters, you have to be at least 15 years of age in order to purchase a fishing license. Conversely, 15-years olds can already purchase a fishing license when they plan to fish in a saltwater fishing area. 

How to purchase a fishing license in Massachusetts? 

Any eligible anglers can purchase a fishing license in the state of Massachusetts in four different ways: online, through the mail, in person, and through call. 

Online

You can buy a Massachusetts fishing license online by logging in the MassFishHunt from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game. 

Via Phone

You can also call the MassFishHunt hotline if you want to order a fishing license through the phone. Fishing permits can be purchased from them between 5 AM and 5 PM. You can call the toll-free number 866-703-1925 for inquiries and purchases. 

Via Mail

Aside from the methods above, you can also opt to order your Massachusetts fishing license via mail. In order to order a license this way, you have to download an application form from the mass.gov website and send it together with a check of the exact amount of your purchase to the following mailing address: 

Division of Marine Fisheries
251 Causeway St.
Suite 400
Boston, MA 02114

In Person

Of course, the most convenient way and fastest way to purchase a Massachusetts license are to buy one from a license sales agent or from the office of the MassWildlife agency. To locate the nearest sales agent, you can check this map. 

Different Types of Fishing Licenses in Massachusetts

The fishing licenses in Massachusetts are divided into two categories - Freshwater and Saltwater Fishing Licenses.

Freshwater Licenses

If you want to fish in a freshwater fishing location, you need to purchase a Freshwater Fishing License. Here’s a summary of the different licenses you can purchase if you want to fish in a saltwater location across the state: 

License

Resident

Non-Resident

Freshwater Fishing

$27.50

$37.50

Minor Freshwater Fishing (Age 15–17)

FREE

$11.50

Freshwater Fishing (Age 65–69)

$16.25

Not Available

Freshwater Fishing
(Age 70 or over or paraplegic, blind, intellectually disabled)

FREE

Not Available

Freshwater Fishing (3 day)

$12.50

$23.50

Quabbin One Day Freshwater Fishing

$5.00

$5.00

In order to be allowed to fish in the freshwaters (lakes, rivers, reservoirs, etc.) of Massachusetts, anglers between the age of 18 and 64 are required to purchase a Freshwater Fishing License for $27.50 (residents) and $37.50 (non-residents). Furthermore, anglers who are minors (age 15-17), can avail of a free Freshwater fishing license if they are a resident and for a discounted rate of $11.50 if they are a non-resident. Resident anglers who are over the age of 70 and those who are paraplegic, blind, intellectually disabled can get a Freshwater License for free. Please note that the rates displayed above are for annual licenses unless stated otherwise. 

Moreover, if you only plan to have a short fishing trip in Massachusetts and don’t think that purchasing an annual fishing license is practical, you can opt to purchase a 3-day freshwater license for $12.50 (resident) and $23.50 (non-resident). 

Saltwater Licenses

If you plan to catch fish in any saltwater location within the state of Massachusetts, you need to purchase a Saltwater Fishing License. The matrix below shows the fee for each type of saltwater fishing license: 

License

Resident

Non-Resident

Saltwater fishing permit (anglers under 60)

$10.00

$10.00

Saltwater fishing permit (anglers 60 and over)

FREE

FREE

If you want to catch fish in any saltwater fishing location in Massachusetts and you are under the age of 60, then you need to purchase a Saltwater Fishing Permit for $10.00 (applicable to both residents and non-residents). Those who are 60 years old and over can avail of a Saltwater Fishing Permit for free. 

Fishing Licenses Fees and other Considerations

Purchasing a Massachusetts fishing license also comes with other fees and contributions. If you are buying a Massachusetts Fishing license for the first time, you will be charged a one-time payment of a $5.00 fee for the Wildlands Conservation Stamp. This fee is charged on all residents and non-resident licenses. Fee for a second resident license in the calendar year does not include the $5.00 fee for the Wildlands Conservation Stamp.

Meanwhile, city and town clerks must add an additional one dollar ($1.00); other sales agents may add up to an additional one dollar and fifty cents ($1.50) service fee to the price of each license sold. An additional service fee of $1.50 per license is applied to all licenses purchased through a sales agent. The same service fee, plus an additional 3% internet handling charge on the total transaction, is applied to all online license purchases. There are no service fees or internet handling charges for licenses purchased at offices of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, where only cash or checks are accepted.

Daily Fishing Limit and other Fishing Regulations in Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts strictly imposes daily fishing and possession limits for both Saltwater and Freshwater fishes. These regulations keep fish populations healthy and provide a variety of fishing opportunities to anglers in the Commonwealth. The matrix below summarizes these limits:

Freshwater Fishing Regulations

Species

Open Season (all dates inclusive)

Daily Fishing Limit

Minimum Length

Trout

Lakes, ponds, major rivers

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

3

N/A

Housatonic River

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

1

20”

All other rivers and brooks

Apr. 1 – Sept. 10, 20020

8

N/A

Lake Trout

Wachusett Reservoir

Set by the Department of Conservation and Recreation

3

N/A

Quabbin

Set by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

2

18”

Landlocked Salmon

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

2

15”

American Shad 7 (Connecticut and Merrimack rivers only, including their tributaries.)

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

3

N/A

Chain Pickerel

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

5

15”

Black Bass (Largemouth and Smallmouth, singly or combined)

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

5

12”

Northern Pike

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

1

28”

Tiger Muskellunge

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

1

28”

Walleye

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

5

14”

Smelt

Jan. 1 – Feb. 28

May 16 – Dec. 31

N/A

N/A

All Other Freshwater Species

Jan. 1 – Dec. 31

 

N/A

N/A

Note: For more information, please consult the Mass.gov website.

Saltwater Fishing Regulations

Species

Season

Size Limit

Possession Limit

American eel

Jan 1 - Dec 31

9 in.

25 fish

Black sea bass

May 18 - Sep 8

15 in

5 fish

Bluefish

Jan 1 - Dec 31

no limit

10 fish

Cod (North of Cape Cod)

Sep 15 - Sep 30

21"

1 fish

Cod (South of Cape Cod)

Jan 1 - Dec 31

21 in.

10 fish

Dab (plaice)

Jan 1 - Dec 31

14 in.

no limit

Fluke

May 23 - Oct 9

17 in.

5 fish

Gray sole

Jan 1 - Dec 31

14 in.

no limit

Haddock (North of Cape Cod)

May 1 - Feb 29

17 in.

15 fish

Apr 15 - Apr 30

17 in.

15 fish

Haddock (South of Cape Cod)

Jan 1 - Dec 31

18 in.

no limit

Halibut

Jan 1 - Dec 31

41 in.

1 fish

Monkfish

Jan 1 - Dec 31

no limit

no limit

Ocean pout

Closed

N/A

prohibited

Pollock

Jan 1 - Dec 31

no limit

no limit

Redfish

Jan 1 - Dec 31

no limit

no limit

River herring

Closed

N/A

prohibited

Scup, Private

Jan 1 - Dec 31

9 in.

30 fish per angler. Not to exceed 150 fish per vessel with 5 or more anglers.

Scup, For-Hire

 

Jan 1 - Apr 30

9 in.

30 fish

May 1 - Jun 30

9 in.

50 fish

Jul 1 - Dec 31

9 in.

30 fish

American shad Merrimack &

Connecticut Rivers

Jan 1 - Dec 31

no limit

3 fish

American shad other waters

Jan 1 - Dec 31

N/A

catch and release only

Smelt

Jun 16 - Mar 14

no limit

50 fish

Spiny dogfish

Jan 1 - Dec 31

no limit

no limit

Striped bass

Jan 1 - Dec 31

28 in.

1 fish

Tautog

 

 

 

Jan 1 - Mar 31

N/A

prohibited

Apr 1 - May 31

16 in.

3 fish

Jun 1  - Jul 31

16 in.

1 fish

Aug 1 - Oct 14

16 in.

3 fish

Oct 15 -Dec 31

16 in.

5 fish

Weakfish

Jan 1 - Dec 31

16 in.

1 fish

White perch

Jan 1 - Dec 31

8 in.

25 fish

Windowpane

prohibited

N/A

N/A

Winter flounder

(North of Cape Cod)

Jan 1 - Dec 31

12 in.

8 fish

Winter flounder

(South & East of Cape Cod)

Mar 1 - Dec 31

12 in.

2 fish

Wolffish

prohibited

N/A

N/A

Yellowtail flounder

Jan 1 - Dec 31

13 in.

no limit

Note: For more information, please consult the Mass.gov website. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is there a reciprocity agreement with other states?

Massachusetts has saltwater fishing reciprocity agreements with New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Q: How much is the handling fee when I purchase a license online? 

On top of all the fees, a 3% internet handling charge on the total transaction is applied to all online license purchases.

Q: What is the contact number of MassWildlife? 

You can reach them through (508) 389-6300 from 8 a.m. to  4:30 p.m., on Mondays through Fridays.