Can You Legally Catch Fish From Shore Without a License in Massachusetts?
With late summer here, it may be on your recreation list to take advantage of some of the most beautiful lakes in Massachusetts including Lake Cochituate which spreads through Natick, Wayland, and Framingham as well as Onota Lake (technically Lake Onota) in Pittsfield, Lake Wyola in Shutesbury, Lake Mansfield in Great Barrington, and Lake Chaubunagungamaug in Webster just to name a few. The list of beautiful Massachusetts lakes is endless. Whether you plan on swimming or fishing in these Massachusetts lakes, one thing is for sure you don't want to pass up the opportunity to experience one (if not more) of these lakes this summer.
Is It Illegal to Catch Fish from Shore Without a License in Massachusetts?
Speaking of fishing, one thing I always wondered is if someone is fishing from shore can they do so without a license? At times you'll see young children with their parents just having a fun time catching and throwing fish back in the water. The truth is whether you are fishing from shore or you are on a boat in the water unless you are under the age of 15, it is technically illegal to partake in these fishing activities in Massachusetts if you don't have a fishing license. Furthermore, depending on the type of fishing activity, there are fines associated with unlicensed fishing in Massachusetts.
Here's more information including penalties regarding Massachusetts fishing license laws according to the Massachusetts Legislature:
Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 131, Section 90
The punishment includes a fine of $50 - $100 and/or you could face prison time for 30 days.
Section 90 of Chapter 131 provides for an additional penalty of $5 for each fish illegally taken, and $2,000 if it's an endangered species.
There are Separate Penalties for Saltwater Fishing:
Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 130, Section 17C, Subsection (b) provides the following:
You cannot participate in the recreational activity of fin fishing, or take or land finfish for recreational purposes in or from the coastal waters in Massachusetts without first obtaining a saltwater recreational fishing permit from the director.
Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 130, Section 17D, provides the following as a penalty for saltwater fishing without a required license:
If you violate section 17C, or any related rule or regulation, you'll be punished by a fine per offense as declared by the director.
Who Needs a License?
According to Mass.gov if you are 15 years of age or older, you need a license to fish. Licenses are FREE for Massachusetts residents 15-17 years of age, and those 70 and over. You can get your license by going here. Also, don't forget to carry your license with you just like you would your driver's license.
These residents can obtain a free license but must follow the appropriate steps.