Massachusetts Fishing License 2024: Costs & How to Buy

Find out which license you need to fish in salt or freshwater in Massachusetts. We’ve got info on costs, types and where to buy your license

Massachusetts boasts good fishing in freshwater lakes and rivers, beaches and bays and offshore.

The state’s renowed for some excellent striped bass fishing and good fly fishing for trout. And at the other end of the scale it is a great place to catch a bluefin tuna.

To fish in Massachusetts most anglers will need fishing license. In the guide below we’ve compiled all the information on how much a Massachusetts fishing license costs, where to buy one and which license you need.

We hope this is useful for both resident and non-resident anglers.

How Much is a Massachusetts fishing license?

For freshwater fishing, an annual Massachusetts fishing license for resident anglers costs $29.50. For non-resident anglers an annual Massachusetts freshwater fishing license costs $39.50.

Saltwater fishing requires a permit in Massachusetts, which costs $10 for both resident and non-resident anglers for one year.

There is a range of prices for various other types of fishing licenses in Massachusetts and we’ve summarized all this information for you in the tables below.

See here for the cost of a fishing license in every state.

Massachusetts Fishing License Age: When Do You Need One?

In Massachusetts, all anglers are required to purchase a fishing license depending on their purpose. This applies to both residents and non-residents, and are valid from the time of purchase until the end of the year.

The age requirement for saltwater and freshwater fishing licenses are different in the state. If you’re age 15 and older, you’ll need a license to fish in Massachusetts’ fresh water lakes, ponds, and streams. If you’re age 16 or older, you’ll need a saltwater fishing permit to fish in Massachusetts’ marine waters, including up to the first dam in rivers and streams that flow to the ocean.

See here for details on the age requirement to have a fishing license in other states, which varies between 12 and 18 years of age.

Here is the license fees page: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/license-types-and-fees#2023-saltwater-fishing-permit-fees-

Who Is Exempt From Needing a Fishing License in Massachusetts?

You don’t need a Massachusetts fishing license if you:

  • Are a minor under the age of 16 (or 15 for freshwater);
  • Meet the state’s definition of a disabled person;
  • Are planning on booking a fishing charter with a licensed captain. The boat’s license will cover you.
  • Have a recreational saltwater fishing license from a state that has a reciprocity agreement with Massachusetts. Your out-of-state saltwater license will cover you while you’re fishing in Massachusetts marine waters.
  • Hold the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Permit (the “HMS Permit”) – a government-issued permit that allows anglers to fin-fish (and not land any fish) exclusively in federal waters.

Massachusetts Fishing License Cost and Types

In Massachusetts, anglers have the opportunity to cast their lines into both freshwater and saltwater environments, each offering unique fishing experiences. The cost varies depending on age and residency, and the duration and validity of license you want to purchase.

A Freshwater Fishing License is required for fishing in lakes, rivers, and ponds, while a Saltwater Fishing Permit is necessary for fishing in marine and coastal waters.

Please note that there isn’t a single license or permit that covers both freshwater and saltwater fishing. If you intend to fish in both types of waters, you’ll need to obtain separate licenses for each.

Resident Fishing License Costs

A resident license can be obtained by individuals who qualify with the following criteria:

  • Are domiciled in the state for the entire tax year;
  • Spend more than 183 days in Massachusetts and maintain a permanent place of residence (not counting the days spent in the state while on active duty in the armed forces);
  • Are a part-year resident who moved into or out of the state during the tax year.

Please note that there’s a $5.00 Wildlands Conservation Stamp that will be added to the first resident license.

Freshwater License (annual unless stated)
License TypeCost
Resident Fishing$29.50 (buy now)
Resident Minor Fishing (Age 15–17)FREE
Resident Fishing (Age 65–69)$14.75 (buy now)
Resident Fishing (Age 70 or over; or paraplegic, blind, intellectually disabled)FREE
Resident Fishing (3-day)$12.50 (buy now)
Quabbin Reservoir 1-day Fishing$5.00 (buy now)
Saltwater Fishing Permit (annual unless stated)
License TypeCost
Saltwater fishing permit (anglers under 60)$10.00 (buy now)
Saltwater fishing permit (anglers 60 and over)FREE
Tuna Fishing Massachusetts Feature Image
Massachusetts is also famous for its bluefin tuna fishing offshore

Non Resident Fishing License Costs

Non-residents, which include out-of-state visitors and foreign nationals, can obtain fishing licenses for Massachusetts. Similar to resident licenses, non-resident anglers can select from different options for non resident licenses.

Freshwater Fishing Licenses
License TypeCost
Non-resident Fishing$39.50 (buy now)
Non-resident Minor Fishing (Age 15–17)$7.10 (buy now)
Non-resident Fishing (3-day)$23.30 (buy now)
Quabbin Reservoir 1-day Fishing$5.00 (buy now)
Saltwater Fishing Permit
License TypeCost
Saltwater fishing permit (anglers under 60)$10.00 (buy now)
Saltwater fishing permit (anglers 60 and over)FREE

Who Can Purchase Discounted Massachusetts Fishing Licenses?

Licenses are free for residents ages 15–17 and age 70 and above. Individuals with permanent disabilities or veterans with service-related disabilities may also qualify for a discounted rate.

See here for info on discounts for veterans and seniors in other states. See the info here on free or discounted licenses for disabled anglers.

Freshwater License
License TypeCost
Resident Minor Fishing (Age 15–17)FREE
Resident Fishing (Age 70 or over)Or paraplegic, blind, intellectually disabledFREE
Saltwater Fishing Permit
License TypeCost
Saltwater fishing permit (anglers 60 and over)FREE

Special Fishing Licenses in Massachusetts

Massachusetts offers various special fishing licenses for minors (residents aged 15–17), seniors (aged 70 and above), individuals with certain disabilities, or military service members, which may provide exemptions or reduced fees.

Where Can I Buy a Massachusetts Fishing License?

Massachusetts Fishing Striped Bass
Striped Bass are a favored species for people fishing in Massachusetts

MassWildlife

Fishing licenses can be purchased directly from MassWildlife offices located throughout Massachusetts. These offices provide in-person assistance, and applicants can complete the process on-site. Office locations can be found here.

You can also call the MassWildlife licensing hotline at (508) 389-6300 from 8 a.m. to  4:30 p.m., on Mondays through Fridays..

Online

For convenience, fishing licenses can be purchased online through the MassFishHunt online licensing system. This platform allows applicants to browse available license types, make their selection, and securely complete the purchase.

Walmart and other Retail Outlets

Licenses can also be purchased at numerous license agent locations such as select retail stores, bait and tackle shops, and sporting goods retailers, including Walmart stores. This option provides easy access for anglers who prefer purchasing licenses in person.

What Happens with Massachusetts Fishing License Fees?

Fishing license fees play a crucial role in supporting fisheries management, habitat restoration, and conservation initiatives in Massachusetts. 

All funds from freshwater fishing, hunting, and trapping license purchases go directly into the Inland Fish and Game Fund, which can only be used to support the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) programs and services.

All funds from saltwater fishing permits go into the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Fund, which is administered by the Division of Marine Fisheries.

Does Massachusetts Have Reciprocal License Arrangements With Neighboring States?

Yes, Massachusetts has a reciprocity agreement with various other states, including New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. That means that if you hold a saltwater fishing license issued in any of these states, you don’t have to get a Massachusetts one.

With a Massachusetts saltwater fishing permit you can also go to the waters of Maine, but not vice versa. 

Does Massachusetts Offer Lifetime Fishing Licenses?

At present, Massachusetts does not offer lifetime fishing licenses. Anglers must obtain annual or shorter-term licenses based on their residency and fishing preferences, and they need to renew their licenses at the end of the respective term.

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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