Massachusetts Cod Fishing Regulations

Massachusetts Cod Fishing Regulations
The Atlantic cod has long been recognized as a symbol of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' heritage. According to the state's Division of Marine Fisheries, a model referred to as the "Sacred Cod" hangs in the statehouse. The Atlantic cod inhabits waters stretching from western Greenland south to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, but can be found in abundance from the coast of northern Labrador to the Nantucket Shoals region. Those choosing to fish for Atlantic cod in Massachusetts within the Fishery Conservation Zone (3-200 miles from the shoreline) should keep some basic rules and regulations in mind.

Size Regulations

Recreational angling of cod requires the harvest to be a minimum 17 inches. North of Cape Cod the size limit is 24 inches, and south and east of Cape Cod it's 22 inches.

Possession Limits

North of Cape Cod, 10 fish are permitted per fisherman per trip from April 1 through October 31. From November 1 through March 31, the limits are two cod per person or 75 lb. per boat. South and east of Cape Cod, possession of 10 fish per person per trip is allowed throughout the year.

Conservation Zones

North of Cape Cod, spring and winter cod conservation zones are designed to preserve natural habitat and cod populations and to manage the high demand for this species. The spring zone is from May 1 through June 30, and the winter zone is from December 1 through January 31. It is illegal to catch cod in conservation zones during these periods.


Many anglers fish for cod in private or party boats. A 7 1/2- to 9-foot medium to stiff rod with a conventional 4/0 reel is required for pursuing cod species offshore.


Permits are not required for recreational saltwater angling in Massachusetts; however, a commercial permit is required when any fish are sold.

Article Written By A.C. Bauer

A.C. Bauer is a seasoned adventurist with explorations spanning four continents, including hiking Machu Picchu, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, running the Ice Age Trail and road biking out of her front door. She has written marketing materials for eight years and worked for Red Bull, Disney and Dick's Sporting Goods, and received a master's in recreation and sport science from Ohio University.

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