The 5 Best Fish to Catch in Massachusetts This Summer

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: September 15, 2022
© Anna L. e Marina Durante/
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Like many coastal states, Massachusetts has a wide variety of places where you can catch fish. Massachusetts has the Atlantic Ocean bordering the eastern part of the state, several rivers running through it, and many lakes, reservoirs, and ponds. So, what fish should you try to catch when you come to this state in the summer? We’re going to show you five of the best fish to catch in Massachusetts along with where they can be found and what bait to use to get them on your hook!

What Are the Best Fish to Catch in Massachusetts?

The reality is that there is no single best fish to catch in Massachusetts. Instead, we want to provide an overview of several fish that inhabit the waters in and around the state. You’ll find some that are easy to catch, and others are more difficult.

Moreover, some of them are freshwater and others are saltwater. Hopefully, every reader finds some worthy species to catch on this list! Without further ado, let’s look at some of the top choices for fishers to catch in this state!

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1. Landlocked Atlantic Salmon

An Atlantic salmon leaps upstream to reach its spawning grounds
The salmon is found only in large reservoirs throughout Massachusetts.

©Kevin Wells Photography/

A lot of people are not aware that you can catch salmon within the borders of Massachusetts. However, you can find these fish in large reservoirs throughout the state. Specifically, you’ll see them in the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs in this area.

These salmon enjoy living in clear, cold waters with rocky bottoms so they can spawn. They usually grow between 15 and 25 inches in length, and only weigh up to 5 pounds at that size. Yet, the biggest landlocked salmon that has been caught in the state measured 27.5 inches, and it was found in the Quabbin Reservoir.

Anglers typically use a trolling technique with lures, flies, and other bait to get them to bite. Look in water over 15 feet deep in the summer because these fish like cold water during hot days. Try finding them in the early morning and late evening.

2. Largemouth Bass

Trophy Largemouth Bass
The largemouth bass is easily caught with a lot of bait options.

Everyone loves to catch largemouth bass. This species is large and has the benefit of a great presentation for the camera. All these factors make them one of the best fish to catch in Massachusetts. They usually measure between 12 inches and 20 inches, and they can weigh up to 5 pounds. When they weigh over 5 pounds and measure over 20 inches, you know you’ve landed a big one!

You can only catch up to five of these fish a day, and they have to measure over 12 inches in length to keep. These fish love to eat a variety of foods, so that means you have a lot of options for bait. Try using worms, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits depending on the depth of the water.

Many lakes have largemouth bass in their depths. Some of the best include Quabbin Reservoir, Walden Pond, Sampsons Pond, Lake Rohunta, and Whitman’s Pond. However, you will find these fish throughout many bodies of water in the state.

3. Brook Trout

Trout vs Salmon - Brook Trout
Catching the brook trout might be quite challenging.


The brook trout is another one of the best fish to catch in Massachusetts. They’re tough to find and catch, and that challenge makes them desirable. They usually measure about 8 inches long when they’ve bred in the wild, and they weigh just a few pounds. However, they can grow much larger when they’re part of the stocked fish breed.

This species is a popular breed for fly fishers to catch. However, they are notoriously hesitant to bite. Still, you can use dry flies on ponds and streams to catch these fish. You may also catch brook trout by using a typical bait and cast method with worms, jigs, and spinners.  

Some of the best places that you can catch these fish include Swift River, Cliff Pond, Forest Lake, Otis Reservoir, Wright Pond, and Wachusett Reservoir.

4. Bluegill

A distinctive feature of bluegills is the dark spot at the end of their dorsal fin.
Bluegills can be found in rivers, lakes, and ponds throughout Massachusetts.

©Clint H/

The bluegill is a popular fish for young people and new anglers to catch. These fish only measure a few inches in length and rarely weigh over 2 pounds. The Massachusetts state record for bluegill is only 2.5 pounds!

These fish are among the best fish to catch in Massachusetts because they’re so easy to get on a hook. Anglers that want to build their confidence would do well to try catching these fish.

You can catch these fish in a wide variety of rivers, lakes, and ponds throughout the state. Many of the largest have been found in Slough Pond, Mill Pond, Mumford River, Merrimack River, and the Quabbin Reservoir.

These fish are often found in shallow water near some cover but not as much as largemouth bass. You can catch them using small amounts of bait like worms, insects, and small artificial lures. Don’t give them too much bait or they’ll eat around the hook and leave!

5. Blue Shark

A Blue shark swimming with pilot fish.
Blue sharks can grow as long as 13 feet.

©Jan Finsterbusch/

Remember, Massachusetts is on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Fishers have access to all sorts of incredible fish, including sharks. That’s right, you can catch blue sharks off the coast of Massachusetts. However, it is highly recommended that you do not hop in a boat and try this yourself.

Instead, try to find a charter boat that is taking on passengers and go out with them. These boats are equipped with the gear you need to reel in and take a shark. They have the bait, the lines, and the experience to make it all happen.

They’ll take you out to catch these large fish. Blue sharks can grow as long as 13 feet and weigh several hundred pounds. Catching one of them is a fight like no other, and it’s not something that everyone gets to experience! You should take some time to make sure you have your licenses in order before you depart, though.  

These are just a few of the best fish to catch in Massachusetts. After showcasing them, hopefully, you have seen at least one fish that you would prefer to catch. Whether you want to go fly fishing for a brook trout or head off the coast in search of sharks, fish are all around in this state. Do a little research on the various species, ask local experts, and go have some fun!

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The Featured Image

A Blue shark (Prionace glauca) in Atlantic ocean near Pico (Azores Islands).
A Blue shark (Prionace glauca) in Atlantic ocean near Pico (Azores Islands).
© Anna L. e Marina Durante/

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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