13 lakes in Washington
where loons breed

Click on map to enlarge


Conserving Common Loons by Managing Use of Lead Fishing Tackle

Ingestion of small lead fishing tackle is a leading cause of known mortalities of the common loon, a sensitive species in Washington that is likely to become threatened or endangered without improved survival.

Managing use of lead fishing tackle at the 13 lakes in Washington where loons breed and rear young is intended to improve loon survival by keeping loons from being poisoned by ingesting small lead fishing gear lost by anglers.

Restrictions on lead at those lakes, which go into effect May 1, 2011, were adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in December 2010.

The new rules prohibit the use of lead weights and jigs that measure 1 ½ inches or less along the longest axis at 12 lakes – Ferry and Swan lakes in Ferry County; Calligan and Hancock lakes in King County; Bonaparte, Blue and Lost lakes in Okanogan County; Big Meadow, South Skookum and Yocum lakes in Pend Oreille County; Pierre Lake in Stevens County; and Hozomeen Lake in Whatcom County. In addition, the Commission banned the use of flies containing lead at Long Lake in Ferry County.

Information on lead-free alternatives

Background on the rule-making process

After the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission rejected a lead fishing tackle restriction proposal in Fall of 2009, an Ad Hoc Citizen Advisory Group was formed to review the science on environmental impacts of lead and to develop recommendations for addressing the issue. Their discussion ranged from fishing closures on these lakes to no change at all, with varied support for the following final range of options:

  • A total ban on any lead fishing tackle
  • A partial ban, with no lead fishing weights or jig heads
  • A partial ban with no lead fishing weights or jig heads equal to or less than one ounce or equal to or less than 1-1/2 inches along the longest axis
  • No restriction (no change or “status quo”)


Fall 2009 Proposal for lead tackle restriction included in draft 2010-12 Sportfishing Rules for public review; after public comments, Commission rejects and requests additional process
Spring 2010 Ad Hoc Citizen Advisory Group solicited, formed, and met to review science and develop recommendations
July 2010 Two public meetings (Spokane, Mill Creek) to discuss recommendations
Oct. 1-2, 2010 Commission takes public input on recommendations at meeting in Olympia

Nov. 19, 2010

Deadline for written comment to WDFW Rules Coordinator Lori Preuss at Lori.Preuss@dfw.wa.gov or 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA, 98501.

Dec. 2-4, 2010 Commission adopts rule on lead tackle that goes into effect May 1, 2011

For more information
These links provide additional information and perspectives. They may not reflect the views and policies of the WDFW.