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No More Lead Fishing Tackle On Three Vilas Lakes

Joshua Mayer

Lead fishing tackle won’t be allowed on three lakes in Vilas County.  Starting April 1st, the DNR is prohibiting any tackle containing lead on Escanaba, Nebish and Pallette lakes.   All three are research lakes in the Northern Highland American Legion state forest.

DNR fisheries research scientist Greg Sass is based at the Escanaba Research Station in Boulder Junction.  He says small pieces of lead like split shot and jig head can be harmful to wildlife like loons. 

“In the case of loons, a lot of times when split shot may be thrown into the water, or lost accidentally, loons can ingest some of that lead shot, and if ingested in high enough levels it can lead to lead poisoning.”

The lead restriction is a pilot project to help spread awareness and protect wildlife. 

Sass says the DNR will administer a survey at the Escanaba Lake Research Station…which already requires anglers using these lakes to check in and out.

“And so, we’ll be able to gauge their perceptions, their use of nonlead tackle, and their experiences through that survey. Which will help us look at questions like acceptance, and just overall use of tackle and their experience this year. Having interaction with the anglers at the desk is really important, and another reason why these three lakes were chosen.”

Many fishermen rely on lead tackle because it’s less expensive and more easily available. 

The DNR says it will have a limited supply of non-lead fishing tackle available for free at the Escanaba Station.