Why Fish Lead Free | Angler’s Guide | Where to Buy | Tackle Disposal 

Anglers: Know the Law

Maine law bans the sale and use of bare (unpainted) lead-headed jigs and sinkers containing any amount of lead that weigh 1 ounce or less and measure 2 1/2 inches long or less. 

Maine Lead Tackle Buyback Program

Make the switch to lead-free tackle, it’s on us!

Maine Audubon and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) have partnered with local tackle shops* to provide a $10 store voucher to any person who turns in one ounce or more of lead fishing tackle (including lead-headed jigs and sinkers containing any amount of lead). One voucher per person. Offer valid until March 15, 2026 or until all vouchers are claimed. Please note the above flyer has a expiry date of March 21, 2021. This is no longer accurate and an updated flyer will be posted soon. 

We encourage anglers to wait to visit participating retailers until it’s safe to do so, but we suggest you can start preparing now by going through your tackle box and sorting out old lead fishing tackle.

* Participating Retailers Subject to change.
1. Indian Hill Trading Post (Moosehead Lake)
2. Dag’s Bait Shop (Auburn)
3. BackWoods Bait and Tackle (Chesterville)


Why Fish Lead Free?

Fishing lead free is better for our wildlife and the health of our lakes.  Lead poisoning is a leading cause of death for adult Common Loons in Maine. These deaths are completely preventable by using non-lead fishing tackle. Keeping lead sinkers out of Maine waters will increase loon survival and allow the state’s population to thrive. 

Angler’s Guide to Lead Free Fishing

Non-toxic tackle comes in many metal choices and modern metal alloys offer the angler a number of advantages:

  • They are environmentally safe
  • They have more sound producing qualities to call in those fish and up your catch
  • Tungsten is denser and harder than lead, which allows the angler to “feel” the bait more effectively and, consequently, helps the angler feel the bite
  • Tackle made from tin, bismuth, and steel alloys are lighter than lead, but many anglers have reported good success using lighter baits and lures because they have a more natural appearance and presentation.
  • Any fishing tackle containing zinc is not recommended because it is also toxic to wildlife.


Where to Buy Lead-Free Tackle in Maine

Cabela’s:  (207) 883-7400, 100 Cabela’s Blvd.  Scarborough, ME 04074

LLBean Hunting and Fishing Store: 1-877-755-2326,  95 Main St. Freeport, ME 04032

Luke’s Reel Repair: (207) 985-2492, 737 Alewive Rd, Kennebunk, ME 04043

Mainely Bait & Tackle: (207) 993-3031, 1340 N Palermo Rd, Palermo, ME 04354

M.C.W. Bait & Tackle: (207) 642-3039, 60 Fort Hill Rd, Standish, Maine 04084

Moosehead Bait and Tackle: (207) 534-226, Jackman Rd, Rockwood, ME 04478

Saco Bay Tackle Shop: (207) 284-4453, 977 Portland Rd, Saco, ME 04072

           Whitney’s Outfitters: 207-403-8000, 274 W Broadway, Lincoln, ME 04457

The Tackle Shop: (207) 773-3474, 61 India St, Portland, ME 04101

For a list of Online Retailers please click here.

If you’d like to add your local Maine store to the list above, please fill out the form at the bottom of the page.


Lead Tackle Collection/Disposal Sites

Maine Audubon Centers

  • Gilsland Farm*: 20 Gilsland Farm Rd, Falmouth, ME 04105; (207) 781-2330
  • Fields Pond*: 216 Fields Pond Rd., Holden, ME 04429; (207) 989-2591

Maine IFW Offices

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) offices accept lead tackle. For a list of lead tackle collection and disposal sites, click here.

Transfer Stations

  • Millinocket: 20 Cedar Street, Millinocket, ME 04462
  • Sherman: 253 Extract Rd, Sherman, ME 04776, (207) 365-4879
  • Bridgewater Town Hall: 11 Bootfoot Rd, Bridgewater, ME 04735 
  •  Bridgewater Transfer Station, Corner Road, Bridgewater, ME 04735 , (207)-429-9856
  • Skowhegan: Steward Hill Road, Skowhegan, ME 04976, (207)- 474-6918
  • Biddeford Public Works: 371 Hill Street, Biddeford, ME 04005, (207) 282-1579

Additional Disposal Options

  • Riverside Recycling Facility : 207-797-6200, 910 Riverside St, Portland ME 04103
  • Perry Iron & Metal Co. : 207-775-3181, 115 Lancaster St, Portland ME 04101
  • Schnitzer Northeast Scrapmetal Dealer: (207)- 772-8329, 568 Riverside Street, Portland, ME 04103 US
  • Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust: PO Box 333, office: 3 Round Top Lane, Damariscotta, ME 04543   (207)-563-1393
  • Pemaquid Pond Campgrounds
  • Maine Lakes Resource Center: 137 Main St. Belgrade Lakes, ME 04918  (207) 495-3617


Tackle Exchange Events

Upcoming Lead Exchange Events

  • On-going exchanges are taking place at many of the disposal locations listed above
  • Stay tuned for dates regarding lead exchange events this summer

Would You Like to Host a Lead Exchange in Your Community?

Please contact us if you are attending a public event, like a lake association or civic group meeting, if you spend time at a local boat ramp, or if you have a location where fisherman can exchange lead tackle for lead-free samples.

We can provide you with everything you need to publicize the exchange event, collect lead tackle and distribute lead-free samples. Our lead-free kits come  with an assortment of lead-free tackle, outreach materials (rack cards and posters), and stickers to attach to a container for lead tackle collection. We currently have funding to support lead tackle exchanges in the following towns:

Albion Frankfort Newburgh Stockton Springs
Appleton Freedom Northport Swanville
Belfast Hampden Orland Thorndike
Belmont Hope Orrington Troy
Brooks Jackson Palermo Union
Bucks Mills Rod & Gun Club Jefferson Penobscot Unity
Bucksport Knox Penobscot County Conservation Assoc. Vassalboro
Burnham Knox County Fish   & Game Plymouth Waldo
Camden Liberty Prospect Warren
China Lincolnville Rockport Washington
Detroit Monroe Searsmont Windsor
Dixmont Montville Searsport Winslow
Etna Morrill Somerville Winterport

Map of FLF Project Area 2020

Would You Like to Set Up a Lead Tackle Collection Site in your Town?

We currently have funding to support lead tackle collection at a number of Maine lakes and ponds. Please contact us if you are interested in setting up a lead tackle collection bin at a boat ramp located on one of the following lakes or ponds, or let us know if you have an organization or business in mind in one of the towns listed above which might be interested in serving as an ongoing lead tackle collection site. Unlike one-time exchange events, ongoing collection sites require someone to construct and install a collection bin, check regularly for deposited tackle, and dispose of the lead tackle at a designated lead collection facility (or it can be mailed to us at Maine Audubon, 20 Gilsland Farm Road, Falmouth, ME 04105).

Boat Launches within our 2020 Fish Lead Free Project Area

Lake Boat Launch Coordinates Town Trailerable or Hand Carry
Unity Pond 44.682, -69.3426 Unity T
China Lake 44.4457, -69.6054 Vassalboro T
China Lake 44.4791, -69.5111 China T
Sheepscot Pond 44.37758, -69.43285 Palermo T
Lake Saint George 44.39442, -69.35031 Liberty T
Stevens Pond 44.38197, -69.29759 Liberty T
Trues Pond 44.39075, -69.29099 Liberty HC
Sandy Pond 44.5236, -69.2931 Freedom T
Swan Lake 44.5256, -68.9998 Swanville T
Megunticook Lake 44.2349, -69.10872 Camden T
Megunticook Lake 44.24756, -69.08977 Camden T
Washington Pond 44.27477, -69.38973 Washington HC
Alford Lake 44.23808, -69.22743 Hope T
Belfast Bay 44.42866, -69.0038 Belfast T
Silver Lake 44.60142, -68.79369 Bucksport T
Silver Lake 44.59942, -68.79151 Bucksport HC
Jacob Buck Pond 44.64207, -68.74422 Bucksport T
Seven Tree Pond 44.20322, -69.27575 Union T
South Pond 44.109482, -69.278024 Warren T
Chickawaukie Pond 44.1366, -69.12 Rockland T
Crystal Pond 44.29573, -69.39552 Washington HC

 About Lead Exchange Presentations:

This year, Maine Audubon will also be offering presentations about common loons and the Fish Lead Free Initiative to a number of Maine towns. Presentations are 30-50 minutes long and include a multimedia slide show about loon natural history, as well as an overview of current threats, including lead tackle. Lead-free tackle and outreach materials will also be available.

Contact Us:

For more information or to schedule a presentation for your organization, please email Hannah Young from Maine Audubon.

If You Find a Dead Loon

  • Should you ever find a dead loon, please report the loon to Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW) at 207-287-8000. Here is link to the Maine Warden Service information page.

    Next, the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) collects dead loons from across New England to determine the cause of death. If you come across a dead loon, please call BRI (207-839-7600) to let them know. Please take photos of the loon, note the location, and whether the loon is banded – this is all very helpful information and assists BRI in determining what may have happened.

    Do not attempt to touch or collect the dead loon. There are diseases, like Avian Influenza, that can be spread through touch and/or contamination via clothes. For your own safety, and the safety of other birds, please allow DIFW or BRI handle collection and transportation.

For more information about Maine lead free fishing please click here or here

If you’d like to add your local Maine store to the list above, please fill out the form:

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