Recently I was going through my gear, getting ready for the upcoming season. I noticed that I had quite a few jig-heads and sinkers, but they were not marked in any way to let me know if they were lead free. Easy I thought to myself. I bought these last year at my local Walmart and since it was illegal to sell lead then these too must be lead free. Unfortunately, while I was in this same Walmart just the other day, I came across a cache of jig-heads and sinkers that were on clearance and low and behold these items clearly stated on the packaging that they contained lead. So, now I am left wondering, is my gear lead free or not? You already know that NH is a lead free state so the thought of having to replace all my jigs and sinkers again was not a pleasant thought due to the expense. What I did instead was reach out to the local NH Fish and Game Department Fisheries Biologist, Andrew Schafermeyer to see if he could give me some insight as to telling if my gear was lead free. This is what he said…
“Thanks you for your inquiry concerning lead lures. For the last four years, it has been unlawful for stores in New Hampshire to sell any type of lead fishing lure or weight that is smaller than one inch or weighs less than one ounce. Most retailers have been diligent in respecting this law. Because of this, I can guess that the gear that you bought at Wal-Mart last year is legal to use.
If you are still unsure, it helps to understand that lead is a very soft metal and you can generally make a mark in it with a knife or other fish hook. Try this with the products that you are weary of. The tin or bismuth replacement is very hard and you will not be able to make a mark in it.
Thanks again for checking with us concerning your tackle. Feel free to call or write with any further questions or comments.”
Andrew Schafermeyer – Fisheries Biologist – NH Fish and Game Department