Loon Safe Fishing


Sadly, the news has been full of reports of loons that have become entangled with fishing line, swallowed hooks, and ingested lead sinkers and jigs.  Each of these things kills loons!  Loons ingest small pebbles as grit to aid with digestion, and they sometimes inadvertently pick up a lead sinker left by an angler.  Just one lead sinker will cause lead poisoning, and the loon will die within two to four weeks.


Photo by Loon Preservation Committee

Please follow these steps for loon-safe fishing:


  1. Only use lead-free tackle.

  2. Never cast towards nesting loons.

  3. Pick up and properly discard (cut up into tiny pieces) your fishing line.

  4. If loons are in the area, stop fishing until they leave that area, or personally move and fish in another area.

  5. It is illegal to soak an unattended line, but many still do. A dead loon was found dragging the fishing rod and had swallowed the baited hook. Please do not leave lines unattended.

  6. If you accidentally hook a loon, do NOT cut the line.  Land the loon.  If externally hooked, place a light towel or coat over its head and remove hook and all line before you release it. Do not swaddle a loon, as they do not have a diaphragm and cannot breathe if swaddled.  If you do not feel you can unhook the loon, call a local rehabber and stay with the loon.

  7. If a loon swallowed the hook, land the loon.  The loon will need to be taken to a rehabber. Leave 2 to 3 inches of extra line from the mouth of the loon. This will help aide the rehabber to follow the line to remove an internal swallowed hook.

  8. If you hook a loon and the line breaks, contact your local rehabber and report this loon.  The worst thing you can do is not report it.

  9. Please share this information with other anglers.


Information provided by Linda and Kevin Grenzer

If you need help with an injured or sick loon call:

Garrison Animal Hospital/Wild and Free, 24 hours at 320 692-4180


Lori Naumann

Mn DNR Non-Game Wildlife Representative

Phone: 651-259-5148