Harvesting the River
Harvest Transport History

Home > Harvesting > Fish > Industry> Commercial Fishing Along the Illinois River

  Commercial Fishing Along the Illinois

The central Illinois River teemed with huge populations of native fish such as the channel catfish, largemouth bass, gizzard shad, and smallmouth buffalo. Native Americans, French explorers and missionaries, and Euro-American settlers all fished the river.

As demand increased, fishing grew to become an important industry and way of life for nineteenth-century Illinois river people. With the fishing industry grew up peripheral businesses such as making and servicing fishing tools, boat building, net-knitting, fish-trap making, fish markets, ice houses, and other trades that made products or offered services in the harvesting, processing, and sale of large quantities of fish to meet market demands in large cities. The common or European carp was introduced to help meet demand. The industry lasted until the 1950s, by which time the increased industrial and sewage pollution of the river habitat had decreased the viability of many of the commercial species.

Documents include a narrative of the industry's local history by a local resident of Meredosia and photographs chronicling the commercial harvest.

Images Videos Audio clips

(-)Harvesting Subjects
    Harvest Introduction
        Fish Species
        Fishing Industry
        Tools and Techniques
        Waterfowl Species
        Hunting Industry
        Tools and Techniques
        Fresh Water Mussel Species
        Musseling Industry
        Tools and Techniques
        Natural Ice
        Commercial Ice
        Ice Harvesting

State of Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources Illinois State MuseumSearch