As It Was: Commercial Rogue River Fishing Declines in Early 1900s

Oct 18, 2017

A Rogue River Courier newspaper article from 1913 affords a glimpse of the decline of commercial fishing on the Rogue River.

The Fishermen’s Union was losing members, but still netted enough fish to require a sales hut in Grants Pass.

At the height of the spawning salmon rush upriver, more than 30 boats with gill nets scooped them from the Rogue River all summer.  New regulations limited gill-net fishing to a 15-mile section of river between Grants Pass and the mouth of Jump-Off Joe Creek.  This didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the remaining fishermen, who launched at night and stayed awake until dawn, filling their nets with royal chinook and anything else that came along. 

When the fishermen reached the creek, wagons waited to haul them, their boats and their catch back to the fish warehouse where they sold salmon on the spot to anyone who could pay 8 cents a pound. 

Grants Pass approved the 12-by-12-foot sales hut on land along the Rogue River near the city dump, stipulating that the facility be kept sanitary and wholesome and the fish be sold whole.
 

Source: "Build Warehouse for Salmon." Rogue River Courier, 9 May 1913 [Grants Pass OR] , p. 1. Historic Oregon Newspapers, https://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn96088180/1913-05-09/ed-1/seq-1/. Accessed 20 Sept. 2017.