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Fishermen Warn of Salmon Depopulation in 1902

Fights over fish in the Rogue River were common in the early 1900’s.  Fishing was a profitable business, and fishermen didn't like being told how to fish or when to stop. 
By 1902, some people became convinced fishing and hatchery practices reduced salmon populations.  In a front-page Rogue River Courier column, two fishermen identified by their last names as Miller and Barneburg, expressed concern about gillnetting.

Miller and Barneburg complained that fish were being netted before reaching their upriver spawning grounds. They warned that the ragged spawners were then cleaned up, bleached and sold as younger fish, cheating both the buyer and reducing the salmon population.

After describing salmon spawning habits in detail, the two men criticized local fish hatcheries.  They said hatcheries were selling salmon eggs outside the region, preventing fish from returning to their natural spawning in the river.  Also, because salmon return to where they hatched, many were congregating around the Elk Creek Hatchery and another hatchery at the mouth of the river and not returning to natural spawning areas. 

Miller and Barneburg predicted a rapid decline of fish numbers if the public didn't respond by helping change fishing and hatchery practices.

Source:  Barneburg, Miller. "Rogue River Fish Information: The Stream Is Being Rapidly Depopulated and Soon Will Be Bare of Fish." Rogue River Courier, [Grants Pass Oregon. Accessed 14 Aug. 1902. oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/sn96088281/1902-08-14/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1846&index=1&date2=2016&words=salmon&searchType=advanced&sequence=0&lccn=sn96088281&proxdistance=5&rows=20&ortext=salmon&prox

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.