Fishing was an important part of life for both the prehistoric and historic Indians. It continued to be important to settlers. During this era, fish such as muskellunge, walleye, perch and catfish were abundant in Ohio's waterways. Fishing methods included hook and line, gigging or spearing, or trotline.
In 1793, soldiers caught 5,000 pounds of fish in two nights using homemade traps across the Great Miami River.
By the late 1800s, Lake Erie was the home of a large commercial fishing industry. One million pounds of whitefish were caught annually between 1885 and 1900. In the mid-twentieth century, the important commercial fish were catfish, walleye, and white bass. Between 1949 and 1959, the average Ohio catch was 21,792,082 pounds.
Over-fishing, an increase in human population, pollution, siltation and ditching of tributaries as well as the introduction of non-native species caused many native fish populations to decline. The blue pike is now extinct because of uncontrolled commercial fishing. Many large and small dams were built throughout the state, allowing for large distances of water to be impounded. This has brought about positive and negative results to Ohio's fishing. Many desirable food and sport fish increased in numbers. These areas also make wonderful places to release fingerlings raised in state fish hatcheries. On the downside, these dams have prohibited a number of anadromous species, such us the coho salmon from reaching spawning grounds.
As of 2003, there are twenty-three state endangered species of fish in Ohio.
The yearly species population varies yearly due to many factors. All in all though, Ohio's fishing outlook is very good with the monitoring and enforcement of fishing regulations and daily bag limits of sport fish.