Those who catch Columbia River salmon have changed
significantly. Until the early 1800s, the tribes
were the only ones fishing. With the development of the canned salmon
industry in 1866, gillnetters became the dominant group. World
War I brought the first fishing in the ocean. Now most of the
catch is taken in the ocean. For some runs, catches in
Southeast Alaska and British Columbia are greater than the
number of fish caught in the Columbia. These data and background on the
changes are in Smith (1979:39, 88-99).
In 1934, Initiative 77 passed in Washington State. It eliminated the use of fishwheels, traps, and seines on the Washington side of the Columbia. Earlier, 1926, Oregon eliminated fishwheels on its side. Traps were never very significant in Oregon, and seines were allowed to continue to fish by the Oregon Legislature. The initiative was promoted as a conservation measure. Its major impact was redistribution of catch as comparing the 1930-34 catch distribution with the 1935-39 one.
The big change between the early 1970s and the late 1980s was how much of the catch was being taken in the ocean, much of it as far off as Southeast Alaska.