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A fish wheel is a water-powered device used for catching fish, particularly adult salmon, and consist of a revolving wheel with baskets and paddles attached to its rim. When the wheel is floated on the river, the river current turns the wheel causing the baskets to scoop down upon the salmon traveling upstream and lift them out of the water. Once out of the water, the basket's tilted bottom channels the fish out of an opening and into a hopper on board the floating dock. The ingenious device can catch large amounts of fish and the best part is that the fishermen doesn’t even have to be there. One fish wheel operating in Columbia River in the early 20th century reportedly pulled out half a ton of salmon daily. Indeed, fish wheels were so effective as a fish catching device that they were banned in the United States because they threatened the salmon population. Fish wheels for commercial fishing is only allowed in Alaska along the Copper River and the Yukon River.

An undated photograph of two men standing on the deck of a stationary fish wheel on the Columbia river. Photo credit

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© Amusing Planet, 2015.


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