Early settlers considered sturgeon a nuisance fish when caught in their nets set for more desirable fish like walleye and whitefish. The sturgeon were discarded, or sometimes fed to pigs or used as fertilizer. Because they were rich in oil, discarded sturgeon were stacked on shore like cordwood and burned to fuel steamboats.
Early settlers also used the sturgeon for such purposes as:
- Lamp oil
With the onset of the caviar fishery attitudes towards the sturgeon changed. Sturgeon became the most valuable commercial freshwater fish in North America.