High water impact on local commercial fishing industry

THOMPSON, Illinois — For Schafer Fisheries, the smell of fish is the smell of money.

"We source from so many different areas that we get fish all the time," said Michael Schafer, owner of Schafer Fisheries.

On Monday, workers cleaned buffalo fish on a conveyor belt, bound to fill an order in Chicago.

The commercial fishing business started as a mom and pop shop in 1955 with a couple of retail stores and restaurants.

In 1976, Michael Schafer and his wife bought the family business from Michael's mom; today, the business handles 15 million pounds of fish a year.

When the area rivers begin to rise, Schafer thinks, "oh no, not again".

"The fishing suffers from flood conditions because the fish go back in the trees and you can't get at them," said Schafer.

And often, he says, fishermen can't get to the fish.

"In today's world they close a lot of the boat ramps too and our fishermen are not allowed to use them either," said Schafer.

"I understand the danger of the river and they don't want to see anybody drown out there because of the high currents. It makes it difficult for our continuity supply to take care of our customers in that respect," said Schafer.

Despite the flood water, Schafer Fisheries makes business work by sourcing fish from multiple states.