The stability of occurrence, abundance and dominance of fish was compared between two sampling periods, 1963-66 and 2002-04 in two lowland rivers from the Warta/Odra system (Poland): the Widawka and its tributary Grabia (95.8 and 77.3 km long, respectively). The Widawka system has been under strong influence of a brown coal strip mine since the 1970s. Long stretches of the upper Widawka and of its certain tributaries were changed into concrete canals, which receive daily 660 000 m3 of water disposed by the strip mine. The Grabia maintained its natural character. On the basis of the abundance of fish species, the Kohonen artificial neural network almost perfectly separated fish samples collected in 1963-66 from samples collected in 2002-04, which means that: 1) the differences in ichthyofauna between these two sampling periods were more drastic than spatial differences between the severely modified Widawka and the natural Grabia, and 2) in general, ichthyofauna at the most modified sites in 1963-66 was in better condition than at the least modified sites in 2002-04. In 1963-66, the species, roach, gudgeon, bleak and dace composed together 70% of the total fish number, while in 2002-04 the same joint dominance was gained by roach, perch and stone loach. The analysis of temporal changes in the Widawka and Grabia Rivers focused on the following 3 fish groups: (1) Non-psammophilous rheophils (NPR), which are most vulnerable to human-induced modifications, which is why their decline and/or extinction are typical for unbalanced lotic ecosystems. In this study, the total dominance of NPR decreased 5 times; (2) Psammophilous rheophils (stone loach and gudgeon), which often predominate in degraded smaller streams. In this study, the dominance of stone loach increased 3 times and was highest in the most affected stretches of the Widawka River, including those that had been canalised. Gudgeon was often dominant at moderately modified sites of the Widawka; (3) Roach and perch, whose high dominance is typical for disturbed larger rivers, which was supported also in this study by the fact that both species were most dominant in 2002-04. The dominance of roach increased almost twice and was highest in the lower courses of both rivers. A significant increase in abundance was recorded for perch, whose dominance was highest in the canalised section of the Widawka. The described changes were deep enough to influence the hardly sensitive CDI, Simpson and Shannon indices, which indicated a significant increase in dominance and a decrease in diversity of fish assemblages over the last 4 decades.