Everything you need to know about fishing in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Start fishing for fun and profit in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Fishing is one of the major activities you can do on your deserted island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but it's not the most intuitive activity. Tom Nook encourages you to start doing it without actually explaining how. Even when you learn the basic mechanisms, there are plenty of hidden tricks to discover. This guide should help make fishing as relaxing as possible.

How to get a fishing rod

Stop by the DIY Workshop at Resident Services, and you'll automatically unlock the DIY recipe for a Flimsy Fishing Rod, which you can craft with five tree branches. All flimsy tools break after 30 uses, so you'll need to craft another one or buy one from Timmy at resident services for 400 Bells.

However, If you buy the Pretty Good Tools Recipes from the Nook Stop terminal for 3,000 Nook Miles, you'll gain the recipe for a Fishing Rod. This tool is more durable but requires both the flimsy fishing rod and an iron nugget to craft. Iron nuggets are fairly rare, and you'll need 30 of them early in the game to unlock your island's shop, so I recommend just putting up with the flimsy version for a while.

How to fish

You can find fish in ponds, rivers, and oceans, and they'll take the form of fish-shaped shadows. Smaller fish have small shadows, larger fish have big shadows, and eels have long, skinny shadows. Make sure to cast your line in front of their faces to attract their attention. Fish will periodically swim forward or change directions, so you might need to recast if they move out of position.

When holding the fishing rod, press A to cast a line into any nearby body of water, though the cast may not work if you're not facing in the proper direction.

Once a fish notices your lure, it will swim forward and take a nibble. Don't pull the line in yet! Wait for it to pull the lure underwater and then press and hold down A. If you got the timing right, the fish will swim around in circles stirring up the water while your line goes taught. At the end of this animation, you'll reel it in and learn what you caught.

Finding new fish and filling in your Critterpedia will help you progress in the Island Ichthyologist Nook Miles task, while any catch will count toward the Angling for Perfection! challenge. You can also earn Nook Miles through the Cast Master challenge, which requires catching 10 fish in a row without one getting away.

What to do with fish?

At the start of the game, Tom Nook is interested in learning about the critters that live on the island and will ask you to gather five unique bugs or fish and bring them to him at Resident Services. Once you do that, he'll tell you that the scholarly owl Blathers wants to set up a museum on your island. You pick a spot for him to pitch a tent and Blathers will move in the next day. Blathers will ask for 15 more unique critters or fossils, and once he's got them, he'll start the two-day process of constructing his museum.

The museum is a gorgeous space that's way bigger on the inside than the outside. All the fish, bugs, and fossils you've collected and donated will be impressively displayed there. You can browse the exhibits and view plaques identifying each specimen and when you donated it. Expect plenty of empty tanks at first with plaques urging you to make more donations.

Once the museum is complete, you'll be able to donate critters and fossils to Blathers in bulk rather than giving him things one at a time. Blathers is only interested in taking one of each type of fish, though some tanks will display several of the same species swimming around anyways. You can view a fish in your Critterpedia to see if you've already donated it. Blathers will give you back anything he doesn't need, and you can display the extras in tanks in your home or sell them to Timmy.

Many of the Nook Miles+ tasks involve fishing, so look out for those so you can use your time efficiently and earn Miles while you fish.

That's not a fish!

Occasionally when you reel in a fish, you'll find that you've actually caught something else like a rock, an old boot, or a can. Don't be sad, though! Everything in Animal Crossing has a use, and this junk is no exception. The Trash Fishin' Nook Miles challenge will reward you once you've fished up three pieces of trash. Many of the junk items also inspire fun DIY recipes like a lovely succulent plant you can make by putting some weeds in that empty can.

How to find fish

Fish shadows come in different shapes and sizes, so you can guess what you're fishing for, but you won't know for sure until you get it. If you want fish to come to you, try using some fish bait. Wander the beach or river banks until you see little bubbles coming out of the sand, and then grab your shovel and dig. You'll pull out a manila clam and get inspiration for a DIY recipe that will turn it into fish bait. Once you've made a bag of bait, just sprinkle it by a body of water, and a fish will spawn! Remember that fish will only spawn with bait four times in the same spot. After that, you'll have to sprinkle the bait in a different spot of water.

The type of fish that appear on your island depends on the time of day and month, with different fish appearing at different times based on whether you're in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere. The hours when each type of fish is active will change with the season. Rainy weather is the only time to catch some fish.

There are 80 fish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and the table below shows the fish that can be found in the Northern Hemisphere, what months they spawn in, and what time of day you can catch them.

Freshwater fish

Name Seasonality Location Active Hours
Bitterling November - March River All day
Pale Chub All year River 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Crucian Carp All year River All day
Dace All year River 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Carp All year Pond All day
Koi All year Pond 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Goldfish All year Pond All day
Pop-eyed Goldfish All year Pond 9 p.m. - 4 a.m.
Ranchu Goldfish All year Pond 9 p.m. - 4 a.m.
Killifish April - August Pond All day
Crawfish April - September Pond All day
Soft-shelled Turtle August - September River 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Snapping Turtle All year River 9 p.m. - 4 a.m.
Tadpole March - July Pond All day
Frog April - August Pond All day
Freshwater Goby April - August River 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Loach March - May River All day
Catfish May - October Pond 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Giant Snakehead June - August Pond 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Bluegill All year River 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Yellow Perch October - March River All day
Black Bass All year River All day
Tilapia June - October River All day
Pike September - December River All day
Pond Smelt December - February River All day
Sweetfish July - September River All day
Cherry Salmon March - June, September - November River (Clifftop) 4 p.m. 9 a.m.
Char March - June, September - November River (Clifftop) 4 p.m. - 9 a.m. (Mar - Jun), All day (Sep - Nov)
Golden Trout March - May, September - November River (Clifftop) 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Stringfish December - March River (Clifftop) 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Salmon September River (Mouth) All day
King Salmon September River (Mouth) All day
Mitten Crab September - November River 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Guppy April - November River 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Nibble Fish May - September River 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Angelfish May - October River 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Betta May - October River 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Neon Tetra April - November River 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Rainbowfish May - October River 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Piranha June - September River 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., 9 p.m. - 4 a.m.
Arowana June - September River 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Dorado June - September River 4 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Gar June - September Pond 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Arapaima June - September River 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Saddled Bichir June - September River 9 p.m. - 4 a.m.
Sturgeon September - March River (Mouth) All day

Marine fish

Name Seasonality Location Active Hours
Sea Butterfly January - March Sea All day
Sea Horse April - November Sea All day
Clown Fish April - September Sea All day
Surgeonfish April - September Sea All day
Butterfly Fish April - September Sea All day
Napoleonfish July - August Sea 4 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Zebra Turkeyfish April - November Sea All day
Blowfish November - February Sea 9 p.m. - 4 a.m.
Puffer Fish July - September Sea All day
Anchovy All year Sea 4 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Horse Mackerel All year Sea All day
Barred Knifejaw March - November Sea All day
Sea Bass All year Sea All day
Red Snapper All year Sea All day
Dab October - April Sea All day
Olive Flounder All year Sea All day
Squid December - August Sea All day
Moray Eel August - October Sea All day
Ribbon Eel June - October Sea All day
Tuna November - April Pier All day
Blue Marlin July - September, November - April Pier All day
Giant Trevally May - October Pier All day
Mahi-mahi May - October Pier All day
Ocean Sunfish July - September Sea 4 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Ray August - November Sea 4 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Saw Shark June - September Sea 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Hammerhead Shark June - September Sea 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Great White Shark June - September Sea 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Whale Shark June - September Sea All day
Suckerfish June - September Sea All day
Football Fish November - March Sea 4 p.m. - 9 a.m.
Oarfish December - May Sea All day
Barreleye All year Sea 9 p.m. - 4 a.m.
Coelacanth All year Sea (Rain) All day

It ain't much, but it's honest work

While not all the creatures listed above can be considered "fish," like crabs for example, they're all lumped into one big fishy group in the game. Still, being able to learn about new sea creatures and where they live is something that makes this game one of the best games you can play on the Nintendo Switch. Get out there and catch a whopper!

Island Living

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

$51 at Amazon

Just chillaxing in paradise

Embark on a new journey with Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Move in on a deserted island, make friends with the locals, and decorate your entire town! Curate your experience and live the way YOU want.

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