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. 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!
Occassionally 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 until you see little bubbles coming out of the sand and then grab your shovel and dig. You'll pull out a manilla 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!
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. Some players believe rainy weather increases the rate of rare fish appearing and may be the only time to catch some fish.
There are 80 fish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons and the table below is a work in progress showing the fish we've found so far in the Northern Hemisphere and how you can catch them.
|Bitterling||Jan-Mar, Nov-Dec||River||All Day (March)|
|Koi||All year||Pond||4 p.m.-9 a.m. (March)|
|Dab||Jan.-Apr., Oct.-Dec.||Sea||All Day (March)|
|Pale Chub||All year||River||9 a.m.-4 p.m.|
|Goldfish||All year||Pond||24 hours|
|Black Bass||All year||River||24 hours|
|Sea Butterfly||Jan.-Mar.||Sea||24 hours|
|Horse Mackerel||All year||Sea||24 hours|
|Olive Flounder||All year||Sea||24 hours|
|Football Fish||Jan.-Mar., Nov.-Dec.||Sea||4 p.m.-9 a.m.|
|Crucian Carp||All year||River||24 hours|
|Squid||Jan.-Aug. and Dec.||Sea||24 hours|
|Dace||All year||River||4 p.m.-9 a.m.|
|Sea Bass||All year||Sea||24 hours|
|Carp||All year||Pond||24 hours|
|Bluegill||All year||River||9 a.m.-4 p.m.|
|Red Snapper||All year||Sea||24 hours|
Have any questions about fishing in Animal Crossing: New Horizon? Let us know in the comments section!