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How to fish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

If you want to get the most out of your island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, you’ll have to learn how to go fishing. Thankfully, Nintendo has made it easy to get your hands on a fishing rod and start reeling in the rarest of creatures. Once you’ve figured out the basics, fishing can quickly become a lucrative way to spend your time in New Horizons.

Further reading

Obtain a fishing rod

Before you get excited about reeling in sharks and coelacanths, you’re going to need a fishing rod. Unlike previous Animal Crossing games, fishing rods and all other tools are destructible — after several dozen uses, the rod will snap and you’ll have to craft a new one. There are a few varieties of fishing rods available in New Horizons, each one stronger than the last. These include:

  • Flimsy Fishing Rod (10 catches)
  • Sturdy Fishing Rod (30 catches)
  • Golden Fishing Rod (90 catches)

If you have the necessary components and DIY recipes, head over to your workbench and begin the crafting process. Anyone who isn’t a fan of DIY projects can usually pick up a fishing rod from Nook’s Cranny for a couple bells.

How to fish

animal crossing new horizons fish august
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Once you’ve nabbed a fishing rod, there’s nothing else you need to do before heading out to your local waterways. However, you can’t just cast your line anywhere and expect fish to come nibbling. Instead, you have to scout out fish individually by looking for a black shadow lurking below the surface. These come in six different sizes, and each size corresponds to a different set of fish. For example, sea bass always have one of the larger shadows in the game, while guppies have one of the smallest.

With your villager facing the shadow, it’s finally time to cast out your line. Navigate to the fishing rod in your inventory, chose the Hold option, and press the A button to cast out your line. You might have to reposition yourself a few times and recast, but eventually the fish will see your bobber and start to nibble on the line. Try to drop the bobber directly in front of your target to give it the best chance of connecting.

With the fish interested in the line, be patient and wait for the bobber to go completely underwater. When this happens, press and hold the A button to reel it in. Press it too slow and the fish will get away. Press it too early and you’ll scare the fish off before it’s fully on the hook. It takes a bit of practice, but before you know it you’ll be a fishing master.

Using fish bait

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Although it’s not required, if you want to speed up the fishing process, it’s worth a few extra minutes to craft some fishing bait. Using this item, you’ll be able to lure fish to your location instead of wandering around your island looking for them. The best way to obtain fish bait is through crafting, and you’ll only need one resource to do so — manila clams.

These can be found beneath the sand along the coast of your island. Look for the water spraying out of the ground, take out your shovel, and dig away. It takes one manila clam to create one piece of fish bait, so we recommend stocking up before heading back to your workbench.

With an inventory full of bait, simply walk up to the body of water you want to fish in, open your backpack, and use your fish bait. This will cause a fish to appear in front of you, making the fishing process much more efficient.

Fishing locations

Much like the real world, fish in Animal Crossing only live in certain habitats. For example, you’ll never find a moray eel lurking about in rivers, and it’s not possible to reel in an arowana while casting into the sea. Here are all the different locations in New Horizons that are home to exclusive fish:

  • Sea
  • Pier
  • River
  • River (Clifftop)
  • River (Mouth)
  • Pond

If you want to fill up your Critterpedia, you’re going to have to cast out your line at each of these locations — otherwise you’ll miss an entire section of the catalog. Once you’ve caught a fish, you can view its individual details, but until then you’ll need to use an online resource to figure out which animals spawn where.

Fishing with your eyes closed

It may sound odd, but many players love to fish with their eyes closed. While fishing, the game gives off both visual and audible cues. We discussed the visual cue already — that is, the bobber going underwater. However, some New Horizons experts believe that the audible cue is a much better way to detect when a fish is hooked on the line. Here’s how it works.

When the bobber goes completely underwater, the game will make a unique splashing sound that is only heard when the fish is hooked on the line. By closing their eyes, players are no longer distracted by the misleading fish bites that cause the bobber to move around, causing them to pull in their line too early. Instead, they simply listen for that distinct splash before holding down A and reeling in their prize. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s certainly worth a shot if you find yourself a bit jumpy while fishing.

Seasons and weather impact fish availability

Animal Crossing rare fish guide
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The last thing you need to know about fishing is that the seasons and weather have a direct impact on which fish can be found around your island. During rainstorms, rare fish such as the coelacanth are much more likely to be found along your shores. The same is true for many other species — but we’ll let you discover those secrets on your own!

Every month, a new set of fish will arrive on your island. This means that even if you think you’ve caught everything lurking around in the month of August, September will bring a bunch more that you probably haven’t come across yet. At the same time, certain fish will leave at the end of every month, making it a race against the clock to catch them all before they head to more suitable waters.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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