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How to fish in Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley is jam-packed with ways to pass the time, but fishing is far and away one of the most popular. Not only is it a fun diversion from the usual farming and foraging, but fishing is also a great way to earn a bit of cash and build up your agricultural empire.

However, fishing in Stardew Valley isn’t as simple as you’d think. From difficult minigames and fishing zones to skill levels and fishing locations, there’s a lot of different content to master. Here’s everything you need to know about fishing in Stardew Valley before heading out to the local waterways.

Further reading

How to fish in Stardew Valley: The basics

While actually landing a fish might be difficult, the basics of fishing in Stardew Valley are easy to understand. Simply equip a fishing rod from your inventory and head over to any body of water. Once there, press and hold the Use Tool button to bring up a strength meter. This indicates how far into the water you’ll cast your line — just release the button to finish your cast.

With your bobber in the water, it’s time to wait for a fish to bite. When one does, you’ll see the bobber shake and an exclamation point appear above your character. Once again, press the Use Tool button, beginning the process of reeling in your catch.

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This is where fishing in Stardew Valley gets difficult. In order to have a successful catch, you need to fill up the progress bar located on the right-hand side of the screen. To the left of this, you’ll see another gauge — on it is a fish and a small green bar. Your goal is to keep the fish inside this green bar to slowly fill up the progress bar. If the fish slips out of the green bar, the progress bar will shrink.

A simple trick to help with this minigame is to never stop tapping the Use Tool button. If you stop pressing the button, it’ll take significantly longer to ramp up the speed of your green bar, making it difficult to keep pace with a constantly moving fish. You’ll also want to do everything in your power to keep the fish in the middle of the bar — this way, you can easily recover regardless of where the fish moves. With a bit of practice, you’ll soon become a master of this tricky technique.

Fish availability in Stardew Valley

While you can go fishing in nearly all bodies of water, not all fish can be found at all locations. Even the time of year plays a role in which fish you’ll find around your farm. Here are a few things that impact the type of fish you’re likely to catch:

  • Time of year
  • Time of day
  • Type of weather
  • Body of water location

Fishing zones in Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley uses a unique fishing zones concept to map out all the tiles in every single body of water. The system runs from zone 0 to zone 5, and the higher the zone, the better the fishing results. If your bobber lands three tiles away from the shore, it’s in zone 3. If it lands four tiles away, it’s in zone 4 — so on and so forth.  Landing in a higher fishing zone will increase the likelihood of your fish being of better quality. Plus, you’re less likely to catch trash, and you’re more likely to find rare fish.

In fact, some fish can only be found in specific zones — be sure to do your research if you’re hoping to reel in certain Legendary Fish.

Stardew Valley
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Fishing skill in Stardew Valley

No doubt about it, fishing is hard to master in Stardew Valley. Thankfully, it tends to get easier as time goes on — and not just because you’re mastering the challenging minigame. Catching fish will grant you experience points, slowly leveling up your fishing level. Improving your level will grant you access to better rods, improve the size of the green bar while reeling in a fish, and give you the ability to craft useful new gear.

The amount of experience you gain per fish depends on its quality and difficulty. The formula Stardew Valley uses to determine exact experience gain is a bit complex, but know that you’ll want to shoot for the highest-quality, most difficult fish you can consistently catch.

Other tips and tricks

There’s a lot more to fishing than meets the eye — but follow a few of these tips, and you’ll be a master angler in no time:

  • Use bait to improve your chances of a fish bite.
  • Upgrade to the most powerful rod available for your level as soon as possible.
  • Use different types of tackle as soon as you unlock the Iridium Rod.
  • Cast your line as far from the shore as possible.
  • Consume food that boosts your fishing level.
  • Cast your line into bubbles whenever possible.
  • Try fishing at all available locations, as some are more efficient than others.
  • Enjoy the hunt — with over 50 fish to discover, there are plenty of secrets hiding below the surface. Fishing at different times of day and during different times of the year are the keys to reeling in a variety of fish.

Most of all — be patient. It’ll take some time to master the difficult fishing minigame in Stardew Valley, but it’s well worth the effort. Some of the rarest fish sell for incredible amounts of cash, and once you’ve purchased a fishing rod, it’s a low-cost way to quickly fill up your bank account.

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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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