Fishing mini-games have a storied history in RPG/simulator games, particularly in classic Nintendo franchises like Zelda and Animal Crossing. Stardew Valley has taken clear inspiration from this gaming trope, yet has somehow turning the leisurely pastime into a furiously addictive experience with as much depth as the game's crop-tending core gameplay.
With that in mind, IBTimes UK has put together a master guide to help budding fishermen become world-class anglers capable of hooking and landing even the scarcest legendary fish the game hides in its hallowed waters.
The basics of fishing
Getting your first rod
First things first, you are going to need a rod. If you have ever tried catching a live fish with your hands, you'll know they tend to be quite slippery creatures.
Your introduction to fishing comes relatively early on in your quest to cultivate a thriving farmland, courtesy of the wizened old angler Willy who resides in the Pelican Town's appropriately named Fish Shop (no chips here).
Open from 9am to 5pm, Willy's shop is found to the Southeast along the beach. He'll welcome you in every day of the week, except for non-rainy Saturdays as unsurprisingly he is partial to a bit of fishing himself on a bright sunny weekend.
On your first visit, Willy will gift you the first piece of kit needed on the road to fishing super-stardom: the Bamboo Pole.
How to fish
Unlike actual fishing, you do not need bait to hook a fish, so it is time to practice with your newly acquired Bamboo Pole. Find a decent patch along the docks and cast away.
The mini-game that ensues once you get a bite is relatively easy for lower difficulty fish, but the difficulty level will soon spike as you start exploring different fishing spots.
In short, you need to keep the tiny fish icon inside the parameters of the smaller bar you control by clicking the mouse. Doing so will cause the longer bar to rise, and as soon as the gauge hits the top you will fling the fishy into your arms.
Tip: Do not click the mouse, instead click and hold. Judging when the fish will rise or fall is made twice as hard while you maniacally click the mouse.
How to improve your fishing level
Congrats on your first catch! However, netting the most lucrative hauls will be a tad trickier. Thankfully, every fishing expedition will raise your fishing experience so much so that you will eventually level up.
Each new level adds one point to your pole technique as well as several other traits, skills and unlocks. Here is the full list:
Fishing Level Unlocks
Level 1: Nothing. Boo.
Level 2: Bait
Level 3: Crab Pot
Dish O' The Sea
Level 4: Recycling Machine
Level 5: One of two professions -
Fisher – Fish worth 25% more
Trapper – Resources required to craft crab pots reduced
Level 6: Spinner
Trap Bobber (Note: this is the best tackle in the game)
Level 7: Cork Bobber
Level 8: Worm Bin
Level 9: Magnet
Level 10: Skill choice based on profession -
If you chose Fisher:
- Angler – Fish worth 50% more.
- Pirate – Chance to find treasure doubled.
If you chose Trapper:
- Mariner – Crab pots never catch trash.
- Luremaster – Crab pots no longer need to be baited.
Rods and Tackle
To catch the best fish, you have to own the best equipment. Here is the gear you will need, where to get them and the pre-requisites for unlocking them.
Note: You will only be able to use tackle after getting your hands on the illustrious Iridium Rod. Tackle also does not last forever, so keep an eye on the durability bar.
General fishing tips
For some inexplicable reason the Sea Cucumbers do not count towards your fishing level. Those darn cucumbers.
Don't bother with bait
It sounds mad, but bait is pointless when it comes to fishing in Stardew Valley (although it might be worth sticking some on your pole if a legendary pops up just to even the odds a tiny bit). Keep it for your crab pots and focus on better tackle.
What to sell and what to keep
Silver and Gold quality trawls are worth flogging or gifting to your special someone. Standard fish are perfect fertiliser fodder, pick whichever ones are clogging up your inventory space. You will also find that certain quests will request specific fish, having a small stockpile of the rarer specimens can result in quick and easy financial gains.
Keep an eye out for high activity spots
See those weird bubble patches in the water? These are activity spots that yield larger quantities of fish. Aim carefully for these when you are casting.
The fortunate fisherman
Pelican Town's Fortune Teller is a huge asset when playing the RNG game in Stardew Valley. If she ever says "The spirits are very happy today! They will do their best to shower everyone with good fortune," get fishing for the rare catches as you are having a 'lucky day' where the big boys are more willing to take the bait.
The Sea Monster
No, you can't catch the Sea Monster. Stop trying.
The many fish of Stardew Valley
Here it is, the encyclopedia of the Stardew Valley fish split into difficulty categories to make the hunt a little easier (ascending in difficultly level with the easier fish at the bottom of the tables and the tougher catches at the top).
(Click images to expand for more detail)
Like Pokemon, there is a sense of 'gotta catch 'em all' to Stardew Valley fishing – and just like those pesky Pocket Monsters, there are legendary fish too.
These elusive blighters are incredibly rare, can only be caught once and will require a Zen-like level of patience and skill to bring onto the bank. Thankfully, you will know when you have one on the line as a tiny crown will appear on the fish symbol.
It almost goes without saying, but early in the game do not try and net these whoppers. Wait until you have the necessary equipment and fishing level and you won't be snapping your rod in two out of frustration.
The Iridium Rod is a must, as is the Trap Bobber which slows the movement of the fish when you are not reeling. If you are still struggling then grab a Trout Soup (+1 Fishing Skill) or Dish o' the Sea (+3 Fishing Skill) before heading out.
With preparation complete, here are the monsters of the deep:
Special thanks to the Stardew Valley Wiki for images and extra information.