DayZ diary: the fishing trap

Part three: the bait

This is quite a fishing trip so far, huh? I spawn quite close to Krasno this time, and the impulse to find a gun—any gun—and return to the nearby airfield to put some holes in those two masked dickweeds is almost overpowering. I remind myself: you're here to fish . With great effort, I turn and head west through town, though I do stop at the police station just in case there's a firearm there. There isn't.

I'm stopped a few minutes later by someone else with a gun, though he tells me not to worry, he's not going to hurt me, and we chat for a bit, just long enough for his friend, who I didn't see, to run up behind me and hit me in the back of the head with an axe. Clever girl. Not so clever me.

Part four: the snag

I'm starting to feel like a fish myself, a fish in a very small barrel. I've found myself a Mosin and a long range scope this time out. Though I have no ammo, and I'm not here to shoot anyone, I can at least use the scope as binoculars to scout for trouble ahead. I've been raiding Cernaya Polana, dodging the extremely high population of zombies the town always seems to feature, while listening to the distant booms of Svetlo's constantly exploding gas station. I've also found some nice Gorka camo clothing in the fire station, but no backpack.

I reach the train tracks and begin following them west, keeping an eye on the recently added and heavily trafficked town of Novodmitrovsk as I run. I hear some distant shots, so I peer through my scope, eventually spotting one player running through Novo's streets. It suddenly occurs to me that aiming a rifle at someone is a good way to get shot (though, clearly, not aiming a rifle at someone is also a good way to get shot) so I put it away. Well, I try to put it away.

There's occasionally an issue in DayZ, caused by lag, where player actions are delayed for a few seconds. My character won't put away his gun no matter how insistently I tap the key, so I decide to just run away. Once I've started moving, however, I finally see my guy shoulder his Mosin, though he immediately takes it back out again. Since I'm already running, this causes my character to skate forward as if on ice, and I'm unable to stop him. He slides forward about ten feet, off the edge of a rock, falls about six feet to the ground, and promptly dies. Ah yes, the third threat of DayZ: falling a few short feet. It's often fatal.

Part five: the lure

As if mocking my efforts to fish, the game spawns me north of Svetlojarsk near a small, recently-added fishing village called Dobroe. I loot it, looking longingly at its little pond that would be perfect for fishing, then skirt around Novo to the north, practically off the edge of the map. I'm doing okay: I again have a mountain backpack, a gas canister, and another Mosin (no ammo, though) which I drop when I find another crossbow (still no arrows). I chow down on some apples I find under a tree, I find another hoe to dig up some worms, I find an axe to hack up a new fishing pole with, and I even find a box of 83 matches. I accidentally come down from the hills into the western end of Novo—I keep forgetting just how long this city is—and cautiously raid few outlying buildings.

Outside a store, someone shouts at me to put my hands up. I can just see him inside for a moment before he crouches behind a counter. Then he abruptly pops up, firing three shots at me with a pistol. He misses, somehow, all three times, though my real chest almost explodes from the shock. He then yells at me to leave or he'll kill me (translation: he's out of ammo). When my heart restarts, I head west, spotting another pond near the road that would be perfect for fishing, if only I had the rest of what I needed: at this point, just a rope, and a lure.

Along the north road I find a pickaxe and chisel some stones from a boulder. You can use eight of these stones to improve a campfire, though I only have enough room to carry two. I eventually come upon the long row of garages again, finding all of them closed. I open the first, find some rope, attach it to my pole, and pause to eat some collected apples and drink some water. When I come back out, I notice something alarming: the rest of the garage doors are now open. Someone else is here, looting the same row from the opposite direction. He's now standing in the garage next to the one I've been having lunch in.

I peek my head in, wave, and say hello. He has no microphone, and as horrifying as players with mics can be, the silent ones are infinitely worse. Who the hell knows what's going on in their heads? This fellow is typing, though. "Hello."

I tell him I'm no threat, I don't have a gun, I'm just looking to do a little fishing, and all I'm missing is a lure. He stares at me a moment, then looks down to the ground at his feet. A moment later, a fishing lure appears on the floor in front of him. "here take it," he types.

I edge slowly into the garage where he stands, silent and staring, his Mosin still in his gloved hands. I pick up the lure, thank him profusely (he types "np"), ask if he needs anything ("uhh nah") wish him a safe adventure, and then I back carefully out of the garage. I hold up one hand and lean side-to-side to make it wave. Then I run like hell. There's no shot, there's no trick, there's no catch. He was just a good guy helping out a fellow lone wolf. Thanks, stranger.

Part six: the bite

I'm back where I was earlier, in the northwest, thinking again about that pond down near Vybor. This time, though, I give the bus depot and Lopatino a wide berth to the west, further than most players bother to tread. I spot a deer, though in all this time I haven't found a single arrow for my crossbow, and arrows can't yet be crafted. Chasing deer with an axe doesn't really feel like hunting but I do it for a bit anyway, mostly because I'm stalling.

I need to push east toward that pond outside Vybor, but I'm desperately worried about being shot again. Eventually, I creep in, moving from treeline to treeline, scanning for players. I've still not found binoculars so I can't scout properly, and red chains are appearing on my screen every few minutes (an indication of desync, often caused by proximity to other players).

So, I'm thrilled to stumble across a tiny little pond I didn't know was there, north of Pustoshka, surrounded by trees. I'm still close to Vybor, but not as close as I was planning to get. I edge up to the pond, cast my line, and check the bait. I check the bait again. And again. I check the bait about forty times. Nothing.

I reposition, cast my line again, and check my bait a couple dozen more times. Finally, a notification: "There is some movement near the bait." Then, "Something is cautiously examining the bait." Something besides me, that is. A notification in red: something has bitten the bait! I pull out the line and find I've caught my first fish, a carp. At this point, the little fish is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in DayZ.

As I do on the rare occasions when something good happens to me in DayZ, I run like hell, my heart in my throat. Away from Vybor and Pusto, west into the trees, where I finally stop, take a long look around, and use my axe to chop a tree down. I combine the resulting sticks with a bandage (you can also use paper or rags) to produce a campfire kit, attach a piece of firewood (from the downed tree), and ignite it with my matches. Lighting a fire can be difficult in high winds or rain, but the weather is perfect and it lights on the first try.

Time to cook my catch! I add my stones to the fireplace, and use my machete (a hunting knife or kitchen knife also work) to filet my fish, then drop the filets into the fire.

I wait, a long while, but a nice while, a peaceful while, for my fish to go from raw to cooked. All that's missing is one of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.'s guitars, though that would make music, which would attract players, who would shoot me in the face or axe me in the head. My fish finally cooks, and I pull them from the fire before they go from cooked to burnt (it doesn't take long for that to happen, same as in real life). Chow time! My fish tastes like victory and fish.

I'd planned to cover hunting today as well, but you see how even a simple fishing trip can go awry in DayZ. Luckily, there's another form of hunting, where you head to the airfield and look for people wearing clown masks. They don't cook up so well, but on the other hand, you don't need a lot of gear to bag one.

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.