It's hard not to be amused that Rare built a pirate sandbox with cannons and swords and treasure, and all anyone said after it released was 'OK, but why can't we go fishing?' As of the Sea of Thieves Anniversary Update, we finally can.
Your inventory now contains a fishing rod, and you can find three types of bait in the barrels scattered around islands. But before you head to sea to start your life as a peaceful ex-pirate with a quiet fishing business, you should know how fishing works, because it isn't explained in the game.
Types of fish
There are a total of 50 fish in Sea of Thieves. There are 10 species, and each comes in five different varieties—plus there are larger trophy versions of them. Some fish prefer certain types of bait, too.
Here's a super-helpful graph created by a pirate named Abbie on Twitter—when I'm fishing in Sea of Thieves, I always have Abbie's graphic open on my second monitor. It tells you where you'll find fish and what type of bait to use.
Just a little info graphic I put together to help me fish. Feel free to use it yourselves! 👍☠️ #SeaofTheives #thehunterscall @SeaOfThieves @JoeNeate1 pic.twitter.com/bMfsFaAg91May 1, 2019
Here's a bigger breakdown of all the different fish. With the five variants of each, the first listed is the most common, and the fourth listed is the most rare (and fetches the best price). The fifth is the night variant, so it won't appear during the daytime.
Splashtails: Found everywhere, no bait needed
Umber Splashtail (rarest)
Seafoam Splashtail (night variant)
Pondies: Found in island or fort ponds, no bait needed
Bright Pondie (rarest)
Moonsky Pondie (night variant)
Islehoppers: Found near islands, no bait needed
Stone Islehopper (found at Sailor's Bounty, Cannon Cove, Shipwreck Bay, Shark Bait Cove, Crook's Hollow)
Moss Islehopper (found at Lone Cove, Wanderer's Refuge, Marauder's Arch, Thieves' Haven)
Honey Islehopper (found at Crescent Isle, Kraken's Fall, Sunken Grove, Plunder Valley, Discovery Ridge)
Raven Islehopper (rarest, found at Mermaid's Hideaway, Discovery Ridge, Shark Bait Cove, Wanderers Refuge)
Amethyst Islehopper (night variant, found at Smuggler's Bay, Mermaid's Hideaway, The Crooked Masts, Old Faithful Isle, Snake Island, Devil's Ridge)
(Source for the Islehopper locations)
Plentifins: Found in the Shores of Plenty, use earthworms
Bonedust Plentifin (rarest)
Watery Plentifin (night variant)
Wildsplashes: Found in The Wilds, use earthworms
Muddy Wildsplash (rarest)
Coral Wildsplash (night variant)
Ancientscales: Found in the Ancient Isles, use leeches
Bone Ancientscale (rarest)
Starshine Ancientscale (night variant)
Devilfish: Found in Devil's Roar region, use grubs
Forsaken Devilfish (rarest)
Firelight Devilfish (night variant)
Battlegills: Found near active Skull Forts and Skeleton Ships, use grubs
Sand Battlegill (rarest)
Bittersweet Battlegill (night variant)
Wreckers: Found near shipwrecks, use worms
Blackcloud Wrecker (found during storms at shipwrecks)
Snow Wrecker (rarest)
Moon Wrecker (night variant)
Stormfish: Found in storms, use leeches
Ancient Stormfish (found in Ancient Isles)
Shores Stormfish (found in Shores of Plenty)
Wild Stormfish (found in The Wilds)
Shadow Stormfish (rarest, found in any region)
Twilight Stormfish (night variant, found in any region)
Now that you know what you're looking for and where to find it, here's how to make your first catch:
1. You don't need bait
Bait can help you catch certain kinds of fish in certain areas, but you can cast without bait and still catch a fish.
If you want to use bait, pull out your fishing rod from the radial inventory. Re-open the inventory and press R, then hover over the type of bait you want to use (grubs, leeches, or worms) and take your finger off of R to let the menu close. Don't click the bait or you'll just cast your line without baiting your hook.
2. Cast your line
Stand near the ocean or a pond (no, you can't fish inside your own hold when it's full of water, we tried) and left click to cast. Holding the left mouse button down will cast your line further than just clicking. While your line is cast, you won't be able to move or walk around, so if you want to stop fishing just right click to retrieve your line. If you do that too many times without catching a fish, you'll lose your bait.
3. Wait to hook a fish
My instinct was to right click when a fish came near to hook it, but that'll just recall your line. You actually don't have to do anything. Just wait! Depending on the lighting conditions, you might be able to see a curious fish investigate your hook while you wait. You might also see the fish leap out of the water first. At any rate, they always seem to bite eventually, so just be patient.
4. Reel it in
Once a fish has bitten, don't hold the left mouse button to start reeling it in right away. Your line will break. When the fish is struggling, which it will right away, you'll see lots of splashing around it. Use the ASD keys to counter its left, right, or forward (away from you) movements.
If the fish is going left, hold D.
If the fish is going right, hold A.
If the fish is going away from you, hold S.
You can also move the mouse to swing your rod in various directions. You'll know you're holding the wrong key or pulling in the wrong direction if your rod starts to creak and tremble.
Eventually, the fish will get tired of struggling and stop splashing for a few moments. Your line will go slack, and at that point, you can hold left click to start reeling it in (you can reel a little while it's struggling, but too much and your line breaks).
When the fish wakes up and starts splashing again, stop reeling and go back to countering its movements until it tires again. Repeat this cycle a few times and eventually you'll have a fish!
5. Grab your fishy
In order to take your freshly-caught fish off the hook, you need to have space in your inventory for a food item. Make sure not to press anything else while your fish is on the line: re-casting will make it disappear. If your food inventory is full (it can hold 5 items), you'll need to either eat something by opening the radial menu, or store something in a barrel to make room for your fish (or, you can store the fish in the barrel). Once you've made room, you can take the fish off your line.
Now that you've got a fish, you can cook and eat it. You just need to find a frying pan. There's now a stove and skillet below decks in every pirate ship for cooking. And you'll also find frying pans on most islands, including Outposts, sitting over small campfires. Just approach the pan with a fish in your hand and use the prompt to start cooking.
You'll have to keep an eye on your fish while it's cooking: there's not meter or UI element to tell you when it's done. Take it out too early and there's a chance it'll give you food poisoning (you'll barf). Wait too long and it'll burn. Depending on the light quality, it can be a bit hard to tell when it's cooked just right, but the fish will gradually lose its natural color and turn white (which makes them undercooked), and then brown (cooked).
Other indicators of cooked fish are the fish's eyes. Its pupils will gradually turn completely white. I found it helpful to take out my looking glass (even though I'm standing right in front of the pan) and watch the fish's eyes turn white. Once the fish is done, you can remove it from the pan and eat it.
Another thing to look for is the steam coming off the pan. Initially it'll be thick and white, but as your fish begins to change colors, the steam will become noticeably less visible and thin out, which means your fish is almost done.
Trophy fish are bigger than other fish: if you catch one you'll notice they're so big they have to be held in two hands. Note that they take longer to cook.
Instead of eating your fish, you can sell it at Hunter’s Call posts. Perfectly-cooked fish will fetch you more than raw, undercooked, or burnt ones. Hunter's Call posts can be found at Seaposts, the tiny little outposts in the ocean, and delivering your fish to them will raise your rank with their faction and earn you new titles.
To sell your fish—to even get the prompt to sell it—you'll need to be holding it in your hand, just like when you sell chests and skulls to vendors or deliver any other kind of merchandise.
See this Sea of Thieves Wiki page for a list of prices you'll get for each fish, depending on type and how well you've cooked it.
Fishing from a beach is just lovely, though I have to honestly discourage it. Skeletons have a habit of popping up at the worst times. I had a big, energetic fish hooked while I was standing on a beach, and a couple of powder keg skeletons clawed their way out of the sand behind me. Tyler was swimming nearby and tried to help, but even though I could hear the skeletons approaching, I just didn't want to let that big fish go. It didn't end well for me:
Come to think of it, fishing off the side of your boat isn't particularly safe, either:
We also tried trolling, which is sailing the boat and fishing while it's in motion. We didn't get any bites, but LordzBacon in the comments below says it can work. (We have since caught a few fish while at top speed, even casting off the front of the ship!)
If you have trouble with the Battlegill, which can only be caught near an active skeleton fort or skeleton ship, here's one way to safely do it. Head to a Seapost and do some fishing off its dock. Skeleton ships often sail to Seaports and anchor nearby for a few minutes. Here you can see it the ship floating in the background as I reel in a Battlegill:
That will give you enough time to fish for the battlegill, and the ship won't shoot at you. You aren't guaranteed to catch a battlegill every time, but at least you aren't risking your neck and you can see you don't need to be right alongside a skelly ship to make this fish appear.
You can even collect fish without using a rod. While you're exploring shipwrecks for treasure, don't forget to search the ship's barrels. Inside you'll often find a few fish, sometimes even cooked ones (and often overcooked). Shipwreck barrels are also good spot to find shark meat (and other cookable foods like snake, pork, and chicken) which you can sell at Seaposts. Considering this all goes into your food inventory, you might want to put your current load of food in your ship's storage before taking the plunge.
You definitely can't fish off the side of the ferry of the dead. Yes, I tried. Wouldn't that be cool? To catch a ghost fish and then cook it over the Flame of Fate and eat it? As a ghost? I think so. Alas. Maybe in the next update.