A Day in the Life of an Elder Scrolls Online Fisherman

Fishing is one of those pastimes in video games that few people take seriously. It’s usually time consuming, tedious, and with little reward. In Elder Scrolls Online, its no exception, but I’m giving it a crack anyway!

(Note: This is a brief detour from our regularly scheduled programming discussion.)

How it all works

Each of the major zones in Elder Scrolls Online contains 12 rare fish - 8 ‘normal rare’ fish (denoted with a green name) and 4 ‘very rare’ fish (denoted with a blue name). There are nineteen major zones in the game - five story zones for each of the three factions, one further zone for the main quest, two add-on zones, and the PVP zone, each with twelve different rare fish. There are also three ‘starter zones’, one for each of the factions, that contain one rare fish each. Added up, that’s a lot of fishing.

In each major zone, the twelve fish are split into up to four water types - ocean water, lake water, river water, and foul water. Each of the fish is found in only one type of water, and while it’s usually pretty obvious what type of water you’re at, sometimes the game just likes to trick you. (River spots in the Rift zone, I’m looking at you.)

There are eight types of bait in the game, one ‘normal’ bait and one ‘good’ bait for each type of water. There’s no restriction on which type of bait gets used with which type of water, but only the right types for each water type have a chance of netting you one of the rare fish. With me so far?

So if you have the right type of bait, at the right type of water, you might get a rare fish. But if you don’t, you’ll just get one of the normal fish, which can be filleted to make items for cooking (and sometimes rewards you with a Perfect Roe, the most expensive crafting material in the game). Or you might get a Wet Gunny Sack which usually has some type of crafting material in it. Or you might get a different type of bait.

Get to the action already!

Step 1: Buy bait. Lots and lots of bait.

The normal bait - Crawlers, Insect Parts, Worms, and Guts - can be found everywhere around the world. The rare bait - Shad, Fish Roe, Chub, and Minnows - can only be found by (you guessed it) fishing!

I don’t have the patience to fish to get bait to keep fishing, so I buy rare bait in bulk wherever I can find other players selling it in guild stores. Today I spent 50,000 gold on (a little overpriced) bait alone because I found one seller with a lot of it, and it’s not that common to find.

So, armed to the teeth with well over a thousand creepy-crawlies in my inventory to lure in unsuspecting fish, I decided to go fishing.

Step 2: A lot of patience (and some conf videos to keep me amused)

Today’s target was the zone of Grahtwood - the second zone for the Aldmeri Dominion. The map looks like this:

Image courtesy of UESP.net.
Image courtesy of UESP.net.

The whole coastline along the south side counts as ocean water. There’s a lot of lakes, especially around the capital of Elden Root in the middle. There’s plenty of smaller rivers around, and the chunk of water in the north-west corner of the map all counts as foul water (treachery is afoot with necromancy around there).

I decided yesterday as I arrived in Grahtwood to chronicle just how rare the rare fish were, how long it took me to find them, and what kind of rewards I got for it. And I finally caught the last rare fish this evening, just before writing this tale, so here it goes.

I caught a total of 36 rare fish, including duplicates, before finally catching the twelfth rare fish and getting the Grahtwood Fisherman achievement. In no particular order, I caught:

  • 1x Bilious Catfish
  • 10x Devil Ray
  • 4x Dreughfish
  • 1x Greater Fangfin
  • 1x Hag Sucker
  • 1x Koi
  • 1x Magrave Shark (this one took the longest to find)
  • 11x Mojarra
  • 2x Snapper Eel
  • 1x Stickleback
  • 1x Swamp Eel
  • 2x Tiger Perch

I also caught a lot of normal fish.

  • 138x Dhufish
  • 137x Longfin
  • 6x River Betty
  • 9x Salmon
  • 44x Silverside Perch
  • 20x Slaughterfish
  • 27x Spadetail
  • 27x Trodh

as well as:

  • 26x Wet Gunny Sack

At least I should get a lot of Perfect Roe to sell for megabucks, from filleting all my fish, right? Perfect Roe has been my main source of income since completing most of the quests in the game - each Perfect Roe at the moment sells for about 11,500 gold.

So I filleted the stacks of fish I had caught. And I filleted. And I filleted some more.

The average rate of receiving a Perfect Roe is supposedly about 1 in 65.

And from my 408 filletable fish, I received…

TWO Perfect Roe.

Fishing really is tedious, time consuming, and gives you very little reward.

But at least I only have eleven major zones to go!