Fishing 101 - The Basics

From the first days of World of Warcraft there was fishing. Max was there, Fishing Pole in hand, slaying the big ones as he dreamt of a rematch with Ragnaros....

Ok, so, it wasnt exactly like that but fishing HAS been around since the beginning of WoW.

You may want to note this site makes a pretty broad generalization about how most players approach fishing in WoW, which is:

Nobody trains their fishing while they are leveling - ever

The reason we assume this is pretty obvious. Unlike most other professions, it offers the player little in exchange for time lost in leveling. Throughout this site our assumption is that you are a max-level player leveling fishing and/or completing fishing quests and achievements.

Getting Started
Once you have reached level 5, to start fishing as a profession all you need to do is visit a trainer. Here's a link to an Up-to-date list of Trainers.   I also have a page with information about Training Fishing in case it is helpful. At level 1 fishing you can fish anywhere in Azeroth. Yes, anywhere.

How to Catch a Fish - or Something
To fish, just do the following:
  1. Stand on dry land, close to and facing the water
  2. (Optional) Equip a fishing pole in your main hand. It will replace your equipped weapon
  3. (Advisable) Open your spell book and find the General page. Locate the fishing icon and drag it onto the action bar
  4. Cast by clicking on the fishing icon
  5. Your bobber should land in the water and float about
  6. When the bobber bounces and splashes in the water, right-click the bobber to see what you caught
You will find a pretty good leveling strategy in my Leveling Fishing section.

What about a Fishing Pole?
You can fish with or without a pole. If you don't equip a fishing pole, when you cast your player will automatically use a stick. If you are on a PVP realm, it's not a bad idea to leave your weapon(s) equipped, since you look like an easy target. I'm a hunter, so I always drop a trap in hopes some fool wanders by.

If you are fishing in a pool, your chances to catch a fish are just as good with a stick or a fishing pole.

Even though you can fish without a pole, there are good reasons to consider getting and using the best one available. If you are fishing open water your chance to catch fish is dependent upon your fishing skill. Some fishing poles, and other equipment, increase your skill level. The higher your level, the lower then chance you will catch junk. You can learn more about equipment on my Fishing Equipment page.

In all zones except Pandaria, when you fish in open water, your skill level determines your chances of catching junk instead of fish. Each area has a different no-junk level. As mentiopned earlier, one way to avoid catching junk is to fish in nodes - or pools as they are more popularily referred to. In a pool you will always catch (at least) whatever is in that pool.

You can also avoid catching junk by fishing in Pandaria. There you will at least catch Golden Carp on each cast. Once your level is above the no-junk level for the area you are in, you have a chance to catch other fish.

If you are leveling, you don't need to be concerned too much about whether you are catching junk or fish. Whatever you catch, your chance to up your skill is the same.

Finally, there is actually an achievement to reward your junk-fishing prowess. The Scavenger achievement makes catching junk.... a goal! For more on fishing achievements see my Fishing Achievements page.