Your Complete Guide To Fishing In Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Your Complete Guide To Fishing In Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Animal Crossing: New Horizons relies on several basic mechanics to help you make money and enjoy your paradise island. One of these mechanics is fishing, which allows players to catch unique species like Goldfish, Bass, and Salmon!

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Some players fish for the money, others do it to complete their museum or their personal collection, and still others just find it peaceful! In this article, we’ll explain how the fishing mechanic works so that you won’t lag behind on your island.

Updated on April 11, 2023, by Gabrielle Huston: We’ve added details about the shadow sizes of fish to help you catch what you’re looking for!

How To Unlock Fishing

animal crossing new horizons - player completing the diy workshop

To unlock fishing right after starting your island, you’ll need to complete Tom Nook’s DIY Workshop. He’ll prompt you to make your own Fishing Pole, which you can then use anywhere on your island!

Fishing Rod Types And How To Get Them

animal crossing new horizons - player fishing in the sea

There are two ways that you can obtain Fishing Rods.

Your first and simplest option is to purchase them from Timmy and Tommy at Nook’s Cranny. They will sell Flimsy Fishing Rods and, depending on the day, one of three unique types of regular Fishing Rods: Fish Fishing Rods, Outdoorsy Fishing Rods, and Colourful Fishing Rods. Those three unique Fishing Rods can’t be crafted by you.

Your second option to is to craft your own Fishing Rods! It will cost less, but it will also take a bit more time since you need to gather the materials.



How To Get The Recipe

Crafting Materials Needed

Flimsy Fishing Rod


Tom Nook’s DIY Workshop

Fishing Rod


By purchasing “Pretty Good Tools Recipes” from the Nook Stop in Resident Services for 3,000 Nook Miles

  • x1 Flimsy Fishing Rod
  • x1 Iron Nugget

Golden Fishing Rod


Earned after catching every fish species at least once

  • x1 Fishing Rod
  • x1 Gold Nugget

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How To Catch Fish With A Fishing Rod

Animal Crossing New Horizons - Player Fishing In A River

Once you’re fully equipped with a Fishing Rod, it’s time to put it to good use!

Start by going out and finding a body of water. That could be a river, the ocean, a lake or pond – anything that’s big enough for fish to spawn in. You can’t just walk up to any waterway and cast your line, though – you need to look for the fish’s shadow in the water. It will look like a teardrop shape.

Once you’ve found a fish, cast your line so that the bobber is in front of the fish’s face. It may take a few tries but, eventually, the fish will notice your bobber. It will tap the bobber a couple of times, but don’t get overeager! You want to start pulling on your line when the bobber goes fully underwater. Doing it too early (or too late) will cause the fish to flee.

If you’ve done everything right, you’ll pull a fish (or, on occasion, some trash) out of the water!

Fish Types, Availability, And Shadow Sizes

animal crossing new horizons - player with an oarfish

There are a total of 80 species of fish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

The fish you catch will be determined based on a few key factors:

You chose this when you first started your island. Most players pick the same hemisphere as they live in in real life. It will either be the Northern or Southern Hemisphere.

The season isn’t actually the important thing; it’s the month! Fish can appear during some summer months and not during others.

The most common fishing locations include: River, Pond, and Sea. Less common fishing locations are more specific, including: River (Clifftop), River (Mouth), Sea (while Raining) and Pier (the brown dock on your beach).

There are some fish who have pretty self-explanatory times, like that you catch them at night, but all fish actually have specific hours they appear. They’re not uniform – for example, some fish are out from 9pm until 4am, while other nighttime fish may emerge in the afternoon at 4pm and stay out until 9am.

When you’ve found the teardrop shadow of a fish, you’ll notice that it falls into one of eight sizes, listed below. The shadows are hard to differentiate, especially around the middle of the size spectrum but, with enough practice, you’ll eventually develop an intuition for it.

Size 1


Like a Goldfish, Clown Fish, or Bitterling

Size 2


Like a Ranchu Goldfish, Loach, or Mitten Crab

Size 3

Medium Small

Like a Sweetfish, Tilapia, or Squid

Size 4

Medium Large

Like a Carp, Catfish, or Koi

Size 5


Like a Mahi-mahi, Giant Trevally, or Gar

Size 6


Like a Coelacanth, Sturgeon, or Oarfish


Unique, Extra Long & Thin

Like a Ribbon Eel or Moray Eel


Unique, Triangular Fin Sticking Out Of The Water

Like a Hammerhead Shark or Ocean Sunfish

Alphabetical List Of All Fish With Their Location, Availability, And Size

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Fish Bait: What It Is, How To Get It, And Why You’d Use It

animal crossing new horizons - player with manila clam

Fish bait is a special type of item that you can craft in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

You’ll obtain the recipe for bait the first time that you dig up a manila clam. Manila clams are hiding underground on your beach! Look out for dark little circles that appear and spew water, then dig there with a shovel!

To craft bait, take your manila clams to a DIY workbench. One bag of bait takes one manila clam to craft.

animal crossing new horizons - player using fish bait

Once you have some bait, walk up to any body of water that can spawn fish and click on the bait in your inventory. It will prompt you to ‘Scatter Food’ and, once you do that, fish will appear in the water! This is useful if you’re looking for a fish that only spawns in a particular pool of water or at a particular time of day – it means you don’t need to run around the island, crossing your fingers that the fish will spawn.

What To Do With Your Fish

Selling Fish To Timmy And Tommy

animal crossing new horizons - player in front of nook's cranny

The simplest thing to do with your fish is to sell them! Timmy and Tommy will purchase any fish (or garbage) that you catch.

Selling any fish will earn you a significant pocketful of Bells, but Timmy and Tommy will pay more for rarer fish.

Donating Fish To Blathers

animal crossing new horizons - player in fish part of museum

You can build a Museum on your island by donating creatures you catch, like Fish, to Blathers. At first, you’ll be giving them to Tom Nook to send along to Blathers but, eventually, he’ll move to the island himself!

Each species of fish can only be donated once. If one player on the island has already donated a Goldfish, another player on the same island can’t donate a Goldfish. It will go on display in the Museum and the date that it was donated, and the player that donated it, will be added to its name tag.

Selling Fish To C.J.

animal crossing new horizons - player with CJ

C.J. is a unique NPC who may visit your island during the week. He’s a fishing enthusiast who is trying to blow up on social media.

If he’s on your island, C.J. will purchase your fish for 150{95221ed7c1b18b55d17ae0bef2e0eaa704ccc2431c5b12f9d786c88d1acb538d} of their usual price (which you’d get if you sold them to Timmy and Tommy). Before C.J. will offer to buy your fish, though, you need to complete a fishing challenge for him, which he’ll provide the rules for each time he appears.

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Fishing Tourneys

animal crossing new horizons - player with CJ during fishing tourney

Fishing Tournaments are special events hosted by C.J. on your island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. They are held on the second Saturday of January, April, July, and October.

During the Tourneys, you’ll be prompted to catch as many fish as you can in a 3-minute period.

C.J. will purchase the fish you catch as he usually does, at the same markup rate of 150{95221ed7c1b18b55d17ae0bef2e0eaa704ccc2431c5b12f9d786c88d1acb538d}. This helps to offset the price of participating in the Tourney (which is 500 Bells per entry, except the first time).

animal crossing new horizons - player fishing during fishing tourney

You’ll earn points based on the number of fish you catch. These are the scoring rules:

  • Every fish a player catches will count as 1 point
  • If a player catches at least 3 fish, they receive 2 additional points
  • If a player is fishing on another player’s island, every fish they catch counts as 2 points
  • If multiple players are fishing on one island and at least 5 fish are caught between all of them, every player will receive 5 additional points

animal crossing new horizons - player talking to cj

These points can be turned in to C.J. outside Resident Services for unique, fish-related items! You will also earn trophies based on how many points you accrue (with points carrying over between tournaments):

  • 100 points: Bronze Fishing Tourney Trophy
  • 200 points: Silver Fishing Tourney Trophy
  • 300 points: Gold Fishing Tourney Trophy

Note that it is completely fine to spend your points on fishing items; he’s just counting the number of points you’ve gotten altogether. If you earned a trophy, C.J. will mail it to you the day after the Tourney.

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