How to fish in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

A khajiit fisherman by a pond near Riverwood in Skyrim.

Screenshot: Bethesda / Kotaku

Fishing in video games is difficult to nail. Many games offer such a mechanic, but few actually do. Personally, I can not even remember a single fishing mini-game I have wrestled enjoyment out of in the last few years. Pokémon? Boring, annoying. Fire emblem: Three houses? Zzzzz. Hades? The only thing that looks like a bug in an otherwise perfect roguelike.

Ubisoft card games are particularly fierce when it comes to fishing inclusion, often because they try to approach the real frustrations, such as having the patience that comes with fishing. The last few years Assassin’s Creed Valhalla contained a requirement to test its aggravating mini-games before the story went on. Recently one Far Cry 6 side-quest gave me the task of catching some fish “to relax”, as if that’s what someone is playing Far Cry to. Like a clockwork, I received a call in the game from the quest giver, an alternate medicine guru, every 15 minutes or so urging me to return. Eventually, I posted several video tutorials to learn what to do, just to get the quack to shut it down.

And for the fifth anniversary of Skyrims five-year anniversary edition, Bethesda decided to add an insignificant mini-game where you throw a flimsy string into a pool of water and sometimes get a salty cooking ingredient in return if you’re patient. Although it’s been a while since I’ve played Skyrim, I was curious. Hi, maybe this would be the one that finally changed my long-standing opinion.

How to fish in Skyrim

To clear up the confusion: Although fish have always existed in Skyrim, fishing mini-games are fresh, to have first announced during a stream was broadcast at this year’s Quakecon. You also do not need this week’s brand new Anniversary edition to fish in Skyrim. It is included in it, yes – as one of the essentials new features along with a survival mode—but also in the 2016s Special edition using a free update (about two dozen GB, at least on the Xbox). It’s part of the game as one of four free mods from “creative club”—Basically a storefront for microtransactions. At least on the Xbox where I play, if your game is completely up to date, you will automatically have it installed in your game.

Of course, you need to find a fishing rod before you can catch any fish. There is one (damage: 4, weight: 3, value: 10) on a beach just down the hill from the Guardian Stones, a stone’s throw down the river from the Riverwood. You will see it propped up against a boulder next to a temporary camp.

A map of Skyrim shows where to find the fishing rod near Riverwood.

If you’ve lost your way, go here.
Screenshot: Bethesda / Kotaku

Can not find it? You can also make one yourself. Go to any forge. (There’s one right at the entrance to Riverwood, which, bonus, is relatively close to a fishing spot.) For an iron bar and a firewood – a seemingly clean-of-the-mill resource that I had a shockingly difficult time finding day – you can make yourself a shiny new fishing rod.

The catch with fishing in Skyrim is that you can not just do it with any body of water you find. You need to find predetermined positions with “fish supplies”, more or less boxes of bait lying around. Interact with these kickstarter fishing mini-game. (There is one right next to the fishing rod you can find on the beach.)

So is it fun to fish in Skyrim?

Fishing in Skyrim has hardly any wheel interaction and plays mostly like gaming’s simplest fishing mini-games. You start with your line already cast. When your rod shakes, press A to rewind whatever hook you have. That is it. You have no freedom to move around the bar. You can not choose between different types of bait. You can not adjust your line or grip, although there are apparently more advanced fishing rods that improve your chances of a catch. The whole thing is very rudimentary, certainly not on par with anything you would expect from Skyrim.

You can also not activate the third-person perspective. You should probably just use your imagination to see what my khajiit, Catman, looks like.

It’s not easy to say Skyrim is one of the most influential role-playing games ever. In fact, just jump in for an hour to check this out fus ro dum function made me flood in the pleasant nostalgia for how damn good this game is. It was quickly followed by the stomach-churning feeling that I was probably going to burn 100 hours through again.Skyrim is a bona fide tour de force, a masterpiece to fill a game with stuff without letting it be inflated or evading a credible sense of place. That one of the highlights this year is a mini-game where you press one button at the right time is a failure. I mean, really, fishing is thinner than horse armor.

But I gave it a good go anyway. I caught a spadefish and was briefly told to go all the way to the Rift for a mission called “Angler Acquaintances.” (I have not reached the Rift on this saved file and will probably not do so for some time.) I caught a riverbetty and some other fish by name. I caught something called a pogfish, which I’m pretty sure is an internet joke that sailed over my head.

Then I washed a pair of leather boots in. This is fishing for you.

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