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How to fish in Skyrim Anniversary Edition

Skyrim anniversary edition fishing
(Image credit: Bethesda)

Skyrim fishing is a new mechanic, added to the Skyrim Anniversary Edition as part of the Creation Club input, that allows you to catch a lot of new fish and generally makes fishing a little more classy than just diving into rivers and snatching at trout like a frustrated bear (though you can still do that). However, the Skyrim fishing mechanic isn't entirely clear, and requires special equipment and knowledge that we'll outline in our full Skyrim Anniversary Edition fishing guide below.

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How to fish in Skyrim

(Image: © Bethesda)

The fishing mechanic in Skyrim Anniversary Edition is a fairly contextual one, based around specific items, locations and circumstances. You can't just walk up to any body of water and go to work - instead, you need to have the right items and go to work accordingly. We'll lay out the fishing mechanic below and the processes you need to go through.

  1. Acquire a Fishing Rod. We'll go into more detail about how to get these below.
  2. Equip the Fishing Rod in your right hand from your inventory (it'll be listed as a weapon)
  3. Now you need to find the "fishing supplies" interactable object. These aren't actually a single object, but usually are presented as baskets of bait, caught fish and nets kind of… collected together into a single mass (we've put a picture of it above). You can usually find them on docks, piers and in areas where water and civilization meet.
  4. With the rod equipped, interact with the fishing supplies. Your Dragonborn will automatically turn towards the water and cast their rod with bait attached.
  5. Now you need to wait to trigger the Reel button (which will be presented) when the rod twitches significantly. It's worth keeping in mind that it should be a proper, high-strength snap that bends the pole, as what Skyrim considers a minor tweak is still pretty strong.
  6. If you time it right, the rod immediately pulls in the fish; no balancing line tension against carp exhaustion in this fishing minigame. The fish will automatically go into your inventory and you'll have the option to cast again. 
  7. If you cast the rod and there's no general splashes in the water, you're fishing in an area that currently doesn't have any fish - reel in the rod and find somewhere else.
  8. There's also a chance - an annoyingly high chance - that even if done successfully, you won't get a fish, instead getting a bit of low-tier equipment or a useless misc-type item pulled out of the water. We've caught Iron Boots, Empty Wine Bottles, Lanterns, Tongs and Flagons this way - and all these consecutively, without a single fish snagged between them.

It's worth mentioning that you can still engage with Skyrim's original form of fishing - namely, diving into water and just grabbing at any fish within arm's distance. However, not all fish can be obtained this way, and some are only obtainable via the fishing mechanic.

How to get a fishing rod in Skyrim

(Image: © Bethesda)

To get a Fishing Rod in Skyrim isn't too difficult, as there are numerous ones lying about the game in much the same way as you can find any common object, like oversized cheese wheels or dragons attacking Winterhold college. 

Here are some easy ways to get a Fishing Rod:

  • Check local merchants and vendors, there's a chance they'll be selling them.
  • Look around Fishing Supplies points to see if there's a rod lying next to them (there often is)
  • Go to the Riften Fishery (just outside the West wall of Riften itself). Not only will this act as a hotspot for many fishing quests, there's a Fishing Rod on the dock outside and several you can easily steal in the building.

Where to find new fish in Skyrim

Skyrim anniversary edition fishing

(Image credit: Bethesda)

Aside from the six existing fish from the base version of Skyrim, players can now find twenty new ones, some of which can be caught by hand and some of which require using the rod. Fish are tied to certain types of areas - freshwater, saltwater, lakes, rivers, etc - and can be affected by time of day, with generally more fish appearing at dawn and dusk. We're still determining all the kinds of fish available, but it's worth reading any books that mention fishing terminology - some of them will detail where and when certain fish can be found. You can also find more by pursuing the game's fishing quests, and speaking of…

Skyrim Fishing quest starting point

Skyrim anniversary edition fishing

(Image credit: Bethesda)

The Riften Fishery mentioned above acts as the hub for all fishing-related Skyrim quests and sidequests, with characters like Swims-In-Deep-Water, Hulda and Viriya who will regularly give out literal bounties on certain fish they want caught. These bounties also come with details on where to catch those very fish, so by progressing through the Fishery's job requests, you can find a whole range of catch locations and fishing hotspots to fill out your own personal angler's guidebook. In fact, this location will be highlighted by catching any fish in the game, which will start the Angler Acquaintances quest which leads you to the Riften Fishery itself.

But for those who can't find the Fishery, simply head to Riften on the southeast corner of the map, but rather than going into the city itself, circle around the West side to the docks to find a building on raised stilts above the water. This building also has several books inside that'll detail where to find certain fish types, so be sure to check those out.

Joel Franey

Joel Franey is a writer, journalist and podcaster with a Masters from Sussex University, none of which has actually equipped him for anything in real life. Consequently he chooses to spend his time playing video games, reading old books and ingesting chemically-risky levels of caffeine. He is a firm believer that the vast majority of games would be improved by adding a grappling hook, and if they already have one, they should add another just to be safe. You can find old work of his at USgamer, Gfinity, Eurogamer and more besides.