Elder Scrolls Online - A Guide to Fishing

For those of us who like collecting and harvesting, ESO has added the option to fish! Here are some guidelines for harvesting bait and landing the most common types of fish.

For those of you who enjoy the simpler things in life when taking a little downtime from questing and skyshard-hunting, The Elder Scrolls Online has added the option to fish!

Unlike previous iterations of the once-single-player-only series, catching fish in ESO is no longer like picking flowers (as in Skyrim) or a hack-and-slash duel to the death (as in Oblivion with the slaughterfish). Now it is an actual activity you can participate in with your friends in a bid to catch the biggest, rarest fish.

And all you need is bait. 

While fishing now requires the use of a fishing pole and a little patience, you won't need gold to get them - the moment you create your character, he or she is already equipped with a starter fishing pole. 

Why would you want to fish?

The first reason is because it is simple, cheap, and an easy way to earn gold. While you can purchase bait from shops, this can get expensive really quickly since even the cheapest baits cost about 15 gold each. The free way takes a little more legwork, but it's a heck of a lot more fun! Killing small animals and insects, as well as harvesting plants can supply you with all the starting bait you will need. 

The second reason is that fishing in ESO is a complimentary skill - you don't actually need to do it in order to craft, but it goes a long way in benefiting your ability to do so. The fish you catch can be used when mixing potions in Alchemy or cooking recipes in Provisioning

There are rare fish and special achievements associated with fishing, and every time you catch one you will gain experience and increase your proficiency in fish - which then allows you to catch fish faster and easier, with better rewards. You may also find rare and special fishing poles as you progress through your game which are much better than the starter pole.

Furthermore, this is an activity you can do either on your own or with a friend. In fact, rather than scaring the fish away, fishing with friends ups both your chances of catching rare fish!

Where can I find bait for free?

Before you can fish, you will need to choose the right kind of bait. Luckily, these are not hard to find at all, and you will have plenty of opportunities to find these little critters on and in between your questing adventures. Here are some of the easiest ones to find!

  • Guts can be harvested by killing small animals like rats, frogs, chickens, guar, and small ocean minnows. 
  • Crawlers can be harvested by killing spiders.
  • Insect parts and insects can be harvested from insects like butterflies and torch bugs. (Note: simply walk up to these and press 'E', you do not need to attack them.)
  • Shad bait can be found in foul water (e.g. sewers, swamps).
  • Worms can be gathered while you are harvesting plants (e.g. jute).

Which bait to use and what kind of fish?

Unsurprisingly, different types of bait are best for catching fish in different areas. There is a lore book in ESO that gives some good guidelines on where are the best places to land the different types of common fish:

  • Slaughterfish and Trodh: These fish are found in the foulest waters possible: sewers, fetid swamps, and in pools near decomposing corpses. A favorite of city dwellers who don't want to leave the safety of their walls, these fish are drawn to crawlers and fish roe.
  • Salmon and River Betty: Fresh flowing rivers and streams are the home of these tasty fish. They bite best on baits of insects and small shad.
  • Spadetail and Silverside Perch: Still lakes with deep holes or overgrowth that let these fish stay out of the sun are the preferred locale for these fish. Guts from small frogs, guar and chickens as well as tiny ocean minnows are the best bait for these.
  • Dhufish and Longfin: When you are the by the sea, you should try your hand at catching these beauties. Using common garden worms and small chub will entice the largest of these fish.

How do I fish?

While there are bodies of water everywhere, you will only be able to fish where you see splashing and rippling spots in the water. When you mouse your cursor over these, a prompt to press 'E' will appear.

(Note: Hold down 'E' in order in order to choose your bait, otherwise it will simply tell you that you have no bait on your line and do nothing.)

Doing so will open up a wheel with all the different types of bait you have available - much handier than rifling through your inventory lists. Choose the appropriate bait type and your character will automatically attach and cast it into the water. 

The option to 'reel in' will appear. Watch the floater carefully, if it dips under the water, use that prompt and reel in your catch! Every time you cast you will have the chance to change your bait type.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to leave me a comment below!

Featured Columnist

Avid PC gamer and long-time console lover. I enjoy sneaking, stealing everything not nailed down, and shooting zombies in the face. I'm also a cat.

Published Apr. 1st 2014
  • Luke_6558
    Unless I'm missing something, there are a few errors in this. Fish can't be used in Alchemy, and I've never found a recipe that uses a caught fish. As far as I can tell, the starter pole is the only pole available. Also, I have caught shad in lakes so I don't think the areas are strictly limited to certain types of fish. For example, in Stros M'kai, you can catch Dhufish and Longfin in the river around the palace.

    Where did you get your information? If I am wrong about the provisioning and fishing poles, please correct me, because I'd love to know how to do it if it is possible.
  • Stephanie Tang
    Featured Columnist
    You're right. This guide was written some time ago and relied on a lot of information for stuff that was intended to come out - and then didn't. A good explanation can be found here: http://doctorapocalypse.kinja.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-fishing-in-elder-scrolls-online-1546458958

    I really need to update this, but I haven't been able to in the past few weeks.
  • Gretchen the Brave
    Hi! I'm an avid fisher in Tamriel, in the Ebonhart regions. Let me tell you this--- fishing is really fun. But, if you catch any rare fishes, it is against the law to keep it in your inventory so we are not permitted to sell them at ridiculously high prices to others.

    The greatest perk about fishing is getting the recognition for your hard work. Such achievement is worthy of bragging to your fellow comrades. However, there are a few stuff you should consider: some fishing holes will ban you for mistakenly identifying you as a werewolf. This might not be a nuisance if there's another fishing hole a couple of steps away where you are permitted to fish. But, that you might not be as lucky with that other fishing hole.

    Also, if you are in a zone where there is sighting of only one rare fish --- and you actually catch it --- there's a good chance you won't be recognized for your hard work. I have already filed a complaint regarding this issue as this has happened to me. I doubt it will be resolved as us anglers are a rare breed and it will be hard to get our voices heard.


    Anyway, I hope to see you all in Tamriel. Happy fishing!
  • andy_9703
    are you chronicling the right game? is this fishing proficiency imaginary and/or invisible or maybe otherwise non-existent? is there maybe a late-game way to build food from these fish that are not food ingredients? how are you a cat? are you confused in any way about the topic about which you have written here? am i confused?


    a kindly fisherman
  • t3rminull
    I don't recall this starter fishing pole you speak of.
  • bob_5623
    When I catch a 'trophy fish' - ones that show up with green writing; they do not appear afterwards in my inventory... is this how it is meant to go?!?
  • MillieWays
    Thanks for this great guide! I found it to be super helpful. Fishing is one of my favorite ESO hobbies :) I'm really excited to learn that I may one day be able to upgrade my fishing pole!!

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