How to Fish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Your guide to the when, where, and how of fishing

Fishing is a key activity in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. You’ll fish to make money, obtain items for recipes, and populate your museum with new species of fish.

How to Fish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Fishing is a timing-based mini-game. Grab a fishing rod and find the shadow of a fish swimming in your island’s rivers, ponds, or off the coast. Cast your line, wait for a bite, then reel it in. Here are the details.

  1. Obtain a fishing rod if you don’t have one. The fishing rod is among the first recipes you learn while playing through the game’s introduction. 

    Need a fishing rod?

    Don’t remember how to make a fishing rod? Open the Nook phone by pressing your controller’s left trigger, then navigate to DIY recipes. You can also buy a rod at Nook’s Cranny.

    Animal Crossing fishing rod DIY recipe
  2. Find a body of water with the shadow of a fish in it. Here's what the shadow will look like. 

    Animal Crossing character preparing to fish
  3. Cast your line so that it lands in front of the fish by standing near the water and pressing the “A” button on your controller. 

    Casting the line in the right spot can be tricky if a fish is moving frequently. You’ll know you’ve caught the fish’s attention when its shadow turns to face the bobber. If it doesn’t, reel your line back in and try again. 

    Animal Crossing character casting fishing line
  4. Wait for the fish to approach and touch the bobber. Once it does, it will either bite or nibble and back away. Don’t reel in your line until the fish bites.

  5. When the fish bites you’ll hear a splash, see the bobber move, and feel constant vibration through the controller.

    Immediately reel in your line by pressing the “A” button on your controller. Act fast, because the fish will disappear if you don't press the button in time.

    You won’t catch the fish if you reel in your line on a nibble, and the fish will then disappear. A fish will nibble a maximum of four times before biting. Its fifth approach will always be a bite. 

    Animal Crossing character fishing with fish on hook

Don’t Forget the Bait

Normally, you need to find the shadow of a fish in a body of water to catch it. If you can’t find any, or you’re feeling impatient, you can skip that step with fish bait.

You can make fish bait from manila clams (found by digging up clams on the beach) at your DIY workbench. Alternatively, you can buy fish bait from Nook’s Cranny.  

Just throw fish bait into the water and a fish will appear. Note this will make any nearby fish flee, so catch any already visible before throwing out bait.

How to Catch Specific Fish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Learning how to catch a fish is half the battle. The other is learning when and where you can snag the fish you want. This information is valuable if you want to complete your museum’s collection as quickly as possible, or you want to snag high-value fish to sell, or mount on your wall in your home.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has six different “zones” where fish spawn. These include the river, the river’s mouth, the river clifftop (i.e. the river on the elevated portion of your island), ponds, piers, and the ocean.

Fish also spawn only at certain times in certain months. To catch the fish you want, then, you’ll need to fish at the right spot at the right time. Also, the fish you can catch differs based on whether an island is in the northern or southern hemisphere.

Where to Find Fish in the Northern Hemisphere

Here's where you'll find fish in the northern hemisphere:

Name Location Time Months
Bitterling River Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov, Dec
Pale Chub River 9a.m. - 4p.m.  Any
Crucian Carp River Any  Any
Dace River 4p.m. - 9a.m.  Any
Carp Pond Any  Any
Koi Pond 4p.m. - 9a.m. Any
Goldfish Pond Any Any
Pop-eyed Golfish Pond 9a.m. - 4p.m. Any
Ranchu goldfish Pond 9a.m. - 4p.m. Any
Killifish Pond Any Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug
Crawfish Pond Any Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Soft-shelled Turtle River 4p.m. - 9a.m. Aug, Sept
Snapping Turtle River 9p.m. - 4a.m. Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct
Tadpole Pond Any Mar, Apr, May, June, July
Frog Pond Any May, June, July, Aug
Freshwater Goby River 4p.m. - 9a.m. Any
Loach River Any Mar, Apr, May
Catfish Pond 4p.m. - 9a.m. May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct
Giant Snakehead Pond 9a.m. - 4p.m. Jun, Jul, Aug
Bluegill River 9a.m. - 4p.m. Any
Yellow Perch River Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov, Dec
Black Bass River Any Any
Tilapia River Any Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct
Pike River Any Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec
Pond Smelt River Any Jan, Feb, Dec
Sweetfish River Any Jul, Aug, Sept
Cherry Salmon River (Clifftop) 4p.m. - 9a.m. Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Sept, Oct, Nov
Char River (Clifftop), Pond 4p.m. - 9a.m. (Mar-Jun) Any (Sept-Nov) Mar, Apr, May, June, Sept, Oct, Nov
Golden Trout River (Clifftop) 4p.m. - 9a.m. Mar, Apr, May, Sept, Oct, Nov
Stringfish River (Clifftop) 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec
Salmon River (Mouth) Any Sept
King Salmon River (Mouth) Any Sept
Mitten Crab River 4p.m. - 9a.m. Sept, Oct, Nov
Guppy River 9a.m. - 4p.m. Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov
Nibble Fish River 9a.m. - 4p.m. May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Angelfish River 4p.m. - 9a.m. May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct
Betta River 9a.m. - 4p.m. May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct
Neon Tetra River 9a.m. - 4p.m. Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov
Rainbowfish River 9a.m. - 4p.m. May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct
Piranha River 9a.m. - 4p.m. and 9p.m. - 4a.m. Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Arowana River 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Dorado River 4a.m. - 9p.m. Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Gar Pond 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Arapaima River 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jun, July, Aug, Sept
Saddled Bichir River 9p.m. - 4a.m. Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Sturgeon River (Mouth) Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec
Sea Butterfly Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec
Sea Horse Sea Any Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov
Clown Fish Sea Any Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Surgeonfish Sea Any Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Butterfly Fish Sea Any Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Napoleonfish Sea 4a.m. - 9p.m. Jul, Aug
Zebra Turkeyfish Sea Any Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov
Blowfish Sea 9p.m. - 4a.m. Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec
Puffer Fish Sea Any Jul, Aug, Sept
Anchovy Sea 4a.m. - 9p.m. Any
Horse Mackerel Sea Any Any
Barred Knifejaw Sea Any Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov
Sea Bass Sea Any Any
Red Snapper Sea Any Any
Dab Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Oct, Nov, Dec
Olive Flounder Sea Any Any
Squid Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Dec
Moray Eel Sea Any Aug, Sept, Oct
Ribbon Eel Sea Any Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct
Tuna Pier Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Nov, Dec
Blue Marlin Pier Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Jul, Aug, Sept, Nov, Dec
Giant Trevally Pier Any May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Mahi-mahi Pier Any May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct
Ocean Sunfish Sea 4a.m. - 9p.m. Jul, Aug, Sept
Ray Sea 4a.m. - 9p.m. Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov
Saw Shark Sea 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Hammerhead Shark Sea 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Great White Shark Sea 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Whale Shark Sea Any Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Suckerfish Sea Any Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Football Fish Sea 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov, Dec
Oarfish Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Dec
Barreleye Sea 9p.m. - 4a.m. Any
Coelacanth Sea (Rain) Any Any

Where to Find Fish in the Southern Hemisphere

While fishing in the Southern Hemisphere is the same, the locations to find fish are different. Here are the kinds of fish and where you can find them in the southern hemisphere:

Name Location Time Months
Bitterling River Any May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Pale Chub River 9a.m. - 4p.m. Any
Crucian Carp River Any Any
Dace River 4p.m. - 9a.m. Any
Carp Pond Any Any
Koi Pond 4p.m. - 9a.m. Any
Goldfish Pond Any Any
Pop-eyed Golfish Pond 9a.m. - 4p.m. Any
Ranchu Goldfish Pond 9a.m. - 4p.m. Any
Killifish Pond Any Jan, Feb, Oct, Nov, Dec
Crawfish Pond Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov, Dec
Soft-shelled turtle River 4p.m. - 9a.m. Feb, Mar
Snapping turtle River 9p.m. - 4a.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Oct, Nov, Dec
Tadpole Pond Any Jan, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec
Frog Pond Any Jan, Feb, Nov, Dec
Freshwater Goby River 4p.m. - 9a.m. Any
Loach River Any Sept, Oct, Nov
Catfish Pond 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Nov, Dec
Giant Snakehead Pond 9a.m. - 4p.m. Jan, Feb, Dec
Bluegill River 9a.m. - 4p.m. Any
Yellow Perch River Any Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Black Bass River Any Any
Tilapia River Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Dec
Pike River Any Mar, April, May, June
Pond Smelt River Any Jun, Jul, Aug
Sweetfish River Any Jan, Feb, Mar
Cherry Salmon River (Clifftop) Any Mar, Apr, May, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec
Char River (Clifftop) and Pond 4p.m. - 9a.m. (Sept to Dec) Any (Mar to May) Mar, Apr, May, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec
Golden Trout River (Clifftop) 4p.m. - 9a.m. Mar, Apr, May, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec
Stringfish River (Clifftop) 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Salmon River (Mouth) Any Mar
King Salmon River (Mouth) Any Mar
Mitten Crab River 4p.m. - 9a.m. Mar, April, May
Guppy River 9a.m. - 4p.m. Jan, Mar, Apr, May, Oct, Nov
Nibble Fish River 9a.m. - 4p.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov, Dec
Angelfish River 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Nov, Dec
Betta River 9a.m. - 4p.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov, Dec
Neon Tetra River 9a.m. - 4p.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Oct, Nov, Dec
Rainbowfish River 9a.m. - 4p.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Nov, Dec
Piranha River 9a.m. - 4p.m. and 9p.m. - 4a.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec
Arowana River 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec
Dorado River 4a.m. - 9p.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec
Gar Pond 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jan, Feb, Mar
Arapaima River 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr
Saddled Bichir River 9p.m. - 4a.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec
Sturgeon River (Mouth) Any Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Sea Butterfly Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov, Dec
Sea Horse Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Oct, Nov, Dec
Clown Fish Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov, Dec
Surgeonfish Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov, Dec
Butterfly Fish Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Oct, Nov, Dec
Napoleonfish Sea 9a.m. - 4p.m. Jan, Feb
Zebra Turkeyfish Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Oct, Nov, Dec
Blowfish Sea 9p.m. - 4a.m. May, Jun, Jul, Aug
Puffer Fish Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar
Anchovy Sea   Any
Horse Mackerel Sea Any Any
Barred Knifejaw Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec
Sea Bass Sea Any Any
Red Snapper Sea Any Any
Dab Sea Any Aug, Sept, Oct
Olive Flouder Sea Any Any
Squid Sea Any Any
Moray Eel Sea Any Feb, Mar, April
Ribbon Eel Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Dec
Tuna Pier Any May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct
Blue Marlin Pier Any Jan, Feb, Mar, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct
Giant Trevally Pier Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Nov, Dec
Mahi-mahi Pier Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, Nov, Dec
Ocean Sunfish Sea 4a.m. - 9p.m. Jan, Feb, Mar
Ray Sea 4a.m. - 9p.m. Feb, Mar, Apr, May
Saw Shark Sea 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec
Hammerhead Shark Sea 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec
Great White Shark Sea 4p.m. - 9a.m. Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec
Whale Shark Sea Any Jan, Feb Mar, Dec
Suckerfish Sea Any Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec
Football Fish Sea 4p.m. - 9a.m. May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept
Oarfish Sea Any Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov
Barreleye Sea 9p.m. - 4a.m. Any
Coelacanth Sea (Rain) Any Any

Don't Forget Seasonal Updates

Animal Crossing character fishing in the fall

The lists and information above apply to the fish normally in the game. However, Animal Crossing is regularly updated with new seasonal events. These might add new fish, or new items that change how you fish. It's a good idea to check what was added in the most recent update if you're returning from a break of playing the game.

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