I’ve been trying to win WoW’s weekly fishing contest on and off for eight years. It’s a race to collect special Speckled Fish from fishing pools in Stranglethorn faster than anyone else on your server and, as you might expect, it’s crazy hard. I finally won it this past weekend and learned a couple things along the way I want to share with you to help you win the fishing tournament yourself, or at least cope with losing it a bit more gracefully.
1. Cross-realm zones make it feel way more fun
The last time I competed in the fishing contest was when Cataclysm’s boredom was in full swing. There was almost no one else competing for fishing pools near me, and it was simply a matter of fishing by myself for 15 minutes, hearing the announcer declare some unseen jerk as the winner, and then trod back glumly to Orgrimmar.
With cross-realm zones, there are players all over the place from other servers. Tons of level 90s and an alarming number of 20s (twinks?) competing for fishing pools. Normally, this would be hyper annoying for a competition like this: every person playing lowers your chances of winning. But while cross-realm zones put these players in your same zone, each server maintains separate and unique winners.
So while it was more hectic fighting over spawn points, those people were more like a backdrop for my adventure than direct competitors. There weren’t many people from my server competing, but the game made it feel like I was besting hundreds by showing me all of the people fighting on their own servers. It felt more dynamic and exciting, without actually reducing my chances of winning.
2. If you get ganked, don’t get angry
I got ganked by a human Paladin about 5 minutes in while a Tauren Shaman stood by and watched. Hiring a saboteur on the opposing faction is a totally legitimate tactic, and you’re likely to run into it. When you get ganked, don’t get upset and don’t waste time running back to your corpse. Consider that gank a flag-in-the-sand of sorts that declares that area off-limits.
You won’t catch fish any faster by starting a war. Instead, spirit rez at the graveyard and start heading up the nearest coast. I actually ended up finding less competition, Horde and Alliance, along that coast and ended up being closer to Booty Bay when I was ready to fly in for the win.
3. Booty Bay doesn’t even have to like you!
I showed up in Booty Bay exactly two minutes before the contest started, hoping to set my hearthstone in the inn there per the awesome strategy tips at El’s Extreme Anglin. Instead of finding a cheerful innkeeper with ale on tap, I was callously reminded by a bunch of red health bars and pointy sticks that Booty Bay hated me for siding with the Bloodsail Buccaneers on this character 8 years ago. Whoops.
I was extremely lucky in one thing, however. The only person in the whole place that didn’t hate me was the only person I cared about: the fishing contest NPC was neutral and more than happy to transact fish with me.
4. It’s okay if you’re not at 100% efficiency
So I was already operating under maximum efficiency before it even started, but for a guy who remembered the tournament 6 minutes before it happened, I felt like I was still doing alright. I ended up winning the tournament in 17 minutes, which is actually pretty slow compared to the times I’ve seen over the years (it’s almost always done by the 15 minute mark).
I had a lot of setbacks and made a lot of mistakes, and the fact that I still won makes me believe that there’s not nearly as much competition on this as there used to be. So don’t stress out if things don’t go perfectly for you when you’re competing.
Let’s look at the all things that went wrong for me: I got ganked, started in a high-population area that went dry quickly, alt-tabbed and missed one of my casts, and had plenty of non-contest fish jump on my bait. By all means, set your hearthstone in Booty Bay, learn the fishing pool spawn patterns, and memorize the perfect angle to stand in relation to a pool to maximize your casts—every advantage will help you. But don’t get depressed when things don’t go as planned. Improvise and keep a level head—you’ve still got this.
5. Know which prize you’ll pick ahead of time
I’m sure some of you are cursing the heavens right now, outraged that someone who managed to miss a cast won the fishing contest while you still haven’t. Rest assured, I alt-tabbed for a good cause: I was looking at the prizes and trying to figure out which one I wanted most.
Clearly, I didn’t alt-tab enough, though, because I still panicked when I reached the NPC to turn in my fish. There were 3 alliance characters flying in around me and I didn’t know if they were on my server or not. So, instead of taking the time to look at the prizes, I frantically picked the prize that I wanted 6 years ago: the silly trinket that turns you into a fish.
My alts will hate me for not picking up the XP-boost ring that I’ve been coveting since it was introduced in Lich King, but they can deal with it. Nereus is a fish now. He swims in schools and lives off the fat of the sea.
6. Don’t wait for the pool to disappear when sharing
One final tip that I felt saved me a lot of time while competing with others for fishing pools: leave before the pool disappears. Once someone else shows up at a pool I’m fishing at, I waited for one more cast then left. With someone else draining your pool, there’s a 50% chance that they’ll catch the last fish and the pool will disappear, rendering the 20 seconds you stood waiting there for your cast to pop totally useless.
I hope this helps some of you somehow. Happy angling out there, and good luck!