Changes as Documented
The official patch notes list the following changes:
- The fishing timer has been reduced from 30 to 20 seconds and it now takes less time to fish. You now catch fish faster.
- The fishing timer can no longer run through its duration without a fish biting.
- Fishing has been removed from Arathi Basin and Alterac Valley. [The option to fish when one could be fighting was always curious for battlegrounds. Plus these areas had a lower skill requirement than other zones with similar fish, so there were practical incentives to join battles just to fish.]
- Fixed a bug where you could catch 2 fish at once in some zones. [For two months prior to the patch, all areas where seasonal fish could be caught (Raw Summer Bass and Winter Squid) had given two fish per catch.]
- You can now fish in The Underbog. [Prior to this you could only catch fish in Serpentshrine Cavern, although the only reason to fish there is to summon The Lurker Below.]
The first two changes are potentially very important, and are dealt with by the rest of this article.
Changes as Observed
Nobody knew precisely how much time was available for the angler to successfully click the bobber after it splashed - "several seconds" would be my best estimate. Consensus suggests that that time has been reduced, making it far more important to react immediately to the bobber splashing.
Many posters at the official forums have cited two related changes as "bugs":
- If the bobber splashes and is clicked in the final 1-2 seconds of the progress bar, no fish are caught, and no error message is displayed. This is different from the previous behaviour, where one could often click the bobber after the progress bar had faded and still catch a fish.
- There is a greater delay between the cast and the bobber appearing. Vorchyldr writes, "It no longer appears the instant you cast, it waits that one second for your line to appear with it." This is a particular issue for pool fishing, where several casts may be required before the bobber lands correctly. There always was a small delay due to lag (time delay between information being sent between client and server), but the time delay seems to have increased.
Neither of these can be attributed to excess lag.
Stornetta queried the first problem with a GM, and was told that it is now possible for a "bite" not to catch anything:
- The designers have created a new dynamic that requires "getting used to".
- Every cast results in a bite. Not every bite is an opportunity to catch a fish. Some bites are actually a complete non-event.
- The lures [bobber] bobble at the bite and you may or may not have had any chance to catch a fish.
- A meaningless bite event results in a click with no feedback whatsoever. If it says, "Your fish got away," that represents a skills/equipment issue at that location which is a completely different thing.
Prior to the patch a complete cast cycle (from cast, catch/retrieve fish or wait for no bite, to recast) would take me an average of about 23 seconds. That's about 8 seconds more than simply half the duration of the timer. There are a couple of reasons for that:
- Lag: The location the bobber lands is calculated by the server, what fish you catch is determined by the server, and moving the fish from the pole to your inventory is determined by the server. At every stage lag will delay you. Add a couple of hundred milliseconds of lag to your connection and each cast cycle can take several seconds longer. (This was most obvious for me in The Burning Crusade beta, since I was suddenly connecting to servers located on the opposite side of the planet. Suddenly each cast cycle was taking 3-5 seconds longer than when playing on live EU servers.)
- There seemed to be a greater chance of catching a fish during the final half of the timer, than in the first half of the timer. Perhaps it was simply impossible to catch anything in the first few seconds. Or maybe this was caused by lag.
In theory the patch's reduced fishing timer could turn a pre-patch average of 2.5 catches a minute, to almost 4 catches per minute. But the reality will be less dramatic for most players.
Pool fishing gains little benefit from the reduced timer because often far more time is spent moving between pools than physically fishing them. This is particularly true for rare pools with low numbers of fish per pool, such as Highland Mixed School, although avoiding enemies may become easier with the shorter timer. If the additional delay on casting is a genuine feature, pool fishing may yet have become slower.
Prior to the patch, about 5% (one in twenty) casts would run its duration without a fish biting. That figure was an average, and variable. So all casts biting will only cause a small change to the overall speed of fishing: Its main benefit is to make fishing feel less frustrating, since now you are guaranteed a catch, so long as you meet or exceed the skill requirements.
Unfortunately, the "none-event" catches - the observed failure to catch anything if the bobber splashes in the final seconds - will also cause a proportion of casts not to catch anything. But with more frustration: The angler has to actively click, rather than just letting the timer run out; and there is no visual feedback to tell them they have lost the mini-game.
Fortunately, the logical workaround works - click on the bobber just before the timer runs out (thanks Smoke and Opie301).
Perhaps the whole art of fishing just became more "twitch" orientated - and consequently a less social activity?
WoWInsider reports that patch 2.2 made the following (undocumented) changes:
- Bobber splash at the end of the timer is adjusted so you don't have to instantly click for fear of missing.
- The fishing line now instantly appears when you cast.
So hopefully the two main annoyances for many anglers have been fixed.
- Poll: Have the recent changes made fishing more enjoyable? - The verdict of El's readers.
- The Role of Skill (Original) - Considers the role skill plays in fishing. Pre-patch 3.1 analysis.
- Getting Started - Contains information for the beginner. If you've never picked up a fishing pole in your life, or have only just started fishing, this chapter is for you.
- Insider Trader: The fishing splash -- wait for it ... - Musings from Lisa Poisso.