(Not) Catching Junk

Explains why you might catch junk items, and how to avoid them. This page does not apply to Draenor - see Bait and Fillet. On this page:

(Not) Catching Junk

The 2 minute movie above illustrates most of the guide written below. The video does not cover the exception, Pandaria, which is only explained in text below.

  1. Fish Anywhere with Skill 1

    Fish Anywhere with Skill 1
    Fish Anywhere with Skill 1

    You can cast in any water with fishing skill 1.

    You will always catch something. But you may catch a lot of junk items from open water.

    Junk is only caught from open water outside of Draenor. You will never catch junk from pools (explained later).

  2. Junk


    There are 8 common junk items (Driftwood, Empty Clam, Sickly Fish, Tangled Fishing Line, Tattered Cloth, Torn Sail, Weeds and Withered Kelp) and 5 uncommon junk items (Empty Rum Bottle, Old Boot, Rock, Tree Branch and Water Snail).

    All junk items sell to vendors, but are not very valuable: 18c each, except Tattered Cloth and Rock, which sell for 1s. The average income from fishing junk is just 35c per catch.

    The most valuable catches can be auctioned for gold, so it is usually best to avoid catching junk. However, 35c per catch is more valuable than some low-level fish, such as Raw Brilliant Smallfish.

  3. Area No-Junk Skill

    Area No-Junk Skill
    Area No-Junk Skill

    Every area of water outside of Draenor has a "no-junk skill". This is the effective fishing skill required to fish without ever catching a junk fish from the water.

    Skill and Locations lists the no-junk skill for every zone or area. You can also find this information in the Fish Finder.

    The "no-junk skill" is the same number as the old "skill to fish without get-aways".

  4. Amount of Junk Caught

    Amount of Junk Caught
    Amount of Junk Caught

    If your own effective fishing skill is equal to, or above, the water's "no-junk skill", you will never catch junk items from the water.

    If your skill is below the no-junk skill, you will catch some junk.

    The more below, the more junk you will catch.

    Only the junk items listed in #2 above indicate insufficient skill. At some locations (such as parts of Dalaran and Kun-Lai Summit) other junk-quality items can be caught, regardless of skill. In these places, catching junk does not automatically mean your skill is too low.

  5. Example: Tanaris

    Tanaris Junk by Fishing Skill
    Tanaris Junk by Fishing Skill

    Tanaris' no-junk skill is 300.

    150 fishing skill = 75% of catches from open water (3 out of every 4) will be a junk item.

    260 fishing skill = 25% of catches will be a junk item. 3 out of every 4 catches will be a normal fish.

    300 skill or above = you will never catch junk in Tanaris.

    Other zones/areas have different no-junk skills.

  6. Except in Pandaria...

    Carp Catch
    Carp Catch

    In Pandaria, excess Golden Carp are caught instead of junk. Any catch that would have been junk based on the rules above, becomes a Golden Carp.

    Golden Carp are also part of the normal catch from open waters of Pandaria. So catching Golden Carp does not automatically mean your skill is too low.

    Skill is still important in Pandaria: If you are catching excess Golden Carp, you have a lower chance of catching the other fish found in the water. For a worked example, read the Pandaria section of The Role of Skill (Revised).

  7. Except in Draenor...

    Draenor's waters use a different set of rules, which are introduced by Bait and Fillet, and detailed in Size and Skill: Any Draenor open water can be fished at skill 1, but the higher your effective fishing skill, the more likely you are to catch larger sizes of fish. Larger sizes of fish contain more fish flesh. Junk is never caught in Draenor waters.

The formula that determines the proportion of junk caught is explained in The Role of Skill (Revised).

Draenor's waters use a different process to determines what fish is caught, and how anglers can influence that.

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Comments about (Not) Catching Junk

Below are readers' comments about "(Not) Catching Junk":

3.3--no trash in fishing pools?

  • GormanGhaste, October 2009

    I haven't seen anyone mention this on this site yet, so I'll link the source:


    "Don't forget, in patch 3.3.0 you never catch trash from fishing pools, regardless of skill. "

    What does this mean? And why would anyone need to skill up fishing, if pool fishing was always successful?

  • el, October 2009

    I assume it means that with skill 1 you can successfully catch fish from any pool anywhere - even places like The Frozen Sea.

    Update: It's true. Skill 1-6: 5 Glassfin Minnow from a Glassfin Minnow School. 0 Trash. The next 5 casts into open water all yielded junk.

    This means the new Kalu'ak Fishing Derby requires fishing skill 1. Also opens up some interesting new options for leveling fishing - a direct choice between speed and gaining valuable fish.

  • Robodin, October 2009

    There goes the fishing market, if any schmuck with 1 fishing skill can fish up mats for whatever food they need :/

  • Expand 17 more comments

    from "3.3--no trash in fishing pools?".
  • Trigot, October 2009

    This is horrible its just another easy button to lame out the game. Its no longer going to be anything to be proud of because its somthing a lvl 1 can go and do with no fishing skill.

  • DarkMime64, October 2009

    So we level fishing now for... what purpose exactly?

    I'm assuming, then, that a character with 1 skill in Cooking can make a Fish Feast, too.
    And someone with 1 skill in First Aid can make Frostweave Bandages.

    No? Oh..

  • el, October 2009

    DarkMime64 wrote:

    So we level fishing now for... what purpose exactly?

    To be able to equip that Arcanite Fishing Pole, which gives a +40 bonus to skill, which you need to... erm, hold on. There are still fish that cannot be caught from pools - the Dalaran fountain, Old Azeroth fish used to level cooking, etc. But it's hard to answer your question.

    I'd rephrase the question: Why have fishing skill at all?

  • Gizel, October 2009

    el wrote:

    DarkMime64 wrote:

    So we level fishing now for... what purpose exactly?

    To be able to equip that Arcanite Fishing Pole, which gives a +40 bonus to skill, which you need to... erm, hold on. There are still fish that cannot be caught from pools - the Dalaran fountain, Old Azeroth fish used to level cooking, etc. But it's hard to answer your question.
    I'd rephrase the question: Why have fishing skill at all?


  • mikado, October 2009

    Was fishing very hard to begin with? Did it need all the past and future nerfs it's received? Don't get me wrong, I am excited about the tournament, but making it so that anyone can participate just by clicking "learn fishing"? I think that's a bit much. I don't see the point of this change.

    Next up: mine titanium with lvl1 mining skill and herb in Storm Peaks with lvl1 herbalism skill. But no, these are primary professions and too many folks would throw a fit if that happened. But fishing is just some trash secondary profession and noone will care, amirite?

  • Averiy, October 2009

    The three fish required for a fish feast can be pool caught, it's true, but the most efficient way to catch them is in Wintergrasp, where they are caught from open water in a near equal ratio, so that you don't have many fish of any one kind left over. This you cannot do without fishing skill.

  • Kamaria, October 2009

    This is all so depressing

  • Al, October 2009


  • Utopia, October 2009

    Sadly it seems we anglers are becoming another victim of the dumbing-down in the name of accessibility which is sweeping through wow......

  • Feiwong, October 2009


    I've opened a suggestion thread complaining about this change... so if anyone wants to support it, please do


    Best regards,

  • el, October 2009

    Here are some more discussions on the official forums:


    Pool fishing involves moving around, looking for specific things in the water. Pools are the closest we currently have to the Cataclysm method of fishing mentioned at BlizzCon (hooking specific fish you can see swimming). Encouraging pool fishing in this patch makes a lot of sense. In fact, it may be an attempt to demonstrate that a more interactive method of fishing can be popular. Although people here tend to mostly fish from pools, over all players open water is much more popular. So trying to make the least popular aspect of fishing more popular might be logical overall, even if we see things differently.

    Of course leveling fishing skill (and specifically leveling alongside cooking) appears (same source) to account for a significant proportion of fishing activity. There's a risk of simply making the whole cycle pointless: Nobody needs to level fishing skill, so nobody fishes. Rationally, you'd counter that by arguing that if people didn't want to fish, they would not have levelled fishing skill. However Joanna Average WoW player transpires to be surprisingly irrational. "That 1/450 bar needs to be filled!" "One day I'll want to farm Mr. Pinchy..." I'm sure we've all been there, even if we find a reason to justify our actions. A superficial (or worse, pure economist) understanding of that irrationality is a dangerous thing.

    Traditionally the role of fishing skill has been to test patience. Patience is the main requirement for fishing. And requiring 10 or 15 hours of fishing before an angler can catch the good stuff, is what separated "us from them". It's also classic EverQuest-style grinding, that used to be common in WoW: Do the same thing over-and-over, before you can do what you actually wanted to do.

    Patch 3.1 started to dilute the test of patience. 3.3 dilutes it so far we're struggling to see a purpose.

    The basic problem for fishing (and all WoW professions) is that there was never a hard part that followed the "pointless grind" of skilling-up. So removing the need for skill means that everyone can do it immediately. Consequently, there's nothing exclusive or special for anglers who are prepared to put a lot of work into the profession.

    Or is there? Ah, but there is! At least for fishing. Take a step back and look at this forum. Or perhaps earlier in the year, when things were busier: The most popular topics are about catching the Sea Turtle, Pinchy, One that Got Away. Listen to the furvor with which people defend (or are annoyed by) the Salty title. All things that are a serious test of patience, and provide the angler with something to care about, something exclusive that is valued among those they play with.

    Now, there are all kind of issues with this form of non-monetary, individualistic consumerism. And I suspect we'll eventually laugh at the paradox of how Blizzard's attempt to counter inequalities that exist outside of the game (by blocking Real Money Trading), has actually created one of the most unequal communities within the game (by trying to prevent the trade of anything perceived to have value). But that's a philosophical discussion for another time. We are where we are. And right now we're in a land where titles, mounts, and other apparently useless things have the greatest sense of value.

    Why not go further? No computer-incremented skills whatsoever. Instead (if fishing still is a test of human patience) add far more apparently useless, but rare, things that take patience to acquire. (Rare doesn't imply strictly random - rare but less variable - for example a Sea Turtle might take 4,000-5,000 casts, not 1-~25,000 casts - excessive variability causes frustration as the mind either can't understand the pattern, or feels the pattern is unfair.) Or perhaps associate fishing with something other than patience.

    There are lots of possibilities following this line of thought: But perhaps the value of fishing shouldn't be thought of in terms of the ability to catch buff food. Increasingly, the real prestige is a Turtle-mounted Salty with a Crawdad in tow. Or similar.

  • Durth, October 2009

    Having paid for 2 epic flyers and a mechano hog just by selling food Im not to excited about this. On the other hand though its not like its really that easy to fish for this stuff without being attacked at lower levels. A level 1fishing glacial salmon pools is going to get hit by a bear or the opposing faction at the lumber mill. Lloot crazed divers are at the sculpin lake in Borean Tundra. Nettlefish ahve all sorts of animals runnnig around their pools. Im just not sure how this will all shake out. I dont like professions being easy. Going through the bs to get them leveled was the only thing keeping the market at a certain level. A lot of people just wouldnt bother but now its always getting easier and easier. Plus it makes me feel old and grumpy :p

  • Durth, October 2009

    Oh I forgot to mention the 5 tab Guild bank and all the gold spent tipping other people for enchants and gemming and such. Some people laugh when you put cooking in trade but I think most os us here know better.

  • Gned, November 2009

    I'm feeling pretty abused over the new fishing changes. Mostly because my invested time and efforts are at least partially meaningless now.

  • Leny, November 2009

    I find this to be a horrible idea..... two things that kind of set me out in my guild was my habit for paying huge amounts for non-combat pets and fishing

  • Shreda, January 2010


    Sorry, I had to do something dramatic

  • Renetta, January 2010

    I don't really have a strong attitude in many ways. Yes Salty is my preferred title because I like fishing and it's the perfect title for a squid (I mean draenei). But I actually disagree that fishing is becoming less patient driven. Getting fishing to 450 takes not a lot of patience. There is constant short-term reward (oh another tick, uh here is something funny I fished up, do old world pool achievement to break the monotony, visit nat pagle etc etc).

    Rather this is being replaced with things that for some, though not all requires a lot of patience. The one that didn't get away took me over 7.5k casts (I think the general believe is that the average is around 1k) if I remember correctly and made me vow to never fish for an extremely low drop achievement again. Well I didn't stick to it. Now I'm at way over 12k on the turtle without luck (here it seems that people converge on a believe that the average is 4-5k) and patient permitting I may fish indefinitely without any reward whatsoever. So yeah rare _is_ random, else I'd have both much earlier.

    I for one have never ever felt my patience tested so much as in the new system, not the old. But yeah, some may have been more lucky and hence don't even know that patience may be required. I certainly don't complain that I got my old ironjaw on my very first cast, that indeed didn't take any patience to do. That said, for many of us getting all fishing achievements is way harder than doing the old fishing skill leveling was. If someone doesn't understand that you simply got lucky.

    I like the BB contest. This is not a test of patience. It's a test of preparation, planning, swift decision making and some luck. But luck is but one factor and one can work to bend the odds one way and many who do the contest will see their fish counts go up with experience. Before I won I had two contests where I was 1 fish short - that's the margin of error the contest had when you are prepared and do all the right things. The new fishing contest is just Vegas though and I am only happy it's in the game because it at least doubles up on the chance to get a turtle as well.

    In fact the relationship is reversed now. If you are unlucky you need extreme patience with limited short-term reward. Yes if you are lucky you need no patience at all. So if the complaint is that fishing moves away from patience to luck I might actually agree. But from how it sounds there will be some skill added to the equation and frankly I'd rather work on things I can control than fish 10k pools for nothing at all (well except the ability to completely destroy the value of fish in the AH for a good while).

    So yes I hate the new system, nothing resembles disillusion more than weeks of solid fishing without any sign of reward or any promise that reward will ever come - but making skill leveling easier now and possibly removing it later doesn't move me at all. In fact I welcome it.

    Ultimately in terms of game design as a whole, the EQ model is dead. WoW has discovered that the time people have is constant, so if you add new stuff you have to obsolete old mechanisms to keep things to do in balance with people's time. Else the game becomes inaccessible for newcomers because they'd have to catch up 5 years worth of gaming to be where the original population got. A phenomenon not unfamiliar in EQ, and while relished by some, really a bad idea to keep a game community together. The WoW model is sustainable, but yes requires that people accept change and that old way to get to X will be replaced by a new way to get to X that may in fact be much faster.

    MMOs are about renewal. Yes we farmed 1 year of Molten Core 3 days a week for T1 sets. They are worthless now. One can focus on that and how unfair it is that people now get T9 for running heroics not requiring the wipes and patience and learning, or one can recognize that it was fun while doing it and look forward and appreciate the new content that comes ones way.

    On Cataclysm fishing I reserve judgment until I have seen it, but looking backwards won't be how I'll be judging it.

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