Skill Required by Location

Sickly Catch

You can fish any pool with fishing skill 1. Higher fishing skill is not required to fish pools.

You can cast into any open water with fishing skill 1, but each area also has a "no-junk skill".

If your effective fishing skill equals the no-junk skill, you will not catch junk in open water: Every catch will be a regular fish or item. Your effective fishing skill is your personal fishing skill, plus bonuses from gear and lures. Try to fish with at least the no-junk skill, if fishing in open water. There is no known extra advantage for having your effective fishing skill above the no-junk skill.

If your effective fishing skill is below the no-junk skill, a proportion of your catches from open water will be a junk item, such as Driftwood. Junk is replaced by excess Golden Carp in Pandaria. These items can be sold to vendors, but are generally not as valuable as the fish you would catch if your skill were high enough. It is normally best to avoid catching a lot of junk!

The greater the difference between your effective fishing skill and the no-junk skill, the more junk you will catch. The precise formula is derived here.

For example, Dalaran requires 525 skill to fish without junk. If you fish there with skill 500, only 9% of your catch will be junk. At skill 50, 99% of catches will be junk.

Patch 3.1 changed the role of skill: With skill 1 you can cast anywhere. Junk items replace fish that "got away". Fish that "got away" did not improve your skill, but junk items do improve skill. So you can also now skill-up anywhere. For detailed analysis, read The Role of Skill (Revised). Patch 3.3 removed the skill requirement for fishing pools.
On Darkmoon Island, your personal skill (without Equipment bonuses) also determines which tier of fish you can catch - read Darkmoon Skill Tiers for details.

After considerable research, I believe the table below summarises the no-junk fishing skill values of zones and areas accurately.

Zone Fishing Skill
No-Junk SkillZones and Areas
1Blackrock Mountain, Burning Steppes, Mount Hyjal (Throne of Flame), Southern Barrens (Great Divide), Twilight Highlands (Cannon's Inferno) and Un'Goro Crater (Fire Plume Ridge)
25Azuremyst Isle, Blasted Lands (Tainted Forest), Darkmoon Island, Dun Morogh, Durotar, Elwynn Forest, Eversong Woods, The Lost Isles, Mulgore, Teldrassil and Tirisfal Glades
50Gilneas (Worgen)
75Azshara (General), Blackfathom Deeps, Bloodmyst Isle, Darkshore, Darnassus, The Deadmines, Ghostlands, Gilneas (Ruins), Ironforge, Loch Modan, Northern Barrens (except Oasis), Orgrimmar, Redridge Mountains (General), Silverpine Forest, Stormwind City, Thunder Bluff, Undercity, The Veiled Sea, The Wailing Caverns and Westfall
100Northern Barrens (Oasis)
150Arathi Highlands (General), Ashenvale, Duskwood, Hillsbrad Foothills, Northern Stranglethorn (General), Redridge Mountains (Lake Everstill), Stonetalon Mountains and Wetlands
225Arathi Highlands (Forbidding Sea), The Cape of Stranglethorn, Desolace, Dustwallow Marsh, Feralas (General), The Forbidding Sea, The Great Sea, The Hinterlands, Scarlet Monastery, Southern Barrens (General) and Western Plaguelands
300Azshara (Ruins of Arkkoran), Badlands, Eastern Plaguelands, Felwood, Feralas (Verdantis River), Maraudon, Moonglade, Northern Stranglethorn (South Seas), Tanaris, The Temple of Atal'Hakkar and Thousand Needles
375Hellfire Peninsula, Nagrand (Outland) (Forge Camp Hate), Shadowmoon Valley (Outland) and Un'Goro Crater (General)
400Coilfang Reservoir and Zangarmarsh (East)
425Blasted Lands (Coastal), Deadwind Pass, Dire Maul, Feralas (Jademir Lake), Scholomance, Searing Gorge, Silithus, Stratholme, Swamp of Sorrows and Winterspring
450Isle of Quel'Danas, Terokkar Forest (Rivers) and Zangarmarsh (West)
475Borean Tundra, Dragonblight, Grizzly Hills, Howling Fjord, Nagrand (Outland) (General), Netherstorm and Zul'Drak
490Nagrand (Outland) (Lakes)
500Crystalsong Forest and Terokkar Forest (Lakes)
525Dalaran, Sholazar Basin and Wintergrasp
550Deepholm, Hrothgar's Landing, Icecrown, Storm Peaks and Ulduar
575The Frozen Sea, Mount Hyjal (General) and Vashj'ir
625Dread Wastes (Inland), The Jade Forest (Widow's Wail), Kun-Lai Summit (Sha-Touched) and Townlong Steppes (Niuzao)
650The Jade Forest (Inland), The Ruby Sanctum, Twilight Highlands (General) and Uldum
675Tol Barad
700Dread Wastes (Coastal), Isle of Giants, Isle of the Thunder King, The Jade Forest (Coastal), Krasarang Wilds, Kun-Lai Summit (Coastal), Townlong Steppes (Coastal) and Valley of the Four Winds
725Townlong Steppes (Inland)
750Kun-Lai Summit (Inland) and The Veiled Stair
825Timeless Isle and Vale of Eternal Blossoms

Areas with unknown no-junk skill: Crusaders' Coliseum, Icecrown Citadel, Molten Core, Naxxramas, The Obsidian Sanctum, Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub.

Rules Governing Fish Location

Fish Rack
If you are looking for a particular fish, use the Fish Finder »

For those anglers that want to better understand where fish are found, there are a few basic rules which determine the location and availability of most fish. These are true most of the time:

  1. Different types of fish can be caught in inland water areas to those in coastal areas within the same zone. Normally every part of that zone's coast will give the same types of fish. It doesn't matter where you stand. The same is true for inland water areas. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, catches in Mount Hyjal's Throne of Flame (lava) differ from other areas of Mount Hyjal.
  2. The minimum level required to eat the cooked fish broadly reflects the prevailing level of the monsters and quests in the area it is caught in. For example, starting zones are teeming with Raw Longjaw Mud Snapper, which almost anyone can eat (level 5), but you won't see a Bonescale Snapper (level 70 to eat cooked) until you fish in Northrend.
  3. Most valuable fish can be caught from open water and pools within open water. Pools ("schools") were illustrated in the Equipment and Pools section. Where a fish is found in both open water and a pool, pools are normally the quickest method of catching the fish... but not always.

Extra rules apply to Old Azeroth only - not Outland, Northrend, Pandaria, or Cataclysm zones:

  1. More valuable fish are often found in at least one zone with a higher base skill requirement and one zone with a lower base skill requirement. The catch rate in the higher-skill zone may be greater than the catch rate in the lower-skill zone. For example, it is possible to catch Stonescale Eels off the coast of Tanaris. But the best locations for Stonescale Eels are the coasts of Blasted Lands or Swamp of Sorrows, where the skill requirement is higher (read the Catching Stonescale Eels topic for evidence).
  2. Catches of certain fish vary by time of day or season. The variation by time of day (known by experts as the "6 hour rule") is discussed in depth in the Variation by Time topic. Be aware that just because a source such as Thott's book says you can fish Raw Sunscale Salmon in the pools and rivers of Felwood, does not necessarily mean they can be fished at 03:00. There are also two known seasonal fish - Winter Squid and Raw Summer Bass which switch at the spring and autumn (fall) equinoxes. Squid can never be caught during the summer. Bass can never be caught during the winter. Read the Catching Winter Squid topic for more information. This rule does not appear to apply to low level zones.
And you thought fishing was just a case of casting your line and waiting for a fish to bite... right? To quote a wise gnome, "Easy to learn, hard to master."

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