Two Key Strategies
There are two key strategies to winning:
- Fishing where others are not.
- Moving between pools as fast as possible.
That's what the dwarves would call "common sense".
Expect a winner to be announced within 20 minutes. The more contestants, the longer it takes, because everyone spends more time moving between pools. Never assume you have lost until all 3 winners have been announced. Some weeks everyone is unlucky. Even if you do everything "right", you are not guaranteed to win: There is still an element of luck in how the pools spawn and what proportion of non-contest fish you catch. Expect to be frustrated...
As pools are fished, they will disappear, and (in effect) re-appear at another location somewhere along the coast. There is no respawn time delay during the contest: Emptying one pool almost immediately triggers another fresh pool to appear somewhere in the set. With a lot of competitors, pools will be constantly disappearing from one spawning location and reappearing at another.
Consequently, this - from Kera - works well: "Find a nice stretch of 5 or so fishing holes [pools] and run just those holes over and over. I spent so much travel time in past tournaments looking for 'fresh' holes that had no one fishing. I found it quicker to hit the same ones over and over."
It is common to continue up or down the coast in one direction. In a busy contest, new pools are just as likely to be behind you as in front. If you know that the area behind you was not being fished by anyone else, going back might be sensible.
All pools in Northern Stranglethorn and The Cape of Stranglethorn have an equal chance of yielding Speckled Tastyfish during the contest - 80%. However one type of pool contains slightly fewer fish catches (in total, per pool) than the others: Each Bloodsail Wreckage Pool typically contains 2-4 catches, compared to 2-6 catches from Mixed Ocean School and Sagefish School. Compare the time taken to re-mount after fishing a Bloodsail Wreckage Pool, with the time taken to find a fresh non-Wreckage pool.
As the contest progresses, you may see more Bloodsail Wreckage Pools: The time penalty caused from fishing Wreckage (vs searching for non-Wreckage pools) will gradually decrease. If every angler ignores Bloodsail Wreckage Pools, the proportion of such pools will rise. That rise is because when non-Wreckage pools are fished empty there is a chance their replacement pool will be a Wreckage pool (see Pool Appearance).
Most competitors seem to start near Booty Bay. They either fish the area immediately east of Booty Bay intensively, or slowly work north up the western coast of The Cape of Stranglethorn.
The reason is not entirely laziness: There are slightly more pools in The Cape of Stranglethorn than in Northern Stranglethorn. So you will spend less time moving between them, and so catch more fish. But there are now more people trying to fish those Cape pools. So sometimes fishing the north can be very effective, because there is less competition.
Since patch 5.1, an interesting option is to fish Sagefish School along the river and lake in Northern Stranglethorn: Historically Speckled Tastyfish could not be caught from inland pools, and many older anglers are unaware of the change, so competition for inland pools tends to be lower.
Personally I find the strongest starting location is northern-most Cape of Stranglethorn, just south of Grom'Gol Base Camp. Others advise starting on Yojamba Isle, in the north-west of Northern Stranglethorn. Others just follow the crowd down near Booty Bay. This all proves one thing: There is no one "perfect spot". You must learn to adapt to what other anglers are doing, and normally do the opposite.
Doing the opposite of what everyone else does is not intuitive, but can be very successful. In particular, check parts of the coast that are missed by people that don't like to double-back on themselves. For example, the upper half of the eastern coast of The Cape of Stranglethorn is avoided by most anglers, but can contain many pools.
There are a few pools in Stranglethorn Vale that are so close to the coast that they are hard to land the bobber in. Thalen writes, "If the swirl is in a little bay close to the shore, you may have trouble getting the cast to land in the water... step out into the water a little way and cast back into the swirl, that is usually easier." In some cases it is practically impossible to fish - learn not to waste time on the most difficult pools.
If you have set your hearthstone in Booty Bay (discussed in Stranglethorn Extravaganza Preparation), you do not need to plan to finish close to Booty Bay: Using a hearthstone will always be quicker than running/riding from the nearest pool.
Moving and Sharing
Move between pools as fast as possible. The less time you spend moving, the more time you have to fish. "Ideally, you want to stand where you can promptly mount after emptying the hole" (from Hy).
While most competitors will simply mount up and fly between pools, sometimes pools are sufficiently close together to make running a better option: So, equip items that increase speed, such as engineers' Nitro Boosts, or Glyphs with a speed advantage (for example, rogues might consider Glyph of Blurred Speed). Drinking Swiftness of Zanza increases run speed by 20% (thanks heathisrael).
Land travel is not the only option: "I find the pools easier to spot from underwater" (from Dreadmon/Basilicus). Some pools are found on islands (for example, Yojamba Isle in the north-west, or the pirate islands east of Booty Bay), and the beach does not always cover the coastline. Speed up travel in these locations using:
- Elixir of Water Walking
- Shamans' water walking ability or Death Knight's "Path of Frost" (further discussion)
- Items and potions with swim-speed bonuses, such as an Azure Silk Belt and Murliver Oil.
Some anglers get very upset when you start fishing the same pool as them. Whether you respect their wishes or not is personal preference. There are no rules that state the first person to start fishing a pool owns it.
There is a simple reason you may not want to share pools: Most pools contain 4 fish on average. The total number of fish is the same regardless of how many people are fishing the pool. So if 4 or 5 people fish from the same pool, at best they can expect to catch just one fish each - and there is a chance they won't catch anything at all. So, "if there are already 3 or more people fishing in a spot, it's probably not worth stopping there" (from Thalen).
Where the factions are at war ((PvP realms)), the contest gains a whole new dimension: Not dying a lot becomes as important as catching 40 Speckled Tastyfish quickly.
It is almost inevitable that you will get killed during the contest. But since almost everyone suffers death, you can sometimes still win. It is worth trying to reduce the number of deaths:
- Escorts. There are many ways non-competing escorts can help, shown in Stranglethorn Extravaganza Preparation. Simply having an escort is often enough for opponents to avoid combat with you.
- Fish close to a graveyard. This will reduce the amount of time spent running back to your corpse after a death. There is a graveyard near the northern entrance to Stranglethorn Vale (which is not close to any part of the coastline), and a graveyard outside Booty Bay. So what this really means is "fish near Booty Bay".
- Use class abilities and trinkets. Apply a soulstone to allow instant recovery from the first death. Use Fear Ward or a fear-breaking trinket to ensure you do not get "distracted" while attempting to claim your winning prize.
- Move with members of your own faction. Following the crowd is a poor strategy for catching fish quickly, but in a very hostile environment, fishing with members of your own faction can provide some extra protection.
- Avoid the opposition. Easy to say, hard to do: Seek out quieter parts of the coastline. Run away from the hostile group "zerging" towards you. As Alliance, avoid standing outside Grom'Gol Base Camp in your best fishing gear, waiting for the contest to start - only to spend the first few minutes of the contest on a corpse run.
The most dangerous members of the opposing faction are those protecting "twinks" - low level, well-geared battleground fighters. Low-level anglers are virtually impossible to defend once engaged (they die almost immediately), so their escorts tend to kill anyone that might become hostile. Just in case. Avoiding areas that are popular with twinks (see below) is therefore a good strategy.
Randomly killing the opposition might seem like a good strategy. I have never seen anyone win by doing it themselves: In the 30 seconds or a minute you take to kill an opponent, you could be fishing. Since you won't manage to kill all the contestants, someone else will be using that time to fish, and so will catch 40 fish quicker. Only engage in combat yourself if it does not waste any time or prevent you casting a line.
If you are attacked, trying to kill your attacker may be the best strategy: The time spent killing them may be less than the time spent corpse running. Unfortunately aggressors are normally better prepared for combat than you, the angler. In such cases it may be faster just to die quickly and run back to your corpse...
If you have an escort, or many escorts, having them attack the opposition is quite effective: It delays at least some of your opponents, without delaying you. In extreme cases, whole guilds have been mobilised just to increase the chance of one of their members winning the contest.
The most effect (and annoying) tactic is to attack from range and immediately withdraw: This puts the fisherman or woman into combat, preventing them from fishing, while making the attacker difficult to deal with.
At Low Level
The contest is popular with "twinks" - low level, well-geared battleground fighters. One of the rare fish rewards a Lucky Fishing Hat, that is good gear at level 19. ((With patch 3.1, Nat Pagle's Extreme Anglin' Boots require level 35 to use.))
Those fishing for the rare fish can (and should) fish until 16:00 (when the contest ends). Expect to repeat the contest over several weeks: Serious "twinking" requires serious commitment. "Twinks" have to catch the rare fish themselves - you cannot group with another angler and steal their rare fish.
With a higher-level escort, there are no limitations on which pools a low-level angler can fish. Where the factions are at war, such anglers are very likely to die to the opposing faction. Consider waiting until the contest has been won before starting - you will still get about 90 minutes of fishing.
Solo fishing at low level is also possible.
Traditionally, the best location for this was Yojamba Isle, which is on the far north-west coastline of Northern Stranglethorn. This is easily reached by swimming south from Westfall (for Alliance) or across from Grom Gol (for Horde). There are 6-7 pool spawning locations round the island, so you should be able to find a pool to fish. The location is a long way from Booty Bay: It is possible to swim down the coast safely (just stay away from the shore), but takes a long time. Consider setting your hearthstone at the inn.
Yojamba Isle is very attractive to twinks. Where the factions are at war ((PvP realms)), it is worth hiring high-level escorts simply to stop other anglers from fishing. So ironically, un-escorted twinks may die repeatedly at Yojamba Isle. The island is a long run from the nearest graveyard, so dying is a major disadvantage.
A riskier alternative is the eastern coastline of The Cape of Stranglethorn, near the entrance to Booty Bay. There are about 10 pool spawning in this area that can be fished at low level. There are several hostile pirate camps. The area is close to a graveyard, so you can recover from death quickly. Avoid Jaguero Isle - there are not pools there.
A third option is to fish pools around Grom'Gol Base Camp, and from the base south to the Gurubashi Arena. Only a small number of pools can be fished solo, unless other anglers have already killed nearby wildlife. The area is often ignored, particularly after the winner has been announced. Consider this if the first two areas are over-fished.
- Contests Forum - Results, interviews, tips and winning strategies for the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza or Kalu'ak Fishing Derby.
- Also in Contests: Stranglethorn Extravaganza Contest, Stranglethorn Extravaganza Rewards, and Stranglethorn Extravaganza Preparation.
Comments about Stranglethorn Extravaganza Strategy
Below are readers' comments about "Stranglethorn Extravaganza Strategy":
Ranjurm, June 2009:
There are a few methods not mentioned that should be used by every serious angler when it comes to winning the fishing contest.
The first is a means of walking on water. Previously you needed a shaman or Death Knight to remain mounted and retain a water walking effect but luckily the good old Elixir of Water Walking will now allow you remain mounted with it's affect up. This allows you move more directly to new pools, better positioning for casting and faster traveling if you traverse one of the few long stretches of water in search of underfished pools. These can be gotten from your local alchemist or commonly from the reward bag given by the outlands fishing daily.
Crusader aura from a tag along paladin. Helps you spend a lot less time between pools and get an edge on your competition. This is a good time to call in favors if you are serious about winning. Two classes will benefit less from this buff than others (depending on spec) due to their 15% mount speed increase talents: Death knights and fecklessly paladins (who will be using crusader aura anyways). Remember your paladin buddy doesn't have to be max level, crusader aura can be trained at lvl 62
Finally swiftness potions. These allow you to quickly dash between two close by pools, especially useful for getting an extra cast on a fresh pool when you are sharing pools with other anglers when your class lacks such a boost. They can also be used on the home stretch to beat out another angler to the quest giver. 5-10 should be enough for one competition. Unfortunately these aren't as cheap as water walking elixirs due to their rare drop old world ingredient. On a related note, all anglers without run speed increasing talents or abilities should be using a meta gem or boot enchant for additional run speed. Every bit helps!
jacobsod, June 2009:
The biggest suggestion I got that helped a LOT was not to share pools. If someone is at a pool, skip it. YMMV on your server, though. My first few tries at the tourney I failed miserably because I would fish every pool, regardless if someone was there, and IF I was really lucky I got 2 fish. Skipping to my own I usually got the full pool before someone else came along. Won two weeks in a row because of this.
Good suggestions above, though. Water walking is as you said a big plus.
Illuthas, June 2009:
Yeah,I kept fishing in other ppl's pools but when I finally stopped sharing pools,I won twice.