Zone Base Fishing Skill - El's Extreme Anglin' - WoW Fishing Guide
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This topic answers the question, what fishing skill will I need to fish in a certain zone? It considers:

Looking for an introduction to what fishing skill is required? Read an introduction to skill and locations »

Summary

The table below lists the effective fishing skill required to cast and to fish without get-aways. Read the text below for an explanation of how these values were discovered.

Zone Fishing Skill
Base Fishing Skill Required to CastSkill Required to Stop Get-AwaysZones
<1 (-70?)25Azuremyst Isle, Dun Morogh, Durotar, Elwynn Forest, Eversong Woods, Mulgore, Teldrassil, and Tirisfal Glades.
<1 (-20?)75The Barrens, Blackfathom Deeps, Bloodmyst Isle, Darkshore, Darnassus, The Deadmines, Ghostlands, Ironforge, Loch Modan, Orgrimmar, Silverpine Forest, Stormwind City, Thunder Bluff, Undercity, The Wailing Caverns, and Westfall.
55150Ashenvale, Duskwood, Hillsbrad Foothills, Redridge Mountains, Stonetalon Mountains, and Wetlands.
130225Alterac Mountains, Arathi Highlands, Desolace, Dustwallow Marsh, Scarlet Monastery, Stranglethorn Vale, Swamp of Sorrows, and Thousand Needles.
205300Azshara, Felwood, Feralas, The Hinterlands, Maraudon, Moonglade, Stranglethorn Vale (Jaguero Isle only), Tanaris, The Temple of Atal'Hakkar, Un'Goro Crater, and Western Plaguelands.
280375Hellfire Peninsula, Nagrand (Forge Camp: Hate only), and Shadowmoon Valley.
305400Zangarmarsh (except Marshlight Lake, Sporewind Lake, and Serpent Lake).
330425Azshara (Bay of Storms, Hetaera's Clutch and Scalebeard's Cave only), Burning Steppes, Deadwind Pass, Eastern Plaguelands, Feralas (Jademir Lake only), Scholomance, Silithus, Stratholme, Winterspring, Zul'Aman, and Zul'Gurub.
355450Terokkar Forest, Zangarmarsh West (Marshlight Lake, Sporewind Lake, Serpent Lake).
380475Nagrand (including Halaa and the Elemental Plateau) and Netherstorm.
395490Nagrand (Lake Sunspring and Skysong Lake only).
405500Terokkar Forest (Blackwind Lake, Lake Ere'Noru, Lake Jorune and Silmyr Lake).

The Problem

What fishing skill will I need to fish in a certain zone is not an unreasonable question to want an answer to. But getting a straight answer to this seems to be remarkably difficult. There is general agreement that higher level zones require a higher fishing skill. To quote the book called WoWWiki, "Zones usually have a fishing level of 5 times the average level of monsters in them, but some zones vary considerably from this rule of thumb."

The problem with documenting what skill is needed is that there is only one reliable benchmark: Can I cast a line or not? If I can't, whatever skill I have is insufficient, but I have no way to know how insufficient: I might be one point short or a hundred points short. If I can cast a line, there is no reliable way to tell how much I exceed the base skill requirement by. A rough guess can be made from the proportion of fish that get away, but this is not normally accurate because while you are experimenting, your skill is improving.

Existing Sources

I started by comparing three separate lists of recommended fishing skills by zone. Note that the minimum "recommended" skill doesn't mean the base skill. The sources are: Draznar (since altered), Deedoohangus ((in French)) and Razorfold. I have sorted the zones by level (taken from the official Flight Path Maps). Level is typically the level range of the monsters and quests in the zone.

Capital cities have been listed alongside their starting zones. However, the waters of the capital cities are widely regarded as more difficult to fish than starting zones. Moonglade is a Druid training ground covering all levels, but I have classed it alongside neighbouring Felwood. Zones with no recommended skill are not listed.

Zone Fishing Skills - Comparison of Sources
ZoneLevelDraznarDeedoohangusRazorfold
Dun Morogh/Ironforge1-101-501-501-55
Durotar/Orgrimmar1-101-501-501-55
Elwynn Forest/Stormwind City1-101-501-501-55
Mulgore/Thunder Bluff1-101-501-501-55
Teldrassil/Darnassus1-101-501-501-55
Tirisfal Glades/Undercity1-101-501-501-55
Darkshore10-2050-8050-100-
Loch Modan10-2050-10050-100-
Silverpine Forest10-2050-10550-100-
Westfall10-2050-8050-100-
The Barrens10-2550-10050-100-
Redridge Mountains15-2580-120100-150-
Stonetalon Mountains15-2775-125100-15055-130
The Wailing Caverns15-21--55-130
Ashenvale18-3075-150100-15055-130
Duskwood18-3095-150100-15055-130
Hillsbrad Foothills20-30100-155100-15055-130
Wetlands20-30105-150100-15055-130
Thousand Needles25-3575-125100-150130-205
Alterac Mountains30-40150-170150-200130-205
Arathi Highlands30-40150-180150-200130-205
Desolace30-40100-175100-150130-205
Stranglethorn Vale30-45150-250150-200130-205
Badlands**35-45175-225150-200-
Dustwallow Marsh35-45150-300150-200130-205
Swamp of Sorrows35-45175-225150-200130-205
Feralas40-50150-175150-200205-300
Tanaris40-50225-275200-250205-300
The Hinterlands45-50200-245200-250205-300
Blasted Lands**45-55235-265200-250-
Azshara (Bay of Storms)48-55--300+
Azshara (Mainland)48-55200-275200-250205-300
Felwood48-55175-250250-300205-300
Moonglade48-55--205-300
Un'Goro Crater48-55225-275250-300205-300
Burning Steppes50-58240-290300+-
Western Plaguelands51-58255-270250-300205-300
Eastern Plaguelands53-60265-280300+-
Winterspring53-60250-300300+300+
Deadwind Pass55-60--300+

** No evidence of fishable water in the Badlands and Blasted Lands.

A few zones clearly break the relationship between level and fishing skill, and have a lower fishing skill requirement than predicted by their level: Desolace and Feralas in particular. Perhaps level is not such a useful guide?

Trial and Error

The method used to accurately determine the base fishing skills of zones is simple, but very time consuming: Travel round a series of zones. Attempt to fish in each zone you visit, but never catch anything (so skill never improves while you are travelling). After visiting all the zones, fish and gain some additional skill. Then go back round again. Several different attempts can be made at each location with the same personal fishing skill by using different lures and fishing poles.

I increased the skill level tested by five points at a time. This means that the results may be wrong up to 4 skill points. For example, I might have found that I could not fish with an effective skill of 50, but could fish with 55 skill. The base skill could be anywhere in the range 51-55, but I am assuming 55.

It is not practical to fish everywhere: Even with access to all the relevant flight paths, it would take days just to travel. I selected a range of zones that were relatively easy for the young dwarf I hired to reach. To reduce time spent travelling, the locations fished are close to flight masters.

Tests up to skill 205 areas were conducted by the dwarf I hired, using this method. The remaining 330 skill zones were check by me personally (with 300 personal fishing skill).

Zone Fishing Skills - Results
ZoneLocationInland or CoastalBase Skill Requirement
Arathi HighlandsNear Stromgarde KeepInland130
AshenvaleAstranaarInland55
Azshara (Bay of Storms)Bay of StormsInland330
The BarrensRatchetCoastal<1
DarkshoreAuberdineCoastal<1
DarnassusTradesmen's TerraceInland<1
Deadwind PassNear KarazhanInland330
DesolaceNear Nijel's PointInland130
Dun MoroghIceflow LakeInland<1
DuskwoodOn road to RedbridgeInland55
Dustwallow MarshTheramore IslandCoastal130
Eastern PlaguelandsLake MereldarInland330
Elwynn ForestGoldshireInland<1
FeralasFeathermoon StrongholdCoastal205
Feralas (Jademir Lake)Jademir LakeInland330
Hillsbrad FoothillsSouthshoreCoastal55
The HinterlandsQuel'Danil LodgeInland205
Loch ModanThe LochInland<1
Redridge MountainsLake EverstillInland55
Stonetalon MountainsMirkfallon LakeInland55
Stormwind CityThe CanalsInland<1
Stranglethorn ValeBooty BayCoastal130
TanarisSteamwheedle PortCoastal205
TeldrassilRut'theran VillageCoastal<1
Western PlaguelandsChillwind PointInland205
WestfallLongshoreCoastal<1
WetlandsMenethil HarborCoastal55
WinterspringFrostfire Hot SpringsInland330
Zul'GurubNear entranceInland330

There are only five skill levels listed: <1, 55, 130, 205 and 330. However, the first (<1) is misleading. Some of these locations are a lot less than one (almost no "get-aways", even at around skill 1), and some are only slightly below one (possible to fish at skill 1, but with a very high proportion of "get-aways" at that skill). Gut feeling is that the base skill in the easiest zones is about -70, and in the harder zones is about -20. These are impossible to confirm, because there is no way to maintain constant fishing skill below 75.

A Simple Answer

In the Gazetteer topic I showed that fish catches in each zone match one of just six possible patterns. Surprisingly, when I grouped zones by base skill requirement, almost every single group fitted perfectly within one of the six groups created for fish catches. The only zone that did not fit the pattern was the Alterac Valley battleground ((fishing was later removed from Alterac Valley, by patch 2.1)). I'm almost certain that base skill requirement is directly related to the fish catches that are possible in the zone. So, even though I have not confirmed the base skill requirement of every single zone myself, I believe the table below can be used as an accurate summary of base fishing skill requirements. Prove me wrong...

Theoretical Zone Fishing Skill Summary
Base Fishing Skill RequiredZones
<1 (-70?)Azuremyst Isle, Dun Morogh, Durotar, Elwynn Forest, Eversong Woods, Mulgore, Teldrassil, and Tirisfal Glades.
<1 (-20?)The Barrens, Blackfathom Deeps, Bloodmyst Isle, Darkshore, Darnassus, The Deadmines, Ghostlands, Ironforge**, Loch Modan, Orgrimmar, Silverpine Forest, Stormwind City, Thunder Bluff, The Wailing Caverns, and Westfall.
55Ashenvale, Duskwood, Hillsbrad Foothills, Redridge Mountains, Stonetalon Mountains, and Wetlands.
130Alterac Mountains, Arathi Highlands, Desolace, Dustwallow Marsh, Scarlet Monastery, Stranglethorn Vale, Swamp of Sorrows, and Thousand Needles.
205Azshara, Felwood, Feralas, The Hinterlands, Maraudon, Moonglade, Stranglethorn Vale (Jaguero Isle only), Tanaris, The Temple of Atal'Hakkar, Un'Goro Crater, and Western Plaguelands.
330Azshara (Bay of Storms, Hetaera's Clutch and Scalebeard's Cave only), Burning Steppes, Deadwind Pass, Eastern Plaguelands, Feralas (Jademir Lake only), Scholomance, Silithus, Stratholme, Winterspring, Zul'Aman, and Zul'Gurub.

Remember these are the minimum skills required to cast a line. To fish without any "get-aways", you will need to add 95 to the base skill requirement. ((** Ironforge was added by patch 2.3.))

Postscript: Outland

The table below shows the minimum fishing skill required to fish in different areas of Outland.

Zone Base Fishing Skill
Base Fishing Skill RequiredZones
280Hellfire Peninsula, Nagrand (Forge Camp: Hate only), and Shadowmoon Valley [thanks Oberweiss].
305Zangarmarsh east (Umbrafen Lake, The Lagoon).
355Terokkar Forest (Silmyr Lake, water near Tuurem), Zangarmarsh west (Marshlight Lake, Sporewind Lake, Serpent Lake).
380Nagrand (including Halaa and the Elemental Plateau), Netherstorm (Eco-Dome Midrealm).
395Nagrand (Lake Sunspring and Skysong Lake) ((changed by patch 2.3 from 430 in Lake Sunspring and 380 in Skysong Lake)).
405Terokkar Forest (Blackwind Lake, Lake Ere'Noru, Lake Jorune and Silmyr Lake) ((changed by patch 2.3 from 430; patch 2.4 increased Silmyr Lake from 355 to 405)).

Some of the named areas around the edges of Serpent Lake in Zangarmarsh have a base skill of 305, so it is possible to fish certain pools within the lake at this lower skill level. Blackwind Lake, Lake Ere'Noru, Lake Jorune and the Elemental Plateau can only be reached with a flying mount. Blackwind Valley and Skettis, also in the same area as Blackwind Lake, have a base skill below 375, probably 355 like the rest of Terokkar Forest.

Isle of Quel'Danas ((not in Outland, but only available with The Burning Crusade)) has a base skill of 355.

Learn More

  • The Burning Crusade - Base skill required for Outland zones.
  • An Introduction to Skill and Locations - Introduces the angler to the concept of fishing skill, and explains where to catch fish.
  • The Role of Skill - This topic considers the role skill plays in fishing, including how skill changes the proportion of fish that "get away".
  • Gazetteer - This topic develops a simple gazetteer that shows which fish may be caught in which zones.