Fishing minigames are something of a meme at this point, appearing in many games out of the blue and tasking you with catch 10 bass to complete an achievement, or, even worse: move the story further.

But despite this grim background, fishing in video games can be very fun! Better yet: it can actually be worth your time, for many reasons. Perhaps the activity is really engaging, perhaps it yields valuable resources, or lets you feel like badass (read on, you’ll probably see what we mean by that).

For clarity’s sake, we split the list into two sections.

In the first, we take a look at games that are actual fishing simulators. We won’t tell you which one is the BEST fishing simulator out of those, but we will tell you which one isn’t all that serious about the gig!

The second part is about fishing bits in games that are about something completely different, but put in the options for immersion, fun, or gameplay diversity.

Fishing: North Atlantic 2020-10-16 Simulation
Ultimate Fishing Simulator 2018-08-30 Simulation
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag 2013-11-19 Adventure
Red Dead Redemption 2 2019-11-05 Adventure
Sea of Thieves 2018-03-20 Adventure
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition 2016-10-27 Adventure
ARK: Survival Evolved 2015-06-02 Adventure
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Nintendo Switch) - Nintendo Key - NORTH AMERICA 2020-03-20 social simulation
Far Cry 5 2018-03-27 Action & Shooter
Pokémon Sword & Shield Expansion Pass 2020-06 adventure
World of Warcraft Time Card Prepaid 60 Days 2004-11-23 MMO
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game of the Year Edition Deluxe 2009-06-16 RPG
The Sims 3 2009-06-02 simulation
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind GOTY Edition 2002-04-29 RPG

Without further ado, let’s dig into our list of games where you can go fishing! 

Fishing: North Atlantic

Release date:2020-10-16
Developer:Misc Games AS

To kick off the simulator section of the list with something with scale, let’s consider Fishing: North Atlantic for a moment. Unlike many other games on the list, this one is like a gamified version of one of the commercial fishing shows you can see on TV. You begin with a small boat, but as you progress and earn money you’ll be able to upgrade to bigger vessels with more options opening up.

There are 29 ship in the Enhanced Edition, and they have support for many types of fishing, including harpooning and lobster traps. If you’re really into trawling, it’s an option as well. Your fishing operation takes place on a vast map based on Nova Scotia, including six ports for when you need to weather a storm or offload what you’ve caught.

Key features
  • A colossal map of North Atlantic near Nova Scotia
  • Many different ways to fish for many different species
  • Looks lovely
  • Dynamic economy affected by other fishers

Ultimate Fishing Simulator

Release date:2018-08-30
Genre:Bit Golem

Let’s leave the tumultuous waters and head over to a lake, shall we? Ultimate Fishing Simulator has a very bold title, but the 90% approval rating on Steam (at the time of writing) suggests there might be something to it. UFS is much more in the tone and vibe of spending a day or a weekend at the lake and fishing for fun, be it from the shore, or a boat, or even ice fishing.

The game features two modes, normal, and Realistic, for those who seek deeper and more accurate simulation. Of course, you decide what to do with your catches, you can turn them into trophies or catch and release. There’s even a level editor, in case you’re seen all that the pre-made maps have to offer and want to try something new.

Key features
  • You can hop into online multiplayer to go fishing with friends
  • Two modes: Normal and Realistic
  • Includes ice fishing
  • Several DLC taking the game to different locations, including Greenland and Japan

The Catch: Carp & Coarse Fishing

Release date:2020-07-30
Developer:Dovetail Games

Don’t be misled by the title, in The Catch: Carp & Coarse Fishing, there are over 30 different fish species for you to go after. If that’s not enough, there are even boss fish, in case you want an additional challenge. There are also 5 different fishing locations for you, including Malaysian Pearl Lake and even urban fishing in Rotterdam, for a break from the usual natural settings.

Of course, The Catch: Carp & Coarse Fishing also provides you with plenty of equipment to use on your fishing trips, with licenses from more than 20 manufacturers, so there’s a good chance you’ll find your favorite. There’s also an even better chance, that you’ll have to use every tool at your disposal to catch every fish in the game.

Key features
  • 35 fish species in the base game, and many boss fish for extra challenge
  • Several fishing locations around the world, including urban phishing
  • Equipment licensed from more than 20 manufacturers
  • Includes online fishing PvP events

Fishing Planet

Release date:2019-11-04
Developer:Fishing Planet LLC

Fishing Planet is a free-to-play game, but despite having many DLCs, it also has a very robust core offering, while downloadable content mostly adds cosmetics and boosters. If you’re interested just in a fishing simulator, then you’re in for a treat, with almost 200 fish species, plenty of fishing locations, and dynamic weather and day/night cycle to add extra realism to your experience.

Fishing Planet

Fishing Planet also features multiplayer options if the solo experience doesn’t excite you. Depending on your position, the game’s numerous DLC might be a significant downside, but if you’d love to still experience Fishing Planet’s gameplay with a more straightforward expenses, check out The Fisherman – Fishing Planet from 2019, it’s paid up-front with only three DLCs.

Key features
  • Nearly 200 fish species
  • Online competitions
  • A lot of fishing gear to pick and choose from
  • Free to play, with lots of optional DLCs.

SEGA Bass Fishing

Release date:2011-03-04

Sure, SEGA Bass Fishing is very old by video game standards, having released in 1997, but it deserves this spot for a few reasons. First of all, it’s still quite fun. It’s also easily available on Steam. And, finally, it provides a neat way to shift away from serious simulators towards more minigame-like fishing. SEGA Bass Fishing definitely leans more towards arcade, lighthearted, fast-paced style.

The basic idea, is that first you must match a lure to the fish you want to catch, and once it takes the bait you must maneuver so that the line doesn’t snap. On most stages, except the last one, you’re expected to match a certain total weight fish. A possible downside is that this game does look like it came out in 1997, so if you can’t stand old graphics, it might not be the right pick for you.

Key features
  • A classic fishing arcade game from SEGA Dreamcast’s days of glory
  • Far from a serious simulator
  • Got ported to Steam in 2011
  • Halfway between a simulator and a minigame

Sea of Thieves

Release date:2018-03-20

Rare’s Sea of Thieves gives its players a chance to take part in the great adventure of being a pirate. You can Explore of the uncharted waters, complete dangerous missions, and fend off other pirates waiting for an easy loot – those are only a few of the things you will experience throughout the game. All that with a crew made of sometimes questionably skilled online individuals.

As a mostly water-borne game, SoT lets players fish. There’s even a trading company/quest giver The Hunter’s Call dealing in sea creatures. You can hand your catches raw or cook them to receive even more gold. Fishing in SoT is simple: after casting the line with bait, it’s all about careful maneuvering and reeling the animal in until it’s safely in your hands.

Key features
  • A lighthearted and cartoonish pirate simulator
  • Extensive customization
  • Fishing is a legitimate way to get ahead with one of the factions
  • Amazing for co-op

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Release date:2016-10-27
Developer:Bethesda Game Studios

The fifth installment of the Elder Scrolls series takes the player to the northern reaches of Tamriel. There, among the hilltops and mountain ranges of Skyrim, the great dragon Alduin awakens and threatens to destroy the world. As the legendary Dragonborn, the player embarks on the quest to put an end to the dragon’s threat.

The vast open world of Skyrim offers plenty of optional activities. That includes fishing. The land is filled with rivers, lakes, and streams inhabited by all sorts of fishies. Although the original game requires barehanded fishing, the later edition included the option in a more comprehensive manner, with fishing supplies etc. There’s also the third option, in the form of the mighty Fus Ro Dah.

Key features
  • Fishing, hunting, smithing, alchemy, this game has it all!
  • A large open world littered with stories and points of interest
  • Special and Anniversary editions come with all the DLC bundled in
  • Extremely moddable

ARK: Survival Evolved

Release date:2015-06-02
Developer:Efecto Studios

ARK: Survival Evolved takes you to a mysterious island, and subjects you to a murderous survival test. Not only do you have few resources, you also must manage your degrading stats like thirst and hunger. To make things worse, the island is inhabited by prehistoric animals who would love nothing more than to take a bite from your in-game avatar.

The easiest way to fend off hunger is to find to craft a fishing rod and enjoy a lovely fishing afternoon in the form of a straightforward Quick-Time Event. Aside from juicy fish meat, you can find crafting blueprints, apparently eaten by the fish. What was that saying? “Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day, give a man a fishing rod, and he’ll learn construction.” Or something like that.

Key features
  • An interesting setting explored through discovered journals
  • A mix of science fiction and fantasy: dinosaurs, laser guns, and dragons
  • Expansions add new fascinating, diverse biomes and creatures

Far Cry 5

Release date:2018-03-27
Genre:Action & Shooter
Developer:Ubisoft Montreal

Hope County had become a home to a dangerous cult, led by the charismatic Joseph Seed. As a rookie deputy marshal, you’re sent with a team to arrest him, but the mission goes sideways. Left stranded on the enemy territory, with little chance of rescue or calling for backup you must work together with the locals unhappy with the cult to dismantle father Joseph’s operation.

Surprisingly, for all the bad that’s going on in Hope County, the place has some decent fishing spots, far from the guerilla warfare going on all around the county. The player can unlock various rods and baits – some of which purchased in gun stores, others requiring specific missions. Luckily, the game offers the player various skills that can make fishing a whole lot easier.

Key features
  • Take a break from Far Cry mayhem with chill fishing trips every now and then
  • You can befriend a bear
  • Set deep in Montana
  • Got a follow-up called New Dawn

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag 

Release date:2013-11-19
Developer:Ubisoft Montreal

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is considered one of the best installments of the series thanks to one of the most extensive open-worlds in the series, a fan-beloved protagonist, and the naval gameplay that set the standard for similar games. As Edward, a young pirate captain, gets involved in the Assassins-Templars war, he discovers that he might have missed his true purpose…

One of AC IV’s most prominent side activities is hunting giant sea creatures, such as sharks, whales, and orcas. Harpooning in Black Flag isn’t for the faint of heart. The animals don’t take kindly to being poked with sharp sticks and will retaliate to destroy your whaleboat. The pride in catching the beasts, and the profits it brings, makes all of it worth the risk of getting mauled.

Key features
  • Assassins of the Caribbean
  • Well-developed naval gameplay
  • An exciting whaling side activity
  • Fantastic protagonist

Pokemon series 

Release date:1996-2019
Developer:Game Freak

For over 20 years, the world of Pokémon has been inviting players to catch and train these mysterious creatures. Over generations of consoles, players explored several regions of the Pokémon universe capturing various types of the growing roster of monsters. Some Pokémon could only be caught in specific regions and biomes. This is especially true for the water-dwelling Pokemon.

The player could, of course, catch’em all… if they came prepared for the task. The ways of catching a water Pokémon vary from generation to generation. Often, fishing requires just a rod and a body of water. However, some titles in the series made the task a little bit harder, including minigames and limited fishing spots. And after all that you might still catch a humble Magikarp.

Key features
  • Over 20 years of catching cute monsters
  • Fishing is a great way to get some Water types
  • New Pokémon arriving in every installment
  • Many spin-offs, if an open world turn-based RPG isn’t to your tastes

The Sims 4

Release date:2014-09-04

Above all else, The Sims 4 is a life simulation. And life, as we all know, is complicated, and sometimes we need to unwind with a pleasant pastime. The Sims 4 lets the characters do that in many ways, including the subject of this piece – fishing. The developers went as far as to make becoming the master fisherman one of the sims’ aspirations. Talk about thoroughness!

Fishing in The Sims 4 depends on many the sim’s expertise affected by things like appropriate traits or  spending time studying. Even just spending more and more time fishing helps sims become more proficient at it, and with time they’ll start to catch fish faster. The fish caught by the sims can be cooked for dinner with friends or as a part of home decor. Nothing brightens the room better than a specialized aquarium full of goldfish.

Key features
  • A long-running series of humorous life simulators
  • Deep customization
  • Fishing can be one of your Sim’s skills
  • Many expansions and content packs adding even more options: clothes, décor, jobs, etc.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Release date:2020-03-20
Developer:Nintendo EPD

Escape the hardships of your real-world live and enjoy the mundanity of living on a small island, tending to your garden, and meeting with friends. Animal Crossing: New Horizons helped many people survive the peak of the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic – cooped up under strict lockdowns, the players could live their lives in the virtual worlds of cute animals.

Like most social simulation games, New Horizons features many different side activities, including fishing. With a fishing rod and a bait, you can approach water and begin forcefully inviting a fish to visit them for dinner. The fishing mechanics are simple enough that even young players will grasp them quickly. All that remains is enjoying the time spent catching all sorts of water animals.

Key features
  • Pleasant, friendly experience great for adults and children alike
  • Plan your life on your own island in a world populated by anthropomorphic animals
  • Some jokes about fish you catch will make you groan… and then fish some more
  • Can introduce low-pressure routines to your gaming life

World of Warcraft

Release date:2004-11-23
Developer:Blizzard Entertainment

Azeroth awaits its hero to deal with the dark forces brewing in the heart of the land. Equip your most powerful spells and arm yourself to the teeth to take on the evil forces rudely interrupting the regularly scheduled grudge match between the Horde and the Alliance. and…wait, where are you going? No, leave that fishing rod! There’s no time for…oh, fine, whatever.

The interesting feature of fishing in WoW is that the player can fish not only in water and not only for the actual fish. There’s a variety of liquids to dip the rod in, from rivers of hot lava to pools of metallic mercury. Your catches can be used to feed the player (with increased healing and buffing properties when cooked!) or the hunter pets.

Key features
  • For a long time: undefeated king of MMORPGs
  • Years of story- and gameplay-rich content to experience
  • Fishing is a proper profession
  • Epic storyline

Red Dead Redemption 2

Release date:2019-11-05
Developer:Rockstar Games

At the end of the 19th century, the Old West was slowly going away. This changing world is the setting of Red Dead Redemption 2, the latest game from Rockstar and a prequel to the excellent Red Dead Redemption. As Arthur Morgan and the other Van der Linde gang members try to find their place in the changing world, the player gets to experience a bit of life on the American frontier.

Out in the open world, you’ll be able to partake in various frontiersman activities, including fishing. It’s one of the quickest ways to get some decent grub, which keeps Arthur’s stats high. Better yet, catching and releasing fish increases your honor. It’s a perfect way to recover good karma after we accidentally trampled over the sheriff of Valentine or killed a bystander during a shootout.

Key features
  • Stunning attention to detail
  • RDR2’s vision of the dying Old West is deeply immersive
  • Fishing and hunting in general are more than just time fillers
  • Engaging story

Many fish(ing minigames) in the ocean

This ends our fishing excursion. Did any game catch your interest and you’re ready to reel it in? Hopefully so!

Of course, this is just the tip of a huge iceberg of fishing activities in video games, and we’ll surely cover more in the future!