Fishing Guide – Pools and wreckage

This chapter describes how to fish pools such as schools or floating debris, and analyses some of the catches. In this chapter:

“When lightning strikes the ocean, why don’t all the fish die?” – Children’s Week orphan

An Introduction to Pools

Conventional “open-water” fishing is endless. There is no need to move or do anything other than cast your line and reel in your catch. Pools of fish (schools, shoals, circles, holes) are similar to other “node-based” resource gathering, such as mining ore veins. Pools appear at points in the water. Once a few (typically 3-6) fish have been caught from them, the pool disappears, and you must look for an alternative pool to fish from. Otherwise, pools remain until fished.

Pools look like swirling patches of water, clearly visible from nearby land. ((Moving the cursor over the pool will tell you what the pool contains – for example “Firefin Snapper School” mostly contain Firefin Snappers.)) To fish from a pool you must have sufficient fishing skill (with any gear or lure bonuses) to meet the base skill requirement of the area you are fishing in. Stand a short distance away from the pool, facing it, and cast. The bobber must land within the swirling water, or very close to the edge. If it doesn’t land correctly, recast until it does. There is no way to control precisely where the bobber lands, so you might need to cast several times. When the bobber splashes, reel the line in as normal to recover your fish.

In addition to certain types of fish, pools may also contain wreckage (floating debris) or “Elemental Water”. These are fished in precisely the same way.

Pools can only be found in certain zones. The list below is based on Pleather, with additions and corrections:

Pools and Zones
Pool Zone
Deviate Fish Inland (oasis) areas of The Barrens.
Firefin Snapper Coastal areas of Arathi Highlands, Azshara, Desolace, Dustwallow Marsh, Feralas, Hillsbrad Foothills, Stranglethorn Vale, Tanaris, and Wetlands. Stonetalon Mountains (Blackwolf River/Cragpool Lake) as “Oil Spills”.
Greater Sagefish Inland areas of Alterac Mountains (Lordamere Lake) and Stranglethorn Vale (Lake Nazferiti).
Oily Blackmouth Coastal areas of Arathi Highlands, Azshara, The Barrens, Darkshore, Desolace, Dustwallow Marsh, Feralas, Hillsbrad Foothills, Silverpine Forest, Stranglethorn Vale, Tanaris, Westfall, and Wetlands.
Sagefish Inland areas of Ashenvale, Hillsbrad Foothills, Loch Modan, Silverpine Forest, and Stonetalon Mountains (Mirkfallon Lake).
Stonescale Eel Coastal areas of Azshara, Feralas, Stranglethorn Vale (south of the Grom’Gol only), and Tanaris.

Each of these pool types can be replaced by a pool of wreckage.

In addition, there are three particularly unusual pool types, which are described separately:

Pools appear at a fixed set of possible locations within a zone. Not all locations will have a pool at any one time. Each possible point may contain any of the pool types that appear in the area. For example, a pool along the coast of Hillsbrad Foothills may contain Firefin Snapper, Oily Blackmouth or wreckage. However, coastal and inland pools appear to be treated completely separately, so inland pools in Hillsbrad Foothills will only ever contain Sagefish or wreckage. There are three known exceptions to this rule:

  • Azshara, where pools of Elemental Water never interchange with other types of pool.
  • Stranglethorn Vale Tastyfish pools, which appear only during the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza, and temporarily replace all other pool types along the coast.
  • Stonetalon Mountains, where Sagefish pools are restricted to Mirkfallon Lake and Oil Spills are restricted to Blackwolf River/Cragpool Lake.

Pool Spawning

The appearance (“spawning”) of pools of fish is the most poorly understood aspect of fishing. This leads to the creation of lots of theories about how pools appear. I will first describe what is generally agreed or proved, and then move on to some of the other theories.

Basic Concepts

All pools are grouped into linked sets, even though they seem to be separate. Each zone has at least one set, with one set per inland or coastal area in that zone. Each set consists of a series of possible locations where a pool might appear. The number of possible locations in the set varies by area. Some sets are as low as 5 or 6 (for example, Faldir’s Cove in the Arathi Highlands), while there are 25-30 along the coasts of Feralas and the Hillsbrad Foothills. Stranglethon Vale has the greatest number of possible locations – estimated at over 50.

When a pool appears it can be of any type possible in the area. For example, if an area can contain Oily Blackmouth and wreckage pools, either of these two types can appear at any of the possible pool locations.

The probability of a specific type of pool appearing might be equal for all pool types in the same area. In the previous example, an Oily Blackmouth pool might be just as likely as a wreckage pool. This is unknown. “Cherry picking” means that you are more likely to find one pool type than another pool type.

Cherry picking involves fishing only one type of pool in an area, and leaving all the others. Once pools appear, they remain until fished completely. However, the type of pool that eventually “replaces” the one that is fished, is not decided by the type of pool that was originally fished. So in the previous example, if you were to fish only wreckage pools, and ignore the Oily Blackmouth pools, eventually there would be far more Oily Blackmouth pools to fish than wreckage pools: When a wreckage pool is fished, there is only a 50% chance of a wreckage pool appearing to “replace” it. So for every two wreckage pools you fish, only one new wreckage pool will appear. To maintain a steady supply of wreckage pools to fish, someone needs to be fishing the Oily Blackmouth pools too. For a full explanation, with evidence, see the Pool Appearance topic.

((The in-balances created by cherry picking pools are corrected once a week when the server is taken down for “maintenance”. This resets pools completely. That is why certain pools seem to be easier to find on Wednesday morning.))

The most popular theory on the appearance of pools is simple replacement: There are always the same number of pools, and when you fish one, a new one immediately appears at some other location in the set. This is true for at least some pools. For example, Sagefish in Mirkfallon Lake (Stonetalon Mountains), where there are always two pools somewhere in the lake, even after an hour of fishing Sagefish.

In most cases, the simple replacement theory is not correct. Instead, pools reappear gradually over time. How “gradually” is unknown. In the Pool Appearance topic I’ve shown that pools start reappearing about an hour after nearby pools were fished. However this might vary by location, or reflect the fact that I was the only person fishing, or some other unknown factor. There is also some evidence there that the rate of reappearance depends on how many pools currently exist in the area.

If you are routinely fishing in busy zones, where someone else was fishing before, during and after the time you fish, you will only ever see pools randomly appearing.

Other Theories

I have credited a theory called “double pools” to Mizzy. There is a rare chance that a new pool will appear directly under the one that you are fishing. This can result in far more fish than normal from one pool, or a pool that changes type while you are fishing from it. I recall Mizzy originally stated that this applied to any catch over four, and therefore in extreme cases (12 catches from the “same” pool), “triple pools” were possible. However, I am sure six catches is the maximum for all normal pool types except Sagefish ((the official documentation says “4-6”)). This makes these double pools somewhat less common. Personally I’ve only experienced double pools in Stranglethorn Vale. They may be more common there due to the zone’s popularity for pool fishing, or the fact the zone has more pools than any other.

Charming writes: “Not all the nodes are active at all times of day. For instance, one node may be active during the 12pm/6am period, but NOT the next timeframe. I have noticed that certain times of the day it appears that more or less nodes are active.” I don’t have any evidence to support this. It is quite an attractive theory, since it matches how catches from open-water fishing vary by time of day (see the Variation by Time topic). Unfortunately there is a much easier explanation for seeing different patterns of “nodes” at different times of day: People are more likely to fish at certain times of day.

Pool Contents

Pools may contain more than just fish. All sorts of materials seem to fall from ships and cluster in pools. Any type of pool (except Elemental Water and Tastyfish) may contain Stranglekelp, trunks, or some “Rumsey” brand rum. However these are most common in wreckage pools.

The type of trunk caught depends on the zone:

  • Tightly Sealed Trunk – The Barrens, Darkshore, Loch Modan, Silverpine Forest, and Westfall.
  • Watertight Trunk – Ashenvale, Hillsbrad Foothills, Stonetalon Mountains, and Wetlands.
  • Iron Bound Trunk – Alterac Mountains, Arathi Highlands, Desolace, Dustwallow Marsh, and Stranglethorn Vale (north of Grom’Gol only).
  • Mithril Bound Trunk – Azshara, Feralas, Stranglethorn Vale (south of Grom’Gol only), and Tanaris.

The type of rum caught also depends on the zone:

  • Rumsey Rum Light – The Barrens, Darkshore, Loch Modan, Silverpine Forest, and Westfall.
  • Rumsey Rum Dark – Ashenvale, Hillsbrad Foothills, Stonetalon Mountains, and Wetlands.
  • Rumsey Rum Black Label – Alterac Mountains, Arathi Highlands, Azshara, Desolace, Dustwallow Marsh, Feralas, Stranglethorn Vale, and Tanaris.

Bloated fish, which often contained gems and other rare items, can no longer be caught from pools ((this was removed by patch 1.11)).

I fished 243 pools and recorded their contents ((all with patch 1.11)). These are summarised in the table below. No Deviate, Greater Sagefish, Tastyfish pools were included. Elemental Water pools are considered in the Patches of Elemental Water section. Pools were fished in many different parts of Azeroth.

Pools Fished
Pool Type Pools Average Catches per Pool Average Items per Pool
Firefin Snapper/Oil Spill 68 4.0 4.3
Oily Blackmouth 50 4.1 4.4
Sagefish 29 6.0 6.4
Stonescale Eel 42 3.7 3.9
Wreckage 54 2.9 4.1

The number of items is higher than the number of catches because rum and Stranglekelp are caught in batches of 1, 2 or 3. The above-average number of catches from Sagefish pools is not a glitch. Sagefish pools often last up to 8 catches, while other pool types last up to 6 catches. All pools were fished as they were found. In some cases other fishermen and women may have taken some fish and then moved on, without emptying the pool. This will happen to anyone who fishes pools, so accurately reflects what you are likely to catch.

The table below shows the average number of items caught from fishing one pool of each type. The type of “fish” caught relates to the pool type – for example, all the fish caught from a Firefin Snapper pool will be Firefin Snappers. The type of trunks and rum caught will vary by zone, as described above.

Average Contents of a Pool
Pool Type Fish Trunk Rum Stranglekelp
Firefin Snapper/Oil Spill 3.3 0.4 0.2 0.3
Oily Blackmouth 3.4 0.3 0.2 0.5
Sagefish 5.2 0.4 0.1 0.7
Stonescale Eel 3.2 0.2 0.1 0.3
Wreckage 1.6 0.7 1.8

Don’t read too much into the precise numbers – not nearly enough pools have been fished to make them accurate. However, we can draw some conclusions from the general patterns: Each pool containing only fish gives just over three fish per pool, with the exception of Sagefish pools which give just over five. Wreckage pools give about four times as many trunks, rum and ‘kelp as fish-only pools.

Trunk Contents

Four types of trunk can be caught from pools. Each trunk contains money (typically some silver coin). Most trunks contain one or more other materials, which vary by type of trunk:

  • Tightly Sealed Trunk:
    • Light and Medium Leather
    • Bolts of Linen and Woolen Cloth
    • Minor Mana Potion and Lesser Healing Potion
  • Watertight Trunk:
    • Medium and Heavy Leather
    • Bolts of Woolen and Silk Cloth
    • Lesser Mana Potion and Healing Potion
  • Iron Bound Trunk:
    • Heavy and Thick Leather
    • Bolts of Silk and Mageweave Cloth
    • Mana Potion and Greater Healing Potion
  • Mithril Bound Trunk:
    • Thick and Rugged Leather
    • Bolts of Mageweave and Runecloth
    • Greater Mana Potion and Superior Healing Potion.

All types of trunk may contain items, such common and uncommon equipment and bags, and patterns, plans and similar crafting instructions. None of these are unique to fishing, and may also be carried by monsters.

The contents of 155 different trunks were examined – 56 Watertight Trunks, 23 Iron Bound Trunks, and 76 Mithril Bound Trunks ((all with patch 1.11)). No Tightly Sealed Trunks were looked into. The table below shows the average contents of one trunk. Values are averages. For example, over a series of Mithril Bound Trunks, you should expect to gain half a bolt of Runecloth for each trunk you open: You will not get half a bolt in each trunk. Indeed, the content of trunks is very variable: You are more likely to open four and find two bolts in one trunk, and no bolts in the other three.

Average Contents of a Trunk
Trunk Leather Cloth Bolt Potion Other
Medium Heavy Thick Rugged Wool Silk Mage Rune Mana Heal
Watertight Trunk 1.9 0.5 0.6 0.4 0.3 0.1 0.2
Iron Bound Trunk 1.3 0.7 0.6 0.7 0.3 0.3 0.2
Mithril Bound Trunk 1.1 0.5 0.8 0.5 0.3 0.4 0.1

Patches of Elemental Water

In Azshara, pools called “Patch of Elemental Water” may be found. The pools look like bright blue swirling masses of gas, but may be fished just like other pools. From the pools you can catch:

I have fished and recorded the catches from 87 different pools, mostly late evening, over several different days ((based on both patch 1.10 and 1.11 – no differences were observed between the two patches)). The average number of successful catches before each pool disappeared was 2.9, with a range from 1 to 5. The average number of items gained from fishing one pool until it disappears is shown in the table below:

Average Contents of one Patch of Elemental Water
Item Average quantity gained from fishing one Patch of Elemental Water
Essence of Water 1.0
Elemental Water 2.2
Globe of Water 1.3

Essence of Water typically sell for over 5 gold each at the Auction House. The other items may sell for a respectable amount of silver. Fishing these pools can be a highly profitable enterprise.

There are at least six places where patches of Elemental Water may be found. I (and respected sources, such as Thalen) have only ever found six locations, however others have been rumoured to exist. Gold pins mark the six confirmed locations on the map below.

Map: Patches of Elemental Water in Azshara.

((For those looking for coordinates, they are: 54,39; 55,50; 59,40; 66,68; 74,71; and 79,53.))

Five are in the Bay of Storms/Hetaera’s Clutch/Scalebeard’s Cave area, which has a base fishing skill requirement of 330. The pool in the far north-west is outside this area, and hence has a lower fishing skill requirement. In practice, even accomplished fishermen and women (with 300 skill and various items of fishing gear) will want to use lures. Since the pools are quite a distance apart, you may need to apply a new lure at each pool. Since you will have to swim between pools (rather than run or ride, as is normally the case when fishing pools elsewhere), items that increase swimming speed are very useful. Some rather large giants patrol the area, although these are surprisingly easy to evade if you watch where you are swimming. The only other people you will see here will be fishing or conducting business with the Hydraxian Waterlords, so the area is relatively safe.

For discussion of how these pools appear, see the Pool Appearance topic.

The sporadic appearance of these pools, their popularity amongst veteran fishermen and women, and the finite number of buyers for Essence of Water, all mean that patches of Elemental Water are not well suited to continuous fishing. However, one 15-minute swim round the bay will often catch a couple of Essence of Water, which will earn you at least 10 gold. This compares favourably to most other money-making activities. Don’t listen to people that say you can’t make money from fishing…

There is a large pool in the middle of the Bay of Storms called a Swirling Maelstrom. Since there is no land nearby, it can only be fished using spells that allow water walking. The Swirling Maelstrom does not contain any particular types of fish – only those that are normally caught in the Bay of Storms (from Flomo and karlthepagan). Ancalimanarion writes, “its only use is to get an Arcanite Buoy to summon a Shark needed for a shard to create the Ahn’Qiraj Scepter” – the quest “The Wrath of Neptulos“.

Muddy Churning Waters (Zul’Gurub)

Most of the waters in Zul’Gurub contain similar sorts of fish to the hot springs of Winterspring. Some argue that they are easier to fish, because you can reach the water without fighting the trolls. ((You will need to part of a raid group to enter Zul’Gurub.)) In the waters around the centre island, you will find pools of “Muddy Churning Water”. From these you can fish Zulian Mudskunk. Each pools contains 2-4 fish. Zul’Gurub, like many higher-level dungeons, has a base fishing skill requirement of 330. The pools are surrounded by packs of nasty looking crocodiles, so cannot be easily fished alone.

The only reason to fish these pools is to summon Gahz’ranka. You will also need a Mudskunk Lure, which can be obtained from Nat Pagle after completing the quest “Nat’s Measuring Tape“. That quest starts at Nat’s Battered Tackle Box, at Pagle’s Point in Zul’Gurub. The lure requires five Zulian Mudskunk per summoning. While Gahz’ranka rarely carries much of value, most who fight it find bouncing up and down in the water a strangely entertaining way to finish off a visit to Zul’Gurub.

Money-Making Strategies

Pool fishing can be surprisingly profitable. This is still true after the disappearance of “bloated fish” from pools, which were, quite literally, stuffed with valuable gems ((these were removed in patch 1.11)). As discussed in the Valuable Fish chapter, the three fish used in Alchemy are always in demand. Even Stranglekelp will fetch a reasonable price at the Auction House. You will rare fill your bags with “vendor trash” when fishing pools.

In most cases, the best profits are to be made from fishing wreckage pools. The contents of a single Mithril Bound Trunk typically sells for about one gold at the Auction House. Bolts of Mageweave and Runecloth sell particularly well to tailors. For those fishing in easier waters, bolts of Woolen Cloth and Medium Leather will still sell for some Silver. Equipment, such as rings and bags, are now less commonly fished from pools than was the case when bloated fish were caught. But there is still about a 1 in 10 chance that trunk will contain uncommon equipment or bags.

If you fish every pool type, you can expect to fish about 20 pools an hour. From those you should expect about 10 trunks and 50 fish. Assuming reasonable Auction House prices, that’s over 15 gold per hour from the hardest waters (those where Mithril Bound Trunks and the odd Stonescale Eel can be caught).

There are a few issues to consider when fishing pools for profit.

If you are trying to fish wreckage pools in the same area over several hours, you will need to fish all the other pool types too. This will ensure enough wreckage pools appear. Alternatively, keep on moving between different zones, or rely on other people to fish your unwanted pools.

The proximity of pools to each other, the total number of pools in the area, and the rate at which pools reappear are important factors. Ideally you want a location where pools are very close together, so you spend less time walking or riding between them. If the area is popular with other fishermen and women, the more pools the better. Otherwise, the rate at which they reappear becomes more important.

For example, one of the best locations for less experienced fishermen and women (around level 20 with about 100 fishing skill), is Mirkfallon Lake in the Stonetalon Mountains. It contains about 5 or 6 possible pool locations, all very close together. The pools reappear very rapidly – there always seem to be two. Although Sagefish are not the most prized fish, they cook up into a tasty Smoked Sagefish. And a proportion of pools (Chadwicked says about 1 in 8) will be wreckage pools. The main disadvantage of the area is that there are only enough pools to allow one person to fish efficiently.

Slightly more experienced fishermen and women tend to favour Stranglethorn Vale. The waters here are the easiest to fish of any location where Mithril Bound Trunks can be caught. The zone also has more possible pool locations than any other. However, Stranglethorn Vale is commonly fished: It has more possible pool locations, but often has less active pools than quieter zones. For those with sufficient fishing skill, places like Feralas can sometimes allow more catches.

Lastly, where the factions are at war ((PvP realms)), consider the amount of enemy activity carefully. When fishing in open water one can usually find a quiet part of the zone, safely away from other people. Pool fishing not only exposes you to attack while fishing, but also while moving between pools. And some zones are notoriously dangerous – not least Stranglethorn Vale.

Further Reading