This chapter describes how the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza works – what you need to do and what you can win. It also discusses the best contest strategies. In this chapter:
“Let the fishing tournament begin!” – Riggle Bassbait
The Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza is also known as the Booty Bay fishing competition or tournament. As the name suggests, the event takes place in Stranglethorn Vale. It occurs every Sunday afternoon from 14:00 to 16:00 ((server time, which may not be the same as local time)). You don’t need any quests to take part in the contest. You don’t need one of the fliers that are handed out in Ironforge or Orgrimmar before the event.
The contest works like this: At 14:00, everyone in Stranglethorn Vale will hear an announcement that the tournament has begun. Pools called “Schools of Tastyfish” will appear along the coast of Stranglethorn Vale. These pools will not appear around Jaguero Isle or in inland lakes. There is one possible pool location in Booty Bay, but I have never seen it filled with Tastyfish – I suggest you avoid Booty Bay too. The pools look similar to other shoals of fish, such as Sagefish or Oily Blackmouth. All the normal pools found along the coast will disappear during the contest. Their spawning locations are replaced by Schools of Tastyfish.
You can fish Speckled Tastyfish from the pools just like other types of pool. Simply land the bobber in the swirling pool and wait for it to splash, then reel in your fish. About 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 (20-25%) of the fish caught from these pools will be non-contest “fish”: Firefin Snapper, Oily Blackmouth, Stonescale Eel, Stranglekelp and occasionally rare fish (see below). Once about 4 or 5 fish have been caught, the pool will disappear. You will need to find another pool to fish from. Speckled Tastyfish bind to you when caught, so you cannot trade them. The fish go bad after 4 hours in your inventory, so you cannot save Speckled Tastyfish for the following week.
The main aim of the contest is to be the first person to catch 40 Speckled Tastyfish and return them to Riggle Bassbait in Booty Bay (taking and completing the quest “Master Angler“). During the contest, Riggle Bassbait is stood in the centre of Booty Bay, near the inn. Each week, the winner can choose one of:
- Arcanite Fishing Pole – The best fishing pole available, giving a huge (+35) bonus to fishing skill, although requiring 300 fishing skill to use.
- Hook of the Master Angler – A trinket that turns you into a giant fish, allowing you to breath underwater and “increasing” your swimming speed.
The winner can only win one reward per contest. If you win the contest a second time, you can gain the second reward. Both rewards are bound to you, so most people retire from the contest after winning twice.
The name of the winner is announced to everyone in Stranglethorn Vale as soon as they select their prize. Nobody else can win for another week. However, that is not the end of the extravaganza. The Schools of Tastyfish will not disappear until 16:00, and the organisers will remain in Booty Bay for at least an hour after that.
Once the winner has been announced, anyone else can continue to hand in batches of five Speckled Tastyfish to Jang in Booty Bay (standing right next to Riggle Bassbait). The repeatable quest “Apprentice Angler” will give you 23 silver for each batch of 5 Speckled Tastyfish.
Rare fish can sometimes be caught from Schools of Tastyfish. There are three rare fish that can only be caught during the tournament, and only caught from the Schools of Tastyfish. These fish are not unique – you can catch several. Rare fish can be handed in to Fishbot 5000 in exchange for a reward. During the contest, Fishbot 5000 can be found in Booty Bay, right next to Riggle Bassbait:
- Brownell’s Blue Striped Racer for Nat Pagle’s Extreme Anglin’ Boots
- Dezian Queenfish for some High Test Eternium Fishing Line
- Keefer’s Angelfish for a Lucky Fishing Hat.
Further information about each of the items can be found in the Fishing Gear section of the Equipment chapter. You will get the reward each time you hand in the rare fish. It does not matter how many you have handed in before, or who else may have caught or handed in the fish. Unlike the main contest, there is no competition for rare fish. Unlike Speckled Tastyfish, these rare fish can be stored between events (from Thalen), so you don’t need to hand them in immediately. Fishbot 5000 can only be found in Booty Bay on Sunday afternoon, so if you delay handing them in, you may need to wait till the following week to do so.
((There are a few “bugs” (software flaws) that may cause problems. On one occasion the realm server was restarted during the event. When it returned, both the Schools of Tastyfish and Riggle Bassbait had disappeared, leaving now-useless Speckled Tastyfish in our inventories. Catching a rare fish triggers a message asking you if you want to loot the item. Unfortunately, if you shift-click the bobber (auto-loot) and then re-cast too quickly, the rare fish disappears. For several weeks during patch 1.10, the pools remained after 16:00, and could be fished all night for rare fish.))
I have only won the contest once. Still, I have seen plenty of other people win it. Much of what is discussed here reflects the experiences of others.
There is no minimum character level to take part in the event. But most below level 30 will find themselves spending too much time evading monsters along the coast. They can still fish, but the chances of winning are lower. There are exceptions to this rule, for those that can run or hide, notably rogues (thanks Mizzy). At level 50, or above, the monsters completely ignore you. Mounts and trinkets that improve movement speed will reduce the time taken to move between pools. This is an important factor if you intend to win. However, having a mount isn’t critical: I have seen un-mounted competitors win more than once.
You will need sufficient fishing skill to reliably fish in Stranglethorn Vale. The absolute minimum skill to catch a fish there is 130, but if your effective fishing skill is less than 225 you may need to use lures stop fish getting away. If you are aiming to win, avoid fish getting away. If you have sufficient skill to fish in the area reliably, do not waste time applying lures – they won’t make you fish any faster. It will help if you are already experienced fishing pools, particularly pools in Stranglethorn Vale: You will know roughly how far away to stand to have a good chance of getting the bobber in the pool, and know the places pools might appear in.
There is no known reputation requirement to participate in the contest, although some people report problems talking to Riggle Bassbait while the Steamwheedle Cartel regard them as “unfriendly”. Fortunately most people will never drop below “neutral” standing.
The contest itself is a solitary activity – only one person can win. However, there are some advantages to convincing a non-competing companion to help you. One tactic, I have seen used to win the contest, involved using a second mounted scout to locate the next pool. They would clear any nearby monsters and “deter” anyone else from using it verbally. Kera writes: “Have a buddy ‘pretend’ to fish next to you” – it makes the pool you are fishing look over-used, and so encourages others to walk past in search of another. Another more exploitative tactic, reported by Brisby: “one person kept jumping up and down in front of my bobber, making it difficult to [reel in] when I had a bite”.
Where the faction are at war ((PvP realms)) an escort discourages “random” attacks. Large groups of “supporters” can cause havoc for the opposing faction, unless the opposing faction also has a large group of supporters, at which point Stranglethorn Vale can start to resemble the battlegrounds of Alterac Valley. Come to think of it, Stranglethorn Vale normally resembles Alterac Valley. Just with less snow.
You should visit Booty Bay before the contest starts to set your hearthstone at the inn. Thalen writes: “If you’re going to try to compete for the first place prize, you’ll probably want to set your hearthstone to the inn in Booty Bay. That will save you time getting back [to Riggle Bassbait] where you turn in the fish for the contest.” Make sure you haven’t used your hearthstone for at least 40 minutes before the start of the contest (since it can only be used once every hour).
Don’t start at Booty Bay itself. It is one place you are unlikely to find any Schools of Tastyfish. Instead be ready somewhere along the coast. Try and get there a few minutes before the contest is due to start, since it is often announced very slightly before 14:00. Dreadmon/Basilicus writes: “Try to avoid over-fished areas. You should start looking several minutes before the contest begins and find an under-populated area.”
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”.
At the start of the contest, Schools of Tastyfish will appear at points along the coast. As these are fished, they will disappear, and (in effect) re-appear at another location somewhere along the coast. With a lot of competitors, pools will be constantly be disappearing from one location and reappearing at another.
Kera writes: “A tactic I found to work really well – find a nice stretch of 5 or so fishing holes 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. But once the contest has been running for a few minutes you need to fish newly spawned pools, rather than the pools that appeared at the start. In a busy contest, these new pools are just as likely to be behind you as in front. If you know that the area behind you wasn’t being fished by anyone else, going back might be sensible.
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 Stranglethorn Vale. The reason is not entirely laziness: There are slightly more pools in the southern half of Stranglethorn Vale than in the northern part. So you will spend less time moving between them, and so catch more fish. Of course, there are now also more people trying to fish in those southern pools. So sometimes fishing the northern or central sections of the western coast can be very effective, because there is less competition. Personally I find the strongest starting location is in the centre of the western coast, just south of Grom’Gol Base Camp.
Dreadmon/Basilicus writes, “As soon as the pool vanishes, move on, preferably in a different direction than others are going.” Sometimes doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing can be successful. Be sure to 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 is avoided by most people, but can contain two or three pools.
Thalen again: “Finding a swirl to fish at as fast as you can is a priority. The less time you spend running/riding, the more time you’ll be fishing, so using a mount, or running as fast as possible, is essential.” Land travel is not the only option: “I find the pools easier to spot from underwater” (from Dreadmon/Basilicus).
Some people 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 say the first person to start fishing a pool owns it. There is a simple reason you may not want to share pools: “The quickest way to catch the Tastyfish for the main contest is to fish in swirls that aren’t crowded with other people. … If there are already 3 or more people fishing in a spot, it’s probably not worth stopping there.” (from Thalen). Each pool contains a certain number of fish. That number is the same regardless of how many people are fishing the pool. So if you are the only person fishing a pool, you will catch more fish from it.
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.
Where the factions are at war ((PvP realms)) killing the opposition might seem like a good strategy. I have never seen anyone win by doing it themselves. The reason is this: 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 more fish. Of course if you have no interest in fishing, or aren’t intending to win the contest, then the extravaganza represents an excellent opportunity to improve your military rank…
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 one 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.
Expect a winner to be announced within 25 to 35 minutes. The more contestants, the longer it takes, because everyone spends more time moving between pools. Never assume you have lost until a winner is 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, how many fish don’t bite, and what proportion of non-contest fish you catch.
Once the winner has been announced, there are still two good reasons to continue fishing:
- Speckled Tastyfish will earn you almost one gold a stack, which at lower levels is quite a reasonable income. If you fish for the full two hours, you should be able to catch 100-150 fish. The number of people fishing dramatically reduces once a winner has been announced, which makes it far easier to find fresh pools.
- You have a chance of catching some rare fish. If you plan to fish in the most difficult areas of Azeroth, the items gained from these fish are worth spending a few hours fishing for.
Based on around 500 catches, the “catch rate” on each of the rare fish from Schools of Tastyfish is less than 1 in 100 – probably about 1 in 200 for each type of rare fish. However, catch rate is very variable: 100 fish might be caught for no rare fish one week, and another week two out of the first 50 will be rare. If you want to catch all three rare fish, expect to fish for the full two hours over several events.
- Getting Started – Contains a simple summary of other factors affecting fish catches.
- Equipment – This chapter contains most fishing equipment.
- Frequently Asked Questions – This chapter contains short answers to the most common questions.
- Valuable Fish – This chapter describes other valuable fish, and how to catch them.
- Pools and Wreckage – This chapter describes basic pool-fishing techniques.
- Pool Appearance – This topic examines how pools of fish appear, and suggests some basic rules and timings.
- Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza – This chapter describes a contest based around pools of Tastyfish.
- Variation by Time – This topic explores how catch rates for fish vary by time of day.
- Catching Winter Squid – This topic explains the best place and time to catch Winter Squid.
- Catching Stonescale Eels – This topic answers the question, where is the best place to catch a Stonescale Eel?