I could almost hate fishing, and I suspect most players do. It's a fairly passive activity that requires your attention in 20-second bursts, playing havoc with your ability to tab out and write articles/watch Chuck/throw foil balls for the cat. Blizzard made some noise a while back about changing the profession to be more like its incarnation in games like Animal Crossing, but nothing really big has happened in Cataclysm. I can only assume that Blizzard hasn't come to a decision on what it wants to do. In the meantime, it seems content to torture us as much as possible with the profession's existing mechanics.
Case in point: The Oceanographer and The Limnologist, two achievements introduced in Cataclysm that, while not part of the "Salty" meta, are a siren call to masochistic fishermen everywhere. Today we're going to tackle The Oceanographer, which will keep you in coastal areas for the most part.
Most of the fish that you'll need to catch for The Oceanographer are not terribly rare, but there's one fish that promises to reacquaint you with the term "screaming nightmare." There are also two seasonal fish here, but this is less a problem than you might think.
Beginning the search
The Oceanographer requires significant travel time, but you can save yourself a lot of work by condensing the catches you'll need to make into the fewest zones possible. I've organized all 33 fish by what I feel is the most efficient way to get this achievement done with the least amount of digital shoe leather wastage.
If you're any kind of fisherman at all, you're probably not starting this achievement from scratch, but if you are --
- Fly to the Cape of Stranglethorn and park yourself on Jaguero Island. While here, you can catch the Big-Mouth Clam, the Raw Rockscale Cod, the Raw Glossy Mightfish, and the Raw Spotted Yellowtail. After you catch these, fly north to run alongside the Cape itself until you find pools of Firefin Snapper and Oily Blackmouth. It might be necessary to run along the western edge of the coast in order to find both or to fish out other pools until the one you need spawns. However, both are fairly common pools in old Azeroth, so if your luck is poor, just make a mental note to pick up a pool elsewhere.
- Fly north to Northern Stranglethorn. Strictly speaking, this isn't really necessary as you can easily pick up the Raw Rainbow Fin Albacore in lots of other zones, but eh -- it's a pretty minor detour from the Cape.
- Fly north to Westfall. This is another minor detour that's not hugely necessary to make, but Westfall's close, and you can pick up the Raw Slitherskin Mackerel off the coast.
- Fly southeast until you reach the coast of the Blasted Lands. While here, fish up the Darkclaw Lobster, the Large Raw Mightfish, the Raw Summer Bass/Winter Squid (see note below), and the Stonescale Eel. After you've got these, head for the river in the Tainted Forest for the Raw Sunscale Salmon (please note that this can only be caught between noon and 6 p.m. server time), the Raw Whitescale Salmon, and the Bloated Salmon (see note below). What these three fish are doing in the same waters you'll be fishing up the Raw Nightfin Snapper for The Limnologist, I have no idea, but just take the gift and run.
The Raw Summer Bass and Winter Squid are seasonal fish, but for a good half of the year (and happily for us, in a stretch that's approaching as I write this), you can catch both at the same time. Neither is rare while available:
- December through February Winter Squid only
- March through May Both
- June through August Raw Summer Bass only
- September through November Both
Sorry, folks; this is the achievement's biggest hurdle. The Bloated Salmon's drop rate is, for lack of a better word, miserable. You'll see it estimated at <1% on most data sites, but what that really means is that it's probably a 1 in 1,000 catch at best. The one benefit of fishing for it in the Tainted Forest is that you'll also have a shot at the 29 Pound Salmon if you, like me, are still arse out of luck on One That Didn't Get Away.
Resigned yourself to the long slog? Let's assume for the moment that you're the luckiest bastard in existence and you nailed a Bloated Salmon on your first try. Assuming you've kept up with the guide so far, we've knocked 16 of the 33 fish off the list in four zones with minimum travel time. At this point, we're going to make a quick trip up north to get one more:
- Fly north to the Badlands. While here, fish up the Raw Redgill. You may actually be able to catch this in the same channel where you caught the two Salmon in the Blasted Lands, but I haven't personally confirmed this.
- Backtrack to the Blasted Lands. Once you're back, head for the portal to Outland and then take a taxi or fly to Shattrath.
- Head for the Isle of Quel'Danas. Fish up the Giant Sunfish, the Bloated Giant Sunfish, and the Jaggal Clam. Afterwards, I would recommend hearthing to wherever you're headquartered in old Azeroth. Assuming you've previously unlocked it, you can do the Know Your Ley Lines daily in order to get a free teleport back to Shattrath, but that probably won't do you any good with the removal of portals from the city.
- Vashj'ir This one's a bit interesting in that the Abyssal Clam has to be looted rather than fished. if you've leveled in Vashj'ir at all, you've almost certainly gotten a million of these already, but if you haven't, a quick swim around the Shimmering Expanse and a few kills should net you one. Again, any time spent leveling here previously almost certainly means you won't have to make another trip out here because the Clam is such a common drop.
- Twilight Highlands It's generally most convenient to catch the Murglesnout, Algaefin Rockfish, and the Deepsea Sagefish all in one session along the coast here.
- Tol Barad While you can catch the Fathom Eel along the coast in Uldum as well (and you'll need to if you're not 85 yet and can't go to Tol Barad), it's almost always faster just to port to TB and fish an eel up from one of the many pools there.
- Darkshore Catch the Darkshore Grouper along the coast here.
You should be able to knock off all the fish here quite easily in just two zones. Moving west to east:
- Borean Tundra The Imperial Manta Ray, the Borean Man O' War, and the Darkwater Clam can all be caught here. The first two can be caught in their own pools if you want, but the Clam is an open water catch. You'll almost certainly nab a Pygmy Suckerfish if you hit a school. Odds are pretty decent that you'll also grab a Moonglow Cuttlefish while you're here, but if you don't, you can just catch one in the Frozen Sea.
- The Frozen Sea If you don't remember where this is, you'll find it along the southern coast of Northrend. If you're looking for a particular spot, my own personal favorite is the Titan ruins off the coast of Dragonblight. Fish up the Deep Sea Monsterbelly, the Rockfin Grouper, and -- if you didn't get one randomly in the Borean Tundra -- a Moonglow Cuttlefish. You can find both Monsterbelly and Cuttlefish schools in The Frozen Sea if you want, but otherwise, all three fish can also be nabbed from open water.
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