The Road to Mordor: Fishing frenzy

Way back in the olden times of yore, henceforth referred to as "2008," Lord of the Rings Online released its first -- and to date, only -- hobby in the game: fishing. While we wait for a second hobby to make its way into the game (the popular rumor is golf), I thought it'd be interesting to take a look at this interesting side activity in LotRO.

I'll admit that fishing bores me, both in real life and in virtual games. In both, it's a lot of waiting, a ton of non-interaction, and the occasional flashes of activity. The end result is edible and odd but nevertheless compelling to some folks. MMOs have a long history of incorporating fishing as a minigame or side activity, usually given to players as something to do when they're waiting on something else. I've noticed that roleplayers are big fans of the rod-and-reel, probably because it's defiantly against the grain. In a world of power-levelers, danger-seekers, and quest-undergoers, taking large chunks of time to stand in one spot and watch for a couple of pixels to bob shows that you walk a path less traveled.

I get the impression that there are many people in the game who don't even know that fishing exists or perhaps who dabbled once and never gave it another thought. Even if fishing isn't typically your bag, Turbine's dangled a few tempting rewards from the hooks of fishermen's labors -- enough that it prompted me to take a closer look this week.

Basic Fishing 101

At its core, fishing is a pretty basic activity, especially when compared with gathering and crafting professions. Anyone can pick up fishing at any level and do it pretty much anywhere. Well, anywhere with water. And fish. Water and fish are essential; write that down, class!

The first step is to talk to a hobby master in one of the main hubs. He or she will activate fishing as a skill for you and give you a basic fishing pole. After that, you simply need to head over to a pond, river, or lake; equip your pole (it helps to put your weapon and fishing pole on your hotbar to easily swap between the two); and activate the skill. Keep staring at the pole, line, and bobber until you start getting tunnel vision and feel as though the blackness is closing in on you. Remember, this is relaxing!

When there are signs that you've hooked a fish, click the skill again, and hopefully you'll reel up a nice catch. Don't be discouraged if all you get is junk -- this happens a lot. Be persistent and remember: Fishing is supposed to be a hobby, not a 10-man raid. Like many features of LotRO, it's up to your tolerance for repetition as to whether this is fun or pointless.

If you're particularly fortunate, you'll gain a fishing skill point after a successful catch, although this does not happen every time. You can only gain up to 10 skill points every day, so the climb to the skill cap will take some time. However, if you set your mind to it, 15 minutes every day or two will have you to level 200 in no time.

Advanced Fishing 201

Expert anglers know that there are a few ways to get the catch they want, and I see no reason why you should be excluded from this elite and smelly group.

Make it a priority to snag a better quality fishing pole from a crafter or the auction house. A Well-Crafted Lebethron Fishing Rod will bump up your fishing skill by +5, enabling you to catch better fish than you would have otherwise.

Fishing in higher-level areas such as Moria, Angmar, and Mirkwood will reward you with better-quality fish. This is necessary if you're chasing certain rare trophies.

Occasionally fishing comes in handy for quests and festival events, so it's not all personal relaxation and self-promotion. A good chunk of the Summer Festival revolves around fishing in various spots around Middle-earth, for example. Fishermen are the only folks who can take up the repeatable quest Bounty of the Sea from the Lossoth in Forochel, which is a good way to both increase your fishing skill while you up your reputation.

The payoff

As a money-maker, fishing is not that lucrative, but it can pay off in other ways than mere coin. Fishing is the only way to gain a number of housing trophies that can fill the blank spaces on your walls at home. The hobby also grants several fun titles for special accomplishments.

Depending on your fishing skill and location, there's always a possibility that you'll pull a rare (purple) fish from the waters. These fish can be turned in to a taxidermist to be mounted as a trophy, although some trophies require that you catch all types of fish in a group (such as all nine Darters) before you get the reward. Personally, I think no home is complete without a giant goldfish watching over the place while you're away!

There are nine fishing deeds that reward titles, trophies and Turbine Points. Catch the huge 50-pound Salmon to be crowned the Compleat Angler, or collect all nine varieties of Darters, Strugeons and Trouts to gain a master title of each domain. You also get titles when you hit various skill milestones: 10, 50, 100, 150, and 200.

If you're looking for unique titles that don't often grace the heads of players, these are just the thing to set you apart. "You may have bested a Balrog single-handedly," your title will tell others, "but I caught a really, really, really big fish!"

It's worth mentioning that a few of your catches are useful in cooking recipes, which syngerizes well with those who are working on that profession. Cooked fish are great for stat buffs, particularly because they'll increase two of your stats for a period of time instead of just one stat that several other types of food do. The Lossoth have a handful of recipes if you work up the reputation ladder. It makes sense for the Lossoth to offer them, too, seeing as they're a fish-based culture.

Fishing resources

As with any other facet of LotRO, fishing has been dissected and discussed extensively since 2008. This means that there is a wealth of other resources out on the web, and I'd be remiss not to point you toward a few of them.

Good luck if you decide to become a Compleat Angler, and who knows -- maybe one day I'll be one of you!

When not enjoying second breakfast and a pint of ale, Justin "Syp" Olivetti jaws about hobbits in his Lord of the Rings Online column, The Road to Mordor. You can contact him via email at or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.