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Red Dead Redemption 2 fishing guide: from small fry to deadliest catch

Pearls before swine

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So the camp is getting bored of meat, and you fancy learning a new activity that takes a little bit more skill than firing buckshot into helpless animals. Red Dead Redemption 2 offers up plenty of activities to earn money, and whilst it isn’t the most lucrative, it’s a lot of fun, and the attached side quests can be very rewarding. 

In this article, we’ve pinned down a set of tips to ensure you’re at the top of your game when you’re knee deep in the shallows.

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Baby steps

Before we start with the tips, it’s probably best that you know how to fish. There’s a cute mission with Jack Marston that explains it well, but if you need a primer, hold L1/LB to bring up your radial menu, then hit R1/RB to advance to the item selector, where you’ll find the Fishing Rod in the bottom right corner. Bear in mind, you can only use it when you’re near a bed of water, but if you didn’t know that then maybe this guide isn’t for you.

Moving on. Prime your rod with L2/LT and cast it into the water with R2/RT. The longer you hold the further the cast will be. Slowly reel with the right stick to entice fish and hit R2/RT to catch when you get a strong nibble. From then on in the activity becomes decidedly frantic, but the key piece of advice is that when a fish struggles you must pull your rod in the opposite direction to keep it from breaking the line. You can tell if it’s testing the line via the vibrations. Reel real hard with the right stick and pull back on the left stick to angle your rod up and speed up the process.

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Push the boat out

This is a pretty nondescript tip, but an extremely helpful one nonetheless. If you want to get into a full-time fishing career you’re probably best-suited picking up a boat. Luckily, after the mission where Dutch and Hosea take you for a fish and a sing-song during your arrival at the third camp, you can purchase an upgrade in the ledger for $450. You will pay an old man to give you his boat, which will appear near the camp and give you easy access to the water. 

Do this as soon as you can if you want to save time getting out into the open water and quit being landlocked by the shore.

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Lagras is always greener

The best-kept secret in fishing, Lagras is your one-stop shop for bait, lures and the like. Once you get a nibble that’s your bait lost, win or lose, so this place is essential. To my knowledge, it’s the only shop on the map that offers this kind of service, so missing out on it is foolish. 

Go here when you need to stock up on supplies or just chat with the friendly shopkeeper. You can fast travel here from the camp once you unlock that particular upgrade, making it easy to get to despite it being a bit out in the sticks.

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Bubble bobber

Once you’ve got your bait and lures you can head out, but every fish has certain parameters for what it likes to see in the water before deciding to bite. Small fries will bother with rubbish bait like bread and corn, but bigger fish like Lake Sturgeon and Largemouth Bass will only be tempted by expensive bobber bait like Crayfish or Lures specific to the environment they’re found in, like the Lake Lure. 

Remember that lure fishing requires you to reel slowly until you find something, whereas bait is much more relaxed, requiring little input beyond flicking, a tactic you can employ with R2 to attract nearby fish if you’re struggling to find a bite. Do it too much though, and it’ll spook the nearby fish and leave your line lonely. If this is all a bit much for you, you can always just lob a stick of dynamite into the river and enjoy the fruits of your carnage. Different strokes, and all that...

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I bless the rains

As well as lure and bobber affinity, some fish can only be caught in certain environments, and often, during a particular patch of inclement weather. Whilst most of this is felt out during play and not so rigid (meaning you can catch them if you ignore some of these parameters), it might help you to know that Sockeye Salmon are found in rivers and love sunny weather, whereas Trout mostly make their homes in rivers and come out when its raining. 

As a rule though, it’s best to fish when the weather is clear to increase the amount of possible catches and ensure you don’t waste your time unless you’re looking for something very specific.

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Keep your wits about you

As well as being a fantastic spot for fishing, The Bayou is a terrifying place, especially at night, with ghosts, Night Folk and other creepy crawlies out to get you. If you decide to post up there, make sure you’ve got the defences to back it up. This goes for everywhere you decide to fish, but the swamplands are particularly dangerous. 

Careful with crocodiles too, especially in low visibility as they can easily drag you in the water and turn you to mush as you’re meandering across islets in search of big bass.

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Bigger fish to fry

If you’re bored of Bluegills and Pickerel all the time, take yourself to see Jeremy at Flat Iron Lake and he will set you up with the Legendary Fish challenge. Check the trusty accompanying map to see where the particular fish dwell and get ready for a proper scrap when you rock up with your lures. 

These fish do not mess around and you could spend up to an hour reeling if you aren’t practised. This is where the special lures come in handy which are designed to attract legendary sea creatures. Pick these up from Lagras for $20 each as early as possible to ensure you don’t flounder against the Titans. For an extra tip, angle your rod upwards and reel in short bursts when they’re tired to make the most of the time you get in between struggle-battles.

Jordan Oloman

Jordan Oloman is a journalist and documentarian with experience across the pop culture/tech spectrum writing reported features, reviews. news, guides, op-eds and more for a wide variety of outlets. He is also an affiliate streamer on Twitch and have previous experience in scriptwriting, podcasting, game consultation and creating video content.