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How I caught the rare stringfish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

I won't lie. It was a reel chore

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Animal Crossing: New Horizons on the Nintendo Switch ($300 at Amazon) is full of amazing flora and fauna, with plenty of fish to catch, bugs to net and fruit to harvest (here are our 8 best Animal Crossing tips). But it's also got a variety of rare species of fish that you can only get when the elements are just so. 

This includes the stringfish -- a fish so rare it'll net you a whopping 15,000 bells (the game's currency) should you decide to sell it. After hours of trying, I finally caught one. Here's how.

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First up, I did my research. Some fish -- the stringfish among them -- only appear at certain times of the year, in certain types of water, during certain weather or at certain times of day. Our pals over at Gamespot have put together a handy guide to all the fish, including how to catch them and how much they sell for. 

The stringfish is only available to catch between December and March, and as it was already March 24, I knew time was against me. The guide told me that the fish only appears in rivers at the top of cliffs between 4 p.m. and 9 a.m. I had my plan.


You'll need the ladder to get up to the clifftop river sections.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

There were a few bits of kit I needed for my mission; a fishing rod, of course, bait (I'll come back to that) and a ladder to access the upper areas where the right sort of river can be found. You get the ladder once you've built the museum and the shop and Tom Nook gives you the mission to build three houses for new residents. 

To attract fish to an area, you need bait. To get bait, you first need the crafting recipe for it, and you need Manila clams. You'll find these on the beach. As you walk up and down the sand, you'll see little spurts of water coming up -- use your shovel to dig up where a spurt appeared, and bingo, you have a clam. One clam can be crafted into one bit of bait. 


Notice the little water squirt in the bottom of the screen? That's a manila clam.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

In total I think I gathered over 100 clams to craft into bait. I also crafted multiple flimsy fishing rods, as I knew they'd break often during the fishing process and I didn't want to keep having to craft new ones. Yes, I could have made a more durable fishing rod, but that requires iron nuggets and I was saving those. 

The whole process went thus: walk on sand to gather clams. Craft clams into bait. With 30 bait in pockets, along with three rods, use ladder to access upper level and stand next to river. Throw in bait. Catch what arrives. 


This, but basically a million times.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

It's a long process, and let me tell you; it's not the most thrilling gameplay. It took me over a hundred goes (I didn't keep full count) and I caught numerous loach, black bass and a few salmon in the process, all of which I sold for bells. I spent hours going back and forth to find more clams on the beach, doing my crafting and then trying again. 

And then it was genuinely at the last minute -- as I used my last bit of bait, as my last fishing rod was on its last go, as the clock was approaching 1 a.m. -- that I did it: the "OH MY GOSH" dialog box appeared and I knew I'd done it: the stringfish was mine!

I took it straight to the museum for Blathers the owl to add to his collection and went straight to bed, tired, but satisfied with my efforts. 


It looks majestic in the museum.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

So it can be done, it just takes effort, patience and perseverance. Of course, you might also luck into finding one on your first try, in which case may I express how infuriating I find you? 

If you're playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, make sure to check out our top tips and hit me up on Twitter with @batteryhq to show off your best catches. 


My happy face.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Next up: hunting down the similarly rare golden trout, barreleye, coelacanth and sturgeon, all of which can be captured this time of year. There aren't enough hours in the day...

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