Cooking and fishing can be somewhat boring to level. If you don't keep them up as you get xp, they'll fall behind and you'll then have to visit lower level zones. But who wants to stop and fish for a dozen hours when there's level to be gained? The eternal dilemma...
Whether you decide to use this guide once at level cap or while leveling doesn't matter, this guide does, however, try to make you save some time by showing you how to strategically fish in order to increase your cooking skill.
Fishing is pretty much always going to be lower than your cooking. Fishing just takes a lot more time and patience than cooking ever will.
The formula for leveling fishing is as follows:
(current unmodified fishing level - 75) / 25 = total # of catches required to level
Minimum of 1 catch per level.
Fishing in higher level water can still be done, and you will still catch things... just rarely fish. You'll get gray items such as Sickly Fish and Tattered Cloth. Those still count as a catch and can still give you a skill up. Raising your skill level increases your chance to actually get fish or other valuable items and speeds up your cast time. Lures are useful because of this and mostly dirt cheap, so there's no reason not to grab a few.
During your travels, you'll most likely come across schools of fish or wreckages that can be fished out of. You have an increased chance of getting the fish for which the pool is named by doing so. Fishing out of a pool is a bit counter-intuitive, you simply need to be standing in front of it and cast your line... and hope it falls in it. It can take several casts and there's no real way to improve your odds. In Azeroth, most of the fish schools are used to get fish that are Alchemy components, and thus won't be much use for someone trying to level cooking. Things change in Outland and Northrend, however.
This guide will send you all over Azeroth and Outland to gather cooking recipes, and, whenever possible, you should grab all the recipes from the vendors, not only those suggested in this guide. Knowing more recipes will help you get Sous Chef & The Outland Gourmet.
| The first thing to do, of course, is to get Fishing and Cooking trained. You can click on the link to find out where the trainers are, or simply ask a guard.|
Once that's done, find the nearest body of low level water - Stormwind City and Orgrimmar are two good spots, but other lowbie zones such as Elwynn Forest or The Barrens (off the coast) work just as well.
| Just keep fishing until you level to 50 in fishing and cook every fish you get. Save any Raw Longjaw Mud Snapper in your bag. Once you hit 50, you can learn how to cook them and that recipe will allow you to reach 100 in cooking, at which point you need to move out.|
It's not a bad idea to raise your cooking to 125, even if the recipe becomes yellow and green - the extra cast will pad your fishing skill and being able to become a Journeyman cook right away will save you having to come back to train during the next step.
| Make your way to Hillsbrad Foothills. You'll need to buy Recipe: Bristle Whisker Catfish from either Lindea Rabonne in Southshore or Derak Nightfall in Tarren Mill. Now head over to the river that splits the zone in two, find a comfy spot, sit down, grab a few cold ones and fish away. |
You'll need to fish here until you hit level 150 and get up to 175 cooking from those fish. If you did not train Journeyman cooking, never fear, you have to go back to train fishing anyway. Just make sure you keep an ample supply of fish in your bag.
| Since you're in the Hillsbrad Foothills, this is a good time to get some achievements done. You should find some floating wreckage in the sea, fishing from one of the wrecks will give you The Old Gnome and the Sea as well as give you credit for the Schooner Wreckage toward the The Scavenger achievement. |
You might as well totally fish out any wreckage you find. You have a good chance of fishing out a crate that will contain a Weather-Beaten Journal; which on top of granting you the Fish Don't Leave Footprints achievement, will also give you Find Fish which is a very useful ability later on. Don't obsess over getting the book however. You will have several occasions to get it later if you don't fish it out now.
| The Horde and Alliance path split here, Alliance players should already have their Recipe: Mithril Head Trout. Horde players will need to go over to Desolace to buy it from Wulan. They will also find a fishing trainer, Lui'Mala there. Alternatively, you can buy the recipe from Shankys and train there as well.|
Once you're all set up, it's time to fish again. There are several places to get the trout, but you might as well go to the closest one. For the Alliance players, from Hillsbrad Foothills, the closest spots are the ponds in front of Arathi Highlands. Just head over there and start fishing.
Since the Horde just flew all the way over to Desolace, backtracking to the Arathi Highlands would be a pretty big time waster - your closest spot from there is Thousand Needles. There is a small lake by the centaur camp, you can fish the trout there. Don't forget to hit the Floating Wreckage by the coast of Feralas on your way there.
If you've decided to train in Orgrimmar, then it's up to you whether you want to go back to Arathi or hit Thousand Needles.
This one of the first of many long stretches in fishing. You have to fish those trout until you hit 225 fishing. Your cooking will easily reach 225 from cooking them all. At this point, it's time for another visit to the trainer and a change of scenery.
You'll want to head over to Steamwheedle Port in Tanaris. If you're high enough level and have access to Dalaran, the simplest way to get there is to take the portal to the Cavern of Time in the Violet Citadel and simply ride over. Here, you'll want to buy the Recipe: Nightfin Soup, Recipe: Spotted Yellowtail and Recipe: Poached Sunscale Salmon from Gikkix.|
From there, you can simply fish in the nearby water for Yellowtail. You should achieve level 250 in cooking fairly quickly from your Yellowtail stash. The water near Raventusk Village actually has a better rate for those fish, but since you're already in Tanaris, this is probably the better spot.
Once you hit 250 cooking, learn the 2 other recipes and head over to Feralas.
Don't worry if your fishing isn't at 250 when you go there, getting some lures can more than make up for it. Here you'll be fishing for Sunscale Salmons and Nightfins. Which one you get depends on the time of the day, but it ultimately doesn't matter since you can cook both and they will both give you the same amount of skill up. You could technically get to cooking 300 from these, but at around 290 they become green and gives skill up extremely slowly. Save yourself some time and follow the next step.|
At 275 cooking, Horde players will want to go see Sheendra Tallgrass and Alliance players Vivianna in order to buy Recipe: Lobster Stew and Mightfish Steak. Then you head over to Azshara, Scalebeard's Cave to be precise, and fish there for Mightfish and Lobsters.
I would not worry about getting fishing to 300 at this point. Your cooking will reach 300 fairly easily, but fishing will really start to drag. You'll probably have to make an habit of using lures for the next few steps of this guide, unless you're actually patient enough to increase your fishing to 300... I wasn't. Once you're at around 275 fishing and have some lures, you will be ready for what comes next.
I personally found this stretch to be one of the toughest and most boring of the fishing grind. Skill up will start taking noticeably longer at this point and you have no achievements or quests to keep you occupied. Bear with it. It gets better in Outland.
You're about to leave Azeroth and if you've done things correctly, you simply won't have to come back here for a long time. So you might as well get a few things done. |
On the achievement front, you should make sure you've visited Stranglethorn Vale - Coastal and Rivers, Hillsbrad Foothills and Feralas for the Bloodsail Wreckage, Waterlogged Wreckage and Floating Wreckages. This will put you one short of the achievement. The only one you're missing is in Zangarmash in Outland, and you'll be heading there soon enough.
There's also Deadliest Catch, which is described in the link. If you're not at level cap yet and using this guide as you level, I would suggest waiting. However, if you're at level cap, there's no reason not to go grab it. It will give you an excuse to go to STV to get those wreckages, as well as to go see Nat Pagle.
Speaking of Old Man Pagle, you should seriously consider grabbing his quest for the +25 fishing rod it'll give you. The quest is easy, but it does involve a certain amount of traveling. The great thing about it is that it'll most likely give you a bunch of skill ups in fishing as well, and at this point your fishing will most likely be way behind your cooking.
Make sure you train both fishing and cooking. Grab a bunch of lures and head over to Outland.
Once in Outland, the focus changes. Since all of Outland is encompassed between the 300 to 375 fishing range, if you have a good fishing pole and some lures, you can effectively fish and get a good catch anywhere. I would highly suggest mixing your fishing and cooking leveling with achievement collecting and quests. This will help make the whole thing feel like less of a grind, since at this skill level, skill-ups are going to coming in much slower.|
The quests here are those given out by The Rokk and Old Man Barlo. Completing them all will give you Kickin' It Up a Notch and Old Man Barlowned. Doing The Rokk's quest is also the only way to get some of the rare recipes to earn The Outland Gourmet.
Even if you're not interested in the achievements, Old Man Barlo's quest reward will give you a lot of very strong lures (+100) and can also earn you the Weather-Beaten Journal if you haven't fished it out yet. The Rokk's reward will always include plenty of fish and meat, which you can cook for cheap skill ups.
But onward with the guide!
The first thing you'll want to do is head over to Zangarmash. There, you'll want to buy the Recipe: Blackened Trout from Doba if you're Alliance and from Gambarinka if you're Horde. You can start fishing in Zangarmash, the trout are a fairly common catch here and you'll even find schools of them. You might as well find some Steam Pump Floatsome and complete your The Scavenger achievement as well. Once you have about 20 or so trout, cook them all to reach 320 and head over to Nagrand.|
In Nagrand, you'll find Recipe: Poached Bluefish from Uriku if you're Alliance and from Nula the Butcher if you're Horde. As you can probably guess, the next step involves fishing for Bluefin in Nagrand.
It isn't much of a step up, but Recipe: Golden Fish Sticks sold in Terokkar by Innkeeper Biribi and Rungor will yield you a couple more cooking skill ups as well as another change of scenery - the golden darter can be fished out of the rivers of Terokkar.|
The last step in the cooking process here is reached when you hit 350. At that point you'll be able to learn Spicy Crawdad, which will easily get you to 375 and above. This recipe is also sold by Biribi and Rungor. The crawdads however, can only be fished out of Highland Mixed Schools and requires a high fishing level in order to yield any decent catch. Using lures is favorable here. The schools require a flying mount to get to and are found near Skettis in Terokkar Forest.
While flying over Outland, make sure to keep an eye out for the 6 different schools of fish, since fishing from all of them yield the Outland Angler achievement.|
You might also want to make a pit stop at Serpentshrine Cavern and fish the Lurker Below for the achievement. And if you're particularly patient, you can even try to fish out mr. pinchy from one of the Highland Mixed Schools for yet another achievement.
In short, no matter what you do, you'll have to net over 600 catch to go from 300 to 375. You don't really need to hit 375 to go to Northrend, but you should most likely at least get 350. So don't be afraid to find ways to make this more fun or to entertain yourself with the quests and achievements, which ultimately help you with skill ups anyway. Think of it this way - you're better off working on those achievements while you're getting skill ups from them than to spend countless hours doing them while you're at 450.
When you're ready, train up fishing and cooking once more, re-stock on lures if needed, and head over to Northrend.
Fishing remains much the same in Northrend. Since the entire continent is all within 375-450 fishing, you can once again fish pretty much anywhere if you have good lures. What changes however, is cooking. The recipes of Northrend aren't sold by vendors all over the map anymore. There are a few earned by quests and you'll be able to learn a lot from the Cooking trainers... but any recipes that are over 400 cooking need to be bought by the Dalaran Cooking Award from the cooking vendors in Dalaran. And the only way to earn those awards are to do Dalaran cooking dailies. Most of the good Northrend recipes also require Northern Spices which are given from a cooking daily, limiting the number of meals you can create per day.|
You can of course still fish and cook those fish to get skill ups, but getting to 450 cooking doesn't do all that much for you anymore if you don't have the recipes you actually want to use or if you've burned up all your spices getting there.
Since you can also fish anywhere with a good lure and fishing pole, getting to 450 fishing also become much less important.
Still, your first step should be to visit a Northrend cooking trainer and learn all the recipes for sale. You'll learn many fish recipes, but the most plentiful and easiest to find fish in Northrend are the Imperial Manta Ray, used to cook Baked Manta Ray. You'll find many schools of those on the sea shore of Northrend. Just sit there and fish. The recipes will quickly become green, but it should be good enough to take you to cooking 390. |
At 390, you should go visit the cooking trainer again and learn how to make a Great Feast. This item requires no fish at all, but it will be yellow when you learn it, meaning it'll allow you to get to 400 much faster than by catching tons of fish and cooking them for minimal return.
At 400, we go back to fishing once again. The next and last recipe the cooking trainer will teach you is the black jelly, which can be made with 3 Borean Man O'War. The Man O'War can be fished from schools in the sea, usually near the border between Dragonblight and Borean Tundra. Since you need 3 of them to even cook a Black Jelly, this will be a somewhat slow skill up process, but this recipe is the last one you'll get that can give you a skill up without having to use Northern Spices. The Great Feast and the Black Jelly will remain green until 425 cooking, at which point you will need to use Dalaran recipes in order to skill up further. |
Now that you've reached 400 cooking, you'll be able to learn the recipes earned by Dalaran Cooking Awards. Those recipes have the benefits of staying yellow and giving better skill up than the Black Jelly for a much longer time. Simply pick one that requires a fish... I would personally suggest one of the Angelfish recipes. Those are highly sought after by melee dps so you might make some gold out of selling them and since Angelfish can be fished from Dragonblight (a low level fishing zone for Northrend) you'll get a lot of catch.
The ultimate goal of cooking in Northrend is to get 450 and learn the Fish Feast, which is the biggest draw of being a cook in this expansion. You can get to 450 simply by cooking the angel fish over and over again. But in order to do that, you'll have to keep doing cooking dailies for Northern spices... and it's really up to you if you want to use your awards to buy spices or new recipes, depending on if you want to get to 450 as fast as possible or if you want to have recipes for all possible buffs. |
Fishing, as I've said before, loses a bit of its importance. You'll be fully capable of fishing anywhere in Northrend and get a reasonable catch if you're at 350 or more and using a good lure (+100) and a decent fishing pole. You'll most likely get a lot of skill ups while grabbing fish for cooking, but as always, fishing will most likely lag behind. Getting fishing to 450 at this point is only for your own satisfaction or if you want to get ready for the next expansion which is sure to increase the fishing cap once again.
Luckily, Blizzard was kind enough to give tons of achievements for the fisher in Northrend. You can fish for coins from the Dalaran fountain. You can work on the fishing dailies, which will also net you some decent gold. Or you can go fishing for a non-combat pet and for a special mount. And of course, you should keep an eye out for the various fish schools and earn your Northrend Angler achievement.