By Cassandra Ramos
In the very first generation, there were many ways to encounter wild Pokémon: walking through tall grass, going into caves, surfing on water, and using a fishing rod. With 110 Water-types, roughly one-sixth of all Pokémon, many of which are only obtainable via fishing, players had to spend much time tossing their lines into seas, lakes, rivers, ponds, and even statues. Fishing has remained an important part of the Pokémon series, even as the mechanics have been tweaked from one generation to the next.
Fishing is a fairly simple affair in the first two generations. In Red, Blue, and Yellow, a rod has to be selected from the Items menu while next to a body of water (or a statue due to a glitch, though most of the time a "Looks like there's nothing here" message will pop up). Once the line is cast, there is a chance that a Pokémon will bite or not. Repeat if the "Not even a nibble. . ." message pops up. The first games also introduce the notion of having three separate, increasingly stronger rods as the player progresses. The first is the Old Rod, a fishing pole so poor that only Magikarp, one of the weakest of all Pokémon will bite. Later games have the Old Rod capture other different, but weak Water-types like Poliwag and Tentacool. The Good Rod hooks more Pokémon at a higher level, while the Super Rod can catch the highest level and rarest Pokémon. It's the only way to fish up any Dratini. While not exclusive to the fishing rods, Gold, Silver, and Crystal Versions add the ability to map a key item to the Select button, making it easier to fish as the menu doesn't have to be opened every time.
The third and fourth generations introduce more interactive fishing. Rather than just selecting a rod and waiting to see if any Pokémon are hooked, a player has to wait until the message "Oh, a bite!" appears and the character starts to pull on the rod. Wait too long to press A and the creature will get away. If it's Ruby, Sapphire, or Emerald, though, a player won't necessarily reel the Pokémon in once the button is pressed. It's possible, but more likely the process will be repeated one, two or even three more times. Not surprisingly, some people find this tedious. What's more tedious is the search for a fish Pokémon called Feebas. Much like Magikarp, it is weak, but it evolves into the beautiful and powerful eel-like creature Milotic. Have fun catching it, though, as it can only be found in six random "tiles" of water in the river on Route 119. Not only will the player have to comb the entire river spot by spot, they may want to fish at least three times each, as Feebas are not exclusive to the tile (though still fairly common). While these games do introduce the ability to fish while surfing on the back of a Pokémon, the pleasant image of fishing while reclining on a Marshtomp in the middle of a scenic river is a bit undermined by the tediousness of Feebas hunting. On a somewhat positive note, a Good or Super Rod can catch the ugly fishy. In Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum, players again have to search for every spot of a body of water for Feebas, except it's in many small ponds in Mt. Coronet. The four spots change daily, unlike in the third generation when the spots only change when the Dewford Town trendy phrase changes. At least in the fourth generation, the A button only has to be tapped once after seeing an exclamation point appear over the character's head to reel the Pokémon in.
As for the latest generation of games, Black and White, some long-standing traditions are removed and one new mechanic is added. Like the previous generation, the player only has to press A once as soon as they land a bite. However, some individuals may have been disappointed to discover that they cannot fish until the main game is beaten, as a fishing rod will not be obtained until then. Not being able to fish relatively early on? What heresy! Well, at least the Super Rod is recieved right off the bat instead of being given the Old and Good Rods first, as they become useless quickly. There is also a nifty new way to fish for especially rare Pokémon. In bodies of water, the player will occasionally see dark spots. By throwing their line into such a spot, normally rare Pokémon become much easier to find, or a species you can't catch otherwise may be hooked. That hard to find Dratini in the water around Dragonspiral Tower can be caught more easily and perhaps a Dragonair or Dragonite could on the line instead! How the heck a Super Rod can reel in a 463 pound dragon is anyone's guess, though it's been able to reel in Pokémon as heavy as Gyarados (518 pounds) since Yellow Version.
In some ways, fishing is more than just a mini-game in the Pokémon series. True, there is no need to fish whatsoever in any of the games, but it's essential to anyone who wants to complete their Pokédex. Even if you're not a collector, Water-types are useful in battles throughout the game as well as for those who enjoy battling against human players. Many popular Pokémon can also be obtained only or more easily through fishing, such as the aforementioned Milotic, Gyarados, the Dratini line, Staryu/Starmie, and others. Some games even have a character give out prizes as items for fishing up big Pokémon, such as Magikarp in Gold/Silver/Crystal (and their remakes) and Barboach in Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald. Don't forget about the ubiquitous Fisherman trainer class, which has been in every game since the beginning. It's an important part of the games, so don't hesitate to break out that Super Rod and toss a line into the nearest body of water. Good luck, especially to those of you searching for Feebas in the third and fourth generation games!
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