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Fishing Mastery idea to encourage active, cooperative fishing and helps players target rare catches: Release fish you've already collected for party members to try to catch

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As I worked my way through the fishing achievements and completed Cod Swimming Amongst Mere Minnows, I used some of the plentiful time that I spent grinding trying to come up with a suggestion to help ease some of the most brutal aspects of high-RNG fishing. What I came up with should hopefully help to reward and encourage actively cooperative fishing. I’ve tried to design it in such a way that should limit potential exploits and that should hopefully still demand a significant amount of effort to complete.



I wanted to address a few things specifically with this idea:

  1. Let players who have already collected a fish give up their catch in order to give others who still need it a better chance of getting exactly what they need
  2. Give players additional mechanisms to accelerate the acquisition of some of the most elusive fish in a more reliable, targeted way
  3. Respect player’s time more by giving them ways to offset the naturally very-high RNG involved in certain areas of fishing
  4. Encourage fishing a group, and doing so actively
  5. Mechanically allow players to be actively kind and helpful to others

Aside from collections, many fish aren’t particularly valuable, so it’d be nice to be able to put them to better use by helping other people. This is something I have seen many people saying they wish they could do, and I’d love to actually see a way to do this be implemented. However, I do acknowledge that it would need to be done in a balanced way. I’ve tried to do so, but some additional considerations might need to be made.



Add a new mastery to the Fishing mastery track: Share the Bounty. To unlock it, you must spend 3-4 EoD mastery points. I know that reducing the cost of a higher-tier mastery hasn’t been done before, but it feels fitting to me because of the self-sacrificial nature of the feature it unlocks that it wouldn’t be intensive to unlock. It will also help to not heavily disrupt the amount of mastery points available vs. those needed to unlock all of the masteries.

Mastery: Share the Bounty

Gain the ability to release fish that you’ve already collected back into the water. After releasing it, party members can attempt to catch the released fish to collect it for themselves before it wanders off. 

Each catch made in the area of a released fish with a favored bait has a 4% chance to catch the fish; for players with this mastery, that chance is increased to 5%. Catches that don’t recapture the released fish will yield something found in open water.



About the Special Action ability:

  1. Gaining Access to the Ability: Any time that you catch a fish where doing so didn’t advance any collection progress (i.e. it wouldn’t have had the “Collectible” tag at the time you caught it), you will temporarily gain access to a Special Action ability to release it, which is called “Release Catch”. You cannot re-release a fish that a player released and that you caught from a player-created fishing hole; the Special Action ability will not appear, even if catching it didn’t trigger any collection progress updates. Only caught fish can be released; junk items cannot be.
  2. Usage: Using the “Release Catch” ability will create a temporary fishing hole that party members can fish from, which will give them a chance to catch the fish that was released for themselves. When the ability is used, the player will gain a status effect that links them to that fishing hole. The status effect will have a duration, letting the player know how long the fishing hole has remaining until it expires. If the status effect is replaced by a newer usage of the skill, the fishing hole associated with the status effect being replaced will disappear.
  3. Skill Name: The exact name of the “Release Catch” ability will change based on the fish that will be released, by adding “: Fish name” to the end of it. Example: “Release Catch: Black Lionfish”
  4. Skill Icon: The skill icon of the “Release Catch” special action will update to match the item icon of whatever fish will be released if you used the skill.
  5. Skill Targeting: The skill is ground targeted, with a range of roughly 450. You can only target fishable water; specifically, it must be open water. You cannot target a place in the water that overlaps with another Fishing Hole (static or player-made). Ideally, this would include temporary fishing holes made by people outside of your party as well, since if you were to join their party, that could cause them to overlap.
  6. Cast Time: The animation to release the fish takes ~4 seconds. Moving will cancel it. The lengthy cast time may help to reduce mistaken releases as well as discourage excessive releasing of fish. Despite the long cast time, as long as you activate the skill before it expires, it will finish. 
  7. Cost: In order to successfully use the skill, the player will have to give up the fish that they caught. If the player tries to use the skill without having the corresponding fish in their inventory, the usage will fail and the special action skill will be removed. Therefore, you should make sure to not process the fish, move it to the bank, or otherwise try to trick the system. Fish located in Safe Bags can be detected and 1 copy of the fish will be removed if you use the skill. Fish located in Shared Inventory Slots will not be be detected and will cause the skill to fail.
  8. Cooldown: This skill has a 1 minute cooldown. Recharge is not affected by Alacrity. You must wait for the cooldown to end before you can release a new fish.
  9. Time Limit: Once the Release Catch skill is granted to you, you have only 1 minute to use it before the special action ability is removed. 


About the player-created temporary Fishing Holes:

  1. Limited Access: Only players that are in the same party as you will have a chance to fish up the released fish from the fishing hole you created. If players outside of your party cast their line at that spot, they will not have a chance to catch the released fish when they make their catch. A party can be of any size, up to a Squad. Visibility and access to player-created fishing holes will update automatically for all players in the party if a player who has created a fishing hole joins or leaves the party. 
  2. Owner Advantage: The player who made the fishing hole will have a 50% chance per catch to re-catch the released fish. This is mostly a thing to make it so that any accidental releases can be recovered quite easily, but could also be used if they wanted to try to reclaim it if the hole is about to expire or if they caught another fish they want to release instead.
  3. Appearance: Player-created fishing holes can only be seen by players in the same party as the player that created it. The fishing holes could have an orange ring around it, rather than the standard white/light-blue or shining gold used for events.
  4. Size: Player-created fishing holes will be ~66% of the size of regular fishing holes, so that they take up less physical and visual space.
  5. Name: The fishing hole’s name will correspond directly to the fish that was released. Example: “Released Black Lionfish”
  6. Limit: Each player can only have 1 temporary fishing hole at a time. Creating another one will delete the existing one. 
  7. Duration: The temporary fishing hole that you create with the skill will last up to 5 minutes, after which the fish will escape and the hole will disappear. It can disappear early if the owner player leaves the map, releases another fish, or if a player catches the fish from the hole before that time is up. Player-created fishing holes could make use of the “timed” icon that is used for Rare Fish fishing holes during fishing events.
  8. Difficulty: The difficulty associated with the fishing hole matches whatever the local open water fishing difficulty is.
  9. Bait: In order to catch the released fish, you need to use a bait that is favored by that fish. If you don’t, you will have no chance of catching it.
  10. Catch Rates: If the player is using a bait that is favored by the released fish, they will have a flat 4-5% chance to catch the released fish for each of their catches (based on if they have the mastery or not). The player that released the fish will have a 50% chance to re-catch it. If they don’t use a favored bait, or they don’t succeed on that 4-5% outright chance, the player will instead be awarded with a random catch based on the open water loot table for the area. Depending on the conditions, it may be possible to catch the fish from the open water loot table, which would not exhaust the fishing hole.
  11. Time of Day: When it comes to catching the fish that was released, Time of Day doesn’t matter when fishing from these fishing holes. Therefore, it is possible to catch a fish even after the Time of Day that they can be caught at naturally has passed, but it will only ever be possible to catch a fish up to 6 minutes after the Time of Day changes (otherwise the Special Action and fishing hole will have expired). However, the current time of day (and bait used) will affect the loot table if you are given an open water drop.


Usage and Risk Analysis

The main places I would expect this to find use are with Saltwater fish, World Class fish, and any fish that can only be caught during Dawn or Dusk. I’m sure some people would also use it for Exotic or rarer fish, but I personally think the drop rates on those tend to be reasonable enough that this wouldn’t be used excessively, especially given that most people will move around to focus on catching other fish after they’ve collected the one of each fish they need for the collection, which will reduce how many eligible catches are made that can be shared. Since Ascended and Legendary fish are worth quite a bit more, people would likely be more hesitant to give up those catches in general as well.


Although players would technically be able to release every fish they caught (assuming it didn’t trigger collection progress), they likely wouldn’t want to. Not only because it would lose them some value through materials, but also because doing so would cost them a decent amount of efficiency. Catching a fish usually takes around 30 seconds from start to finish. If you wanted to try to release every fish you caught, you’d have to spend 50% of your time waiting around in order to do so. This should make releasing unneeded fish inefficient enough that it discourages doing too casually, but also doesn’t make it too much of a burden to do when it feels like it will be of significant help. 


Any given Released Fish will only ever result in 1 other player collecting that fish for progress and/or its materials. It’s also entirely possible that no one will re-catch the released fish. In that case, all potential value associated with it will simply be lost.


The likely result of this feature is that groups of people will complete their collections closer together and with less repeat fish at the end of it. This will mean less fish needed to be caught overall, and it will also mean that people tend to finish collections somewhat faster. However, if people are tending to fill out the rarer fish by fishing in player-created fishing holes, they will also catch far fewer rare drops in total because they aren’t fishing in the zone’s fishing holes. This means completions will be tighter, but it also means that, if people are working in groups to complete the collections, fewer people will be accumulating the duplicate catches to release in the first place; once they focus on catching from player-created fishing holes, they will be of much less value to other people in the group in terms of being able to release duplicate rare fish. It should mean that the players end up with less overall value in their hauls, especially since they will be spending a lot of time only getting open water drops if they’re regularly fishing in player-created fishing holes.


Really aggressively taking advantage of this feature by making large, organized fishing parties could lead to pretty rapid completion of certain fishing collections, especially those that have simpler conditions to them (almost all fish can be caught during a single time of day or with a single type of bait, etc.). There is a chance that the coordinated mass-completion of fishing achievements could cause a significant increase in the amount of rewards (notably Ambergris) being earned directly from the collections. However, I suspect that this would also be accompanied by an overall decrease in the total number of Ascended and Legendary fish (which would give the Ambergris) caught by these groups, which is something that solo players would likely not see a reduction in if they are not engaging with this feature and not being as efficient about filling out exactly what is needed just to complete the achievement. Therefore, it’s possible that the tradeoff of finishing the achievements faster but giving up Ambergris-granting fish may cause things to balance out when it comes to material value. If that’s the case, this may not be a major concern. However, it would probably be a good idea to try to observe behavior and do some statistical analysis to try to figure out the potential impact. It may also be the case that this kind of coordination is something that ANet feels is acceptable and worthy of compensation. If that were the case, though, it would shift the nature of the Share the Bounty feature from being altruistic to being important for being maximally efficient. 


Since it takes ~30 seconds to catch a fish and you have 4-5% chance to re-catch a released fish per catch, working in a party of just 2 people, it would take an average of 2 releases of a fish for the other player to have a really good chance of getting it. That is unlikely enough that it feels quite balanced, to me. And needing to catch 2 extras of a fish to have a good chance of it being caught by someone else feels like a good amount to have to sacrifice for them to be able to get that off of you. It also will involve a reasonable amount of effort on their part, of up to 20 catches. That’s not negligible. Working in a larger group will make it so there’s less risk of a released fish not being caught by someone who needs it, but it also means it’s harder to pinpoint who exactly will make that progress, which helps to limit how targeted and therefore how exploitable a given player’s progress can be.


Other Fishing-related Suggestions

I’ve come up with a list of a bunch of other fishing-relation feedback and suggestions. You can check them out on the forums (newer), reddit (older), and/or in a google doc (reference for both). Since the forum post is archived, you may want to reply on reddit if you have an account there. I don't know if making a new post here is ideal.

Edited by Pittcrew.6592
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While I agree fishing needs some tweaking, a release suggestion is not really a good idea. It would make players start to sell fish and collections and also devalue the collection overall. If anet felt fish should be tradable they would let us sell them in trade post like you can with jade statuettes. 

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21 minutes ago, Freya.9075 said:

While I agree fishing needs some tweaking, a release suggestion is not really a good idea. It would make players start to sell fish and collections and also devalue the collection overall.

Well, it would only work in the fishing party. It is quite disappointing, if I got the same fish TWICE in a row that my fishing party member desperate needs but never seem to get.

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6 hours ago, Freya.9075 said:

While I agree fishing needs some tweaking, a release suggestion is not really a good idea. It would make players start to sell fish and collections and also devalue the collection overall. If anet felt fish should be tradable they would let us sell them in trade post like you can with jade statuettes. 

I do understand your concerns, but only to a limited degree. Anything that can be caught with any regularity that people would be able to reliably "sell" or "carry" a person through would likely be just as easy enough to catch own your own. Like Ascended and Legendary fish. Things like those are often not going to be worth the effort of going through a secondary source to catch; if you're using the right bait and have enough fishing power, you probably already have > 5% chance to catch them at normal fishing holes. Just try to catch them normally. Having to wait for someone else to catch a specific fish you need for a standard fishing hole and then trying to re-catch it is almost always going to be slower, and you're just as likely to catch it by trying to catch it normally as they are in the while you're waiting for them to try to catch it for you. It really doesn't feel like a service that could be charged for with any degree of certainty of getting value out of it. Does that mean people wouldn't try to do it anyway? No, they probably would, and that could be an issue for scamming, but I doubt it will lead to too much meaningful progress being made towards completing achievements. 

For some of the more truly rare fish, like saltwater, there's basically no way to be able to guarantee that a "seller" could acquire the fish they are promising. And even catching and releasing it wouldn't guarantee that the buyer will catch it. As I've suggested this work, I think it would just all be too risky, nebulous, and unsustainable to try to actively, pre-emptively promote selling fish as a service. 

I feel like, if anything, any market that might crop up would be localized and reactive, based on what you happen to catch in the moment. For example, I could see if someone saying to people around them: "Hey, I just caught x fish. See, this is the skill [Release Fish: Googly-Eyed Squid]. I'm gonna drop it. Send me a mail with 3g to be invited to my party to fish for it." Something like that could happen. I guess it's up to you if you think that's a bad thing or not. I think it could be a bit fishy (pun intended), dangerous, risky -- and it's definitely something I would prefer not to happen. But it's also someone offering something of (potential) value, which you otherwise could just ignore, and I don't necessarily think it's wrong for them to be able to sell that to someone else if they're willing to pay for it. I'm sure some people would like to offer such a service, and I'm sure some people would like to take advantage of it. Maybe that's valid and worth looking in to. However, I do think it would likely shift the dynamic of the community around fishing, even though that certainly isn't my intention, and maybe not for the best. I like that people say that they wish they could give up something they just caught to help someone else out, and I wouldn't want that to be completely corrupted.

One thing that might reduce the extent to which people could "sell" fish, perhaps almost completely, would be to make any Released Fish fishing spots just be public and not attached to your party. Then you wouldn't be able to stop other people from trying to catch it, which strips people of their power over access. It also helps to anonymize the feature, which would distance people and would reduce how much of an obligation people feel to compensate someone at all (such as by giving them back the materials they got from the fish). The best you could probably expect to get in return would be tips, and that probably wouldn't be very reliable. It would probably also make it so that you'd only be willing to give up fish that really do have very little value to you. That change could probably work quite well for reducing risks of a player-driven service economy around fishing. The only other main possible place it could occur is in instances, like a guild hall. Maybe you could just disable the feature there, if you felt it was necessary, despite that being disappointing for guilds who want to fish together in their guild hall.

However, there's a bit of an issue with making the player-made fishing holes public: it could lead to an increase in spam/griefing. For example, someone could release a fish over the spot you're fishing in in open water (unless that isn't a valid spot to place it), or areas of open water may just become filled up with a bunch of common fish being thrown back into the water for no good reason. Part of why I suggested it be restricted to party was to help keep the water from being crowded by random people's released fish, but I can see how it would do harm to lock it behind a party. Anyways, I do think this is all worth taking into consideration, but don't necessarily think your concerns make the idea in general completely unworkable. It may just need some adjustments.

Edited by Pittcrew.6592
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