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What to Expect from Saltwater Fishing

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Saltwater fisher and its repeat avid saltwater fisher are 2 of 30 collections required for the "Cod Swimming Amongst Mere Minnows" title (CSAMM). In discussions out on the open water, with other avid fisherman, I've found that players don't really have a good idea what they can expect from trying to complete their saltwater collection. I hope this sheds some light.

The 30 collections fall into 3 categories:  zone collections, oceanic trash/treasure collections and world/saltwater fisher collections. Whereas most of collections can be targeted, there doesn't seem to be a way to easily target either saltwater or treasure collections.

The zone collections occur on a specific map and each fish is caught at a certain time of day, in or out of a fishing hole, using specific bait. The dawn/dusk fish can be annoying to pick up because there are only two "5 minute windows" in every 2 hour day/night cycle that they can be caught. These fish can usually be caught within a handful of attempts though.

Players have discovered that world class and oceanic trash collections can be targeted in polluted fishing holes in Kessex Hills and can usually be completed within a few hours by sinking their line in those waters.

That leaves oceanic treasure and saltwater fishing collections. Oceanic treasure collection seems to just happen naturally along the way to completing the other collections. Not so for the saltwater collection which is way harder to complete. The saltwater collection is a massive grind.

Not much is known about the saltwater collection, Arenanet have not revealed any specific information about it as far as I am aware. Saltwater fish can be caught anywhere, anytime and with any bait. Anecdotally players have discovered that fishing in open water typically nets a saltwater fish every 50-100 casts. The most recent game patch states that the drop rate from fishing nodes has been increased slightly and anecdotally players think the rate has doubled there.

I can't tell you how long the collection will take you or where the best place to fish is but I can say something about how many saltwater catches you can expect under the reasonable assumption that drops rates for the 14 fish within the saltwater collection are equal and randomly selected (probably psueuorandom using a standard statistics library in C/C++ or whatever programming language GW2 is coded in).

This collection problem is an application of a more general problem known as the Coupon Collectors Problem. Details can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coupon_collector's_problem and my calculations below are from that wiki page.

The expected number of catches T required is obtained by setting n=14. We have:

E(T) = 14(1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + ... + 1/14)

It's instructive to write out the terms in reverse order in this way

E(T) = 1 + 14/13 + 14/12 + ... + 14/2 + 14 ~ 1 + 1.07 + 1.16 + 1.27 + 1.40 + 1.56 + 1.75 + 2.00 + 2.33 + 2.80 + 3.50 + 4.67 + 7.00 + 14.00 ~ 45.51  ~ 46

The first term is how many saltwater catches you can expect before completing the 1st fish in the collection (1), the second is how many catches to expect before obtaining the second fish (1.07) and so on up to the 14th term which is how many fish to expect to collect that final elusive fish to complete the collection (14). The expectation is around 46.  You can expect to have to collect 46 saltwater fish (i.e. 46-14=32 duplicate fish) and  the last few fish require the lion share of the catches with the final fish expected to take 1/3 of the overall effort alone.

It's also useful to calculate the variance (and standard deviation):

Var(T) = 14^2(1 + 1/2^2 + 1/3^2 + ... + 1/14^2) ~ 309 and StdDev(T) = sqrt(Var(T)) ~ 18

This is not good news for the saltwater fisher. The distribution has a large spread and so there is going to a lot of variation among the player base. You have not been fortunate if you require more catches than a standard deviation above the mean, i.e. if it takes more than 46+18 = 64 saltwater fish to complete the collection.

Here's some data on my own experience.

Almost all of my fishing predated the patch that increased the drop rates from holes. If I started saltwater fishing today I'd probably do a lot more casts into fishing holes. At the time though I went for open water fishing because I couldn't be fussed with steering my skiff from hole to hole and drop rates seemed to be about the same everywhere. A lot of players adopted Ember Bay as the place to go after saltwater fish. So I joined them. Some reasons for the choice were:

  1. There's often a flotilla of skiffs in the Sulfurous Deep with plenty of fishers sharing fishing stacks (99 stacks please, thank you).
  2. No enemies out on the open water to knock you off your skiff and cut into your valuable fishing time.
  3. The map rarely closes due to stable player populations unlike maps with metas which would result in losing your fishing stacks.
  4. The only regional offshore fish to be caught are firemouth and igneous rockfish, so anything else you catch is a chance for a saltwater catch (or world/mackerel/junk/treasure).

My fishing power was typically 925% from:

  1. Full fishing mastery.
  2. Cheapest +150 fishing power Bowls of Fish Stew food.
  3. Best Mackerel bait.
  4. Amber/jade lures.
  5. 99 stacks of the Fishing Party Catches buff.
  6. I usually forgot to collect the Tips on Fishing from Benyo in Seitung Province.

My saltwater results follow. The counts are for the fish in the order: seahorse, redfin barb, leafy sea dragon, googly-eyed squid, mantis shrimp, shimmering squid, electric eel, vampire squid, rockfish, flapjack octopus, horseshoe crab, aurelian herring,, sea robin, red gurnard:

  • saltwater: 6,2,3,6,5,6,4,4,2,1,4,1,6,5: 55 total
  • avid saltwater: 2,10,6,4,4,5,1,5,4,4,5,3,1,1: 55 total

In summary, it took me 55 saltwater catches each time to complete the collection twice. This puts me on the wrong side of the mean both times but within one standard deviation of it. The aurelian herring was the final catch the first time and sea robin the final catch the second.

In summary The CSAAM title (and the silky ascended fishing rod skin) is all about the saltwater fishing, all the other collections are readily picked up albeit with some irritating dawn/dusk fishing. The saltwater collections are a grind and the grind is worst at the end. I hope you have a good idea of what you can expect.

Enjoy your fishing and may luck place you on the right side of the mean!


Did I ever tell you the time I caught the entire saltwater collection in one cast. Fortunately I was using big game fishing line at the time or the entire catch would have surely snapped the line. Fishing on my skiff, I felt a gentle nibble and brought up ...

  • an aurelian herring ...
  • riding on a sea horse ...
  • jumped on by a hungry redfin barb ...
  • speared by a mantis shrimp ...
  • that failed to evade a famished red gurnard ...
  • joined by a noisy sea robin ...
  • pounced on by a pulsating flapjack octopus ...
  • that was being being vacuumed by a hiding rockfish ...
  • that was surprised by a camouflaged leafy sea dragon ...
  • with a horseshoe crab clawing at his tail ...
  • being zapped by an electric eel ...
  • and alarmed a googly-eyed squid ...
  • who scared a shy shimmering squid ...
  • who succumbed to the tentacles of a vampire squid from the deep.

True story!

Edited by tmorrow.5189
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My question is if map makes any difference.

Since we don't know how it works there seem to be two possibilities:

1. Map matters since choosing a map with less fishes possible to get makes it more probable to get not-region drop such as salties, treasures, trash. Thus on maps such as Ember bay you are more likely to get salties. In conclusion : chance of getting saltie is lower if number of possible fish to catch (pool) where you are fishing is bigger.

2. Map doesn't matter since in the moment you catch the fish, there is already a global table with probability of finding something in node and in open water. For example: 95% regional fish, 2% worldclass, 2% salties, 1% trash, baits, boxes etc. So it really doesnt matter where you fish - there is always the same chance to get salties. Next step is ofcourse draw which one of them you get. Tables to open water and nodes differ.

The more I play, the more probable seem to be the latter scenario. The thing Anet did in a patch seem to be just the update of the global table of probability getting salties in a node (0,5 to 3% for example) just to line up with open water drop.

What are your thoughts?

Edited by banshee.9328
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Based on my own fishing experience I'd lean toward "Map doesn't matter" as being most likely in terms of saltwater drop rate. However, if you fish on maps that close often due to having major fluctuations in player population (all meta maps and maps with world bosses) then the chance of the map closing is high and you will lose your buff.

Also don't discount the convenience of being able to go to map where a lot of fisherman are and being immediately shared out 99 fishing stacks without having to build them up yourself over an hour. The higher fishing power makes the fish fights much faster and easier and boosts your chances of rare fish.

As for the recent changes to increased drop rates in fishing holes, I'd warrant that developing an efficient route on your map to fish the holes may be better in the long run but is not as laid back and relaxed as parking your skiff and lazily casting that line for a decent interval of time. I've noticed that fishing squads in Ember Bay usually have all the holes marked so you can plot your closed path ahead of time and then just keep doing your chosen circuit. If you love maneuvering your skiff and/or are after the zone hole fish with good saltwater drop rates then this is the only way to fly.

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Also we don't know if stacks or generally FP above recommended (green) level matters at all in this particular dillema.

All the salties are rare and exotic - this ofcourse might be somehow influenced by FP if we catch one, but not sure if chance of getting salties out of all possible fishes differs if you have FP 650 or 925. 🤔 

Edited by banshee.9328
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I didn't state how long because I found it more useful to count saltwater drops However I did note that I typically obtained a saltwater fish every 50-100 casts and possibly even better than that. I'm a slow fisher and my typical catch time is probably close to 30 seconds. So a pessimistic estimate of the time it took me was somewhere between 50 * 55 * (30/(60*60)) and 100 * 55 * (30/(60*60)) hours or between 23-46 hours for both saltwater collections.

Edited by tmorrow.5189
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You aren't an outlier. I completed 28/30 collections before closing out my first saltwater collection same as dozens of others I chatted with while fishing. That is to be expected. The saltwater collection is a massive grind, it is intended to be a grind (or Arenanet would have bumped up the drop rates everywhere for saltwater).

The reason for my  original post was to make people aware of what to expect trying to complete all 30 collections. The first 28 non saltwater collections give players the illusion that they are making significant progress but they aren't.  Measure your progress by saltwater catches, everything else is a tiny blip on the radar.

Edited by tmorrow.5189
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I understand completely. If I'd known ahead of time how much of a grind it was, I would have thought twice about tackling this one. Be aware that those time estimates of mine are extremely pessimistic and I may have completed them much faster time (the count info though is exact). Keep an eye out in future patch notes to see if Arenanet decide to adjust the abysmal saltwater drop rates to something more sensible. Good luck.

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