You can check out the video version of this guide here: VIDEO GUIDE
This Red Dead Redemption 2 guide will teach you everything you need to know about fishing and hunting. We’ll kick it off with fishing first then finish up with hunting, as usual you will find useful time-stamp codes in the description of our Youtube video.
To get the very best out of fishing, the very first thing you will need to do is visit the Bait Shop in Lagras as shown here on the map, to buy three Special Lake, River and Swamp Lure’s.
These will allow you to attract and catch the best and biggest fish at all fishing locations across the entire world.
You can also get standard lures but these do not attract legendary fish, so skip these entirely, unless of course you want to purposefully avoid catching legendary fish for whatever reason.
Bait like cheese, bread and corn, and live bait like worms crickets and crayfish, can also be used, but these only attract small and medium sized fish respectively.
Whereas the special lures attract every fish in the game bar the very smallest fish, which are a complete waste of time anyway. So buying all three special lures as soon as possible should be your priority.
Before you can catch any fish, you will first need to acquire the fishing rod, and this is achieved by completing the main quest named “A Fisher of Men”, which becomes available during Chapter II while you are staying at Horseshoe Overlook
Before hitting any fishing locations, the most important thing to learn is how the mechanics of the fishing mini-game works. A good understanding of this mechanic can literally save you hours of frustration.
When using lures to catch fish, after casting, you need to slowly rotate the right stick clockwise as instructed, which makes the lure look like live food. This must be performed slowly at approximately 1 rotation every 2 seconds so as to not scare the fish.
When the fish bites it will pull on the line and you will feel the feedback, at this point pressing R2 will hook the fish on the line. The fish will then put up a vigorous fight and swim either to the left or the right trying and escape, to tire the fish out quickly, you will need to pull the rod in the opposite direction to which the fish swims, this triggers a rest sequence giving you a short window of time to reel in the fish.
During the phase of fighting the bigger fish will pull the line out, creating more distance between you and the fish, meaning, more reeling during the rest period. To minimise this you will need to hold the right stick in any direction as soon as you hear the line being pulled out, this will lock the line in its tracks.
However the trick is to not hold the right stick for too long, as prolonged tension over time will snap the line. To prevent this you will need to allow the fish some give, and the best way to do this is to periodically ‘tilt’ the right stick in any direction, rather than continuously holding, around two tilts every 1 second I found the most reliable.
The line will still be pulled out sporadically, but the overall give will be much less and this technique will stop the line from snapping. Other sources have recommended clicking and holding the right stick button R3 to prevent losing line, but In my experience and testing this does not work.
When the fish finally tires it will stop struggling, and at this short moment of inactivity, you will need to quickly rotate the right stick clockwise to reel the line in as quickly as possible, using the palm of your right hand will allow you to rotate the stick much quicker.
During this phase of fast reeling, when the fish is resting, you will want to pull the left stick down for 1-2 seconds which will pull the rod up pulling the fish closer, then let go for around 2-3 seconds to allow the rod to be pulled back down again, then pull it back up again for 1-2 seconds.
Repeat this process as often as you can until the fish resumes struggling and a new cycle begins. Tilting the stick forward before pulling it back can give you more range of motion. Nailing the timing of this entire technique will help pull the fish closer to shore much quicker when compared to just reeling alone.
Check out this chart which shows all types of fish available, where you can find them and the best bait to use for each species.
All fish will give you one of three foods to cook for consumption, either Gritty Fish which restores all cores by 37%, Flaky Fish which restores all cores by 50%, or Succulent Fish, which restores all cores by 75% with Sockeye Salmons and Steelhead Trouts being the only two fish in the game giving the best Succulent dishes. Sockeye Salmons are only found in rivers located toward the northern region of the map, while Steelhead Touts can be found in rivers and lakes toward the southern region of the map.
Adding herbs picked from the wild to your dish before cooking will enhance the effects of the resulting meal when consumed. Adding mint from Wild Mint plants will increase your health core by an additional 25% when consumed, adding Oregano will increase your stamina core by an additional 25%, and adding thyme from Creeping Thyme plants will increase your dead eye core by an additional 25%.
By far the biggest and toughest fish to catch in the game are legendary fish and there are only 13 to be found in total as shown above, one for each species. Once all 13 are caught and delivered they disappear from the world for good. Your search for legendary fish officially begins when you initiate the side quest called ‘A Fisher of Fish’, which is given to you by a stranger named ‘Jeremy Gill’ found right here on the map at a place named ‘Gill Landing’.
Jeremy will give you a map marking the location of all 13 legendary fish, and ask you to mail them to him via the post office. Larger fish that need to be stowed on the back of your horse rather than being stored in your satchel, are best posted immediately since they can go bad after a certain amount of time or can easily be lost if you become under attack, in which case it will reset and you will need to catch the fish again.
To quickly confirm if you have successfully caught a specific legendary fish or not, simply open the game map after you have unlocked its location, if the fish has been caught it will be crossed out as shown here, if for whatever reason you lose the fish after catching it, this cross will disappear meaning you can attempt the catch again.
As previously mentioned you have to use the three special lures to catch legendary fish. Any special lure can catch any legendary fish, but equipping the model adapted to the body of water you are currently fishing, lake, river or swamp, will increase the chances of catching the legendary fish at that location.
When casting out to catch legendary fish, you don’t want to cast out at full distance as this will mean you have a longer distance to reel the fish after hooking. Instead you will want to cast out about half the distance making reeling slightly quicker. With standard non legendary fish casting distance is less important since reeling them in is always quick and easy.
Its worth noting, with larger legendary fish such as the Sockeye Salmon or Northern Pike, you can often be forced into a long drawn out battle with the fish pulling out the line as much as you reel it in. If this is the case, its best to try re-casting from another angle, as many times the fish can swim towards you during its fighting phase depending on where you are situated, or even bite at a much closer distance if you position yourself better, this quick adjustment can make the catch much easier.
To check out the locations of all 13 legendary fish, check out our time-stamped video guide here: VIDEO GUIDE
OK so that’s fishing wrapped up, next, we’ll cover hunting, a deeply engrossing activity in and of itself. There are 7 main reasons why you want to invest time into hunting as follows:
1.To acquire food for cooking at a mobile campfire which is one of the best ways to keep all your attribute cores topped up, as well as preventing your main character from getting weak and skinny, which reduces damage resistance.
2.Most animal parts can be sold for cash at the butchers, general stores, or the trapper. Just make sure any stowed carcasses on your horse are not left for too long or they will start to decompose. Animal parts small enough to be stored in your satchel, as well as skins, will never go bad.
3.You can donate gathered meats and animal carcasses to Pearson at camp to keep the gang well fed and happy, these meals will then be available for consumption at the camps cooking pot.
4.Special artefacts gathered from legendary animals such as teeth, horns, eyes, claws, hearts, paws and antlers, can all be crafted into special trinkets and talismans at any Fence, which unlock several useful perk bonuses such as increased money from looting and increased damage resistance.
5.Certain hunting activities will help you complete the Master Hunter set of challenges, a pre-requisite for unlocking the Legend of the East Outfit, unlocking the master hunter reinforced set of equipment, as well as unlocking availability to hunt the legendary panther.
6.Providing perfect skins and pelts as well as other various animal parts for the trapper will allow him to craft interesting animal outfits. He can literally make over 100 unique looking animal themed clothing and accessory items such as coats, boots, hats and holsters so make sure to check out his full inventory early on.
7.Providing perfect animal skins to Pearson at camp will unlock upgrades for all your satchels, increasing carrying capacity for all items. This chart shows you which animal skins are required to upgrade each type of satchel, as well as the pre-requisites required for each one. As you can see, after upgrading all 6 satchels, you will then have the option of crafting the Legend of the East Satchel, which allows you to carry 99 of every item type which is a huge help.
Before Pearson can craft these satchel upgrades you will need to first purchase a camp upgrade via the ledger upgrade named “Leather Working Tools” which will cost you $225.
As you can see on the chart when you reach Epilogue 1, you will have the option of buying all these satchels from the fence for just under $300 in total, but it goes without saying, unlocking the Legend of the East Satchel as early as possible is far more beneficial than waiting until the end of the game.
There are two hunting accessories that may come in useful when hunting, which can both be crafted, found or purchased from the general stores. The first is bait which comes in two flavours, herbivore bait and predator bait. To use, simply drop it on the ground and hide behind a nearby bush or rock, after a few minutes an animal should appear showing interest. You can also use fresh animal carcasses to the same effect as predator bait which is an effective alternative.
As you uncover the map through exploration, you will come across different species of wild animals large and small. Their locations will then be marked on the map as shown here which can appear in multiple areas across the game world. It’s a good idea to take special note of where you come across high value rare animals such as the panther, which will make it easy to track them down later for hunting, if you so wish.
The second useful accessory is called cover scent. If you trigger Eagle Eye by pressing both sticks down L3 + R3, you will notice a wispy trail coming off your character which is your odour. The dirtier you are, the more prominent this odour will be, making approaching animals much more difficult without detection.
Using a cover scent will help mask this odour for a short period of time. Alternatively making sure the wind is blowing your odour away from the animal rather than toward its location, by observing its motion in Eagle Eye, can also help reduce the chances of detection.
Two factors will determine the quality and amount of parts you receive while skinning animals.
- Animal Quality
- Kill Quality
Each individual animal in the game has a pre-determined Animal Quality rating, basically its physical condition, which can be observed by focusing on the animal in close proximity by holding L2, or at range by using binoculars or a weapons scope. The number of stars next to the animals name represents its quality, either Poor, Good or Pristine. Holding R1 when prompted will reveal further information about the animal and unlock its compendium entry.
The second factor is Kill Quality, which is determined by a further two factors:
- Which body part you hit
- What weapon you use
To maximize the chances of a clean kill, you will need to aim for the two fatal damage locations which are the brain, or the heart, or the two critical damage locations, which are the lungs and the stomach. Hitting critical damage locations is not necessarily lethal like hitting fatal body parts, but the animal will quickly collapse and will still result in a clean kill if using the correct weapon and ammunition.
To experience the easiest time hunting consistent perfect clean kills, consider waiting until you have completed the main quest named ‘Fleeting Joy’ during Chapter 5, which is when the Dead Eye rank 4 unlocks. This will highlight in red, all fatal damage locations on animals when using Dead Eye, making clean kills a breeze.
The higher the quality of the animal and the cleaner the kill you perform, the better the hunting loot will be, as in the more parts you will receive and the higher the condition of the skin. So It goes without saying, if you are after perfect-grade animal parts to fetch the best prices, you will need to hunt animals in pristine condition, and dispatch them with clean perfect kills using a suitable weapon and ammunition.
This table shows the most suitable weapons to use for each animal type based on size. Any explosive, dynamite or fire ammunition is always a bad choice regardless of weapon if quality is your goal, while all other ammunition types are perfectly fine just as long as the weapon being used is suited to the animal being hunted.
The weapon types marked in yellow are the absolute optimal weapons to use for the corresponding category, as follows:
- The small game arrow is optimal for all small animals
- The varmint rifle is optimal for all moderate sized animals
- The standard bow and arrow and all repeaters are optimal for all medium sized animals
- The poison arrow and all rifles are optimal for all large sized animals
- The improved arrow and all sniper rifles are optimal for all massive animals
However the other weapons listed in white are still very capable at producing the best quality results so don’t hesitate to use them if you have them.
The carcasses of moderate, medium and large animals can be skinned and stowed on the back of your horse. However massive animals can only be skinned and their carcasses cannot be carried or transported. You can load your horse up with several pelts and carcasses of varying sizes but the following limitations apply:
- The carcass of one medium or one large animal, or the pelt of one massive animal, can be stowed on the back of your horse.
- The carcasses of two moderate sized animals can be hooked on your horse, one either side.
- Multiple pelts of moderate, medium and large animals can be draped over the back of your horse.
- All parts obtained from hunting small animals listed under the small category, are all stored in your satchel, and take up your personal inventory space.
This chart shows the base values of profit you can expect from the most valuable animal parts available in the game. Note that all legendary animals, just like legendary fish, appear only once in the entire game, so once they are successfully hunted and skinned, they will be gone for good.
When hunting animals for profit, its worth noting the following modifiers:
- Parts from animals that are rare in a region can be sold for 25% more than in a region where their common. For example, selling alligator parts to a trader in Valentine will be worth 25% more than to a trader in Saint Denis.
- Animal carcasses that have been skinned are worth 50% less than when unskinned. So if you plan to carry a perfect quality carcass all the way back to town for profit and you don’t need the meat, consider leaving the skin intact for double profit.
- Owners of the Special and Ultimate editions of the game will be able to sell all animal parts for an additional 10% profit.
There are a total of 16 legendary animals in the game which require some Eagle Eye tracking, stealthy huntsmanship, and precise high powered marksmanship. Hunting these hard to find and usually dangerous creatures will always drop unique animal artefacts such as teeth, horns, eyes, claws, hearts, paws and antlers, specifically used to craft special trinkets and talismans at the Fence, which offer various powerful game enhancing perks.
These animal artefacts cannot be sold for cash as the items they create are far more beneficial. If for whatever reason you didn’t acquire the artefacts after killing a legendary animal, they will automatically become available at the Fence regardless, unlocking the related items for crafting. Make sure to check out the Fence’s inventory for a full breakdown of what perks these powerful talismans and trinkets offer.
There are two specific trinkets the fence will craft that will directly benefit hunting. The first one is the Buck Antler Trinket, which requires you to hunt the legendary buck for its antler, this trinket will increase the quality of parts you receive when skinning animals making those two star pelts magically turn into three star pelts, extremely useful! Note: this does not happen every time and tends to work more often on smaller animals.
The second is the pronghorn trinket, which requires you to hunt the legendary pronghorn for its horn, this trinket will prevent animal carcasses stored on your horse from decomposing, giving you unlimited time to get to a trader. If you plan on getting the most out of hunting then these two trinkets will serve you well.
Unlike all other animals in the game, Legendary animals will always drop perfect quality 3 star pelts no-matter how you kill them or where you shoot them, so feel free to use your explosive or dynamite ammunition for the most satisfying takedowns without penalty.
The acquired legendary skins should then be sold to the trapper, for which he will offer a decent amount of cash, allowing him to craft you the best outfits he has on offer. If you happen to lose the legendary skin before selling it to a trapper, you will still be able to craft the outfit relating to that specific skin since you killed the legendary animal, you just wont receive the hard cash for actually selling the physical skin, since you lost it. Legendary animal carcasses are also worth a lot if you can carry and transport them to a trader.
Legendary animals are extremely tough and can tank a lot of damage, so it’s a good idea to equip yourself with a high powered rifle or sniper rifle as well as improved ammunition. The bow equipped with poison arrows are also an optimal choice for effective take downs. Its also advised to have unlocked Dead Eye rank 4 before going out on your legendary hunting spree, as well as having a full Dead Eye meter before each and every hunt.
To check out the locations of all 16 legendary animals, check out our time-stamped video guide here: VIDEO GUIDE