If there’s one thing that makes me love a video game, it’s going fishing. Each game handles it with varying degrees of complication, and Red Dead Redemption 2 lands somewhere in the middle. Fishing for food and crafting supplies isn’t overly difficult, but players might be surprised at how long it takes for them to unlock fishing in RDR2. I spent hours trying to figure it out, but at least you won’t have to struggle trying to learn how to start fishing in Red Dead Redemption 2.
Updated: May 13, 2022 at 4:52 p.m. EDT
How to unlock fishing
Fishing in Red Dead Redemption 2 is locked behind a quest in Chapter 2 called A Fisher of Men. This quest is not one that you can miss, so if you're afraid of spoilers just keep playing the game and you'll being fishing soon enough. If you really want to go fishing early in the game, before it unlocks via quest, that is also possible, which I'll explain a little further on. If you're trying to go fishing online, here's how to unlock fishing in Red Ded Online.
A Fisher of Men is unlocked by completing A Quiet Time and Pouring Fourth Oil III, both main quests in Chapter 2 that cannot be missed. When you start A Fisher of Men, take Jack down to the Dakota River and simply complete the objectives. It's not a long quest, and once it's done you will have the Fishing Rod in your inventory.
To access your fishing pole, hold L1/LB down to bring up the Weapons/Items wheel. Press R1/RB to look at the Items section, then use the right stick to select the Hunting section in the bottom right. Press L2/LT and R2/RT to browse through the options until you get your Fishing Rod. With your Fishing Rod equipped, press and hold L1/LB again. Switch over to the Fishing section, then choose the bait that you wish to fish with. What you catch will depend on location, weather, and the type of bait your using.
How to get a Fishing Rod early
Players can get a Fishing Rod early in Red Dead Redemption 2. Simply find an NPC anywhere in the world that is fishing, then use your lasso to hog tie them. You can then loot the Fishing Rod from near where they are tied up. From that point on, the Fishing Rod will be in your Weapon/Item wheel for use.
The main problem with acquiring a Fishing Rod early is that you have many bait limitations. First, you can only use Cheese, Bread, and Corn as bait. The bait that you can purchase from shops will be locked until you complete A Fisher of Men. This is also true for Jeremy Gill and the A Fisher of Fish quest. You will not be able to meet Jeremy Gill and get the Legendary Fish map until you go fishing with Jack. So, while you can go fishing early, it's quite limited in the fish you can reliably catch, and you cannot properly catch Legendary Fish until you unlock fishing using the proper method. You also can't begin the Survivalist challenges in story mode until you go fishing with Jack, so that's worth noting.
With a good grasp on how to unlock fishing, you’ll likely want to dive into our Red Dead Redemption 2 walkthrough and guide for more help with every obstacle in Arthur Morgan’s path.