With the release of The Catch: Carp & Coarse, Dovetail Games have upped the ante for the representation of my favourite sport on the Xbox. I’ve been a keen fisherman now for more than 33 years, and so I flatter myself that I have a rough idea of what to do by the waterside, whether that be in the real world or the virtual one. However, I know that not everyone is interested in sitting in the rain to catch tiny fish as I am, so after reviewing the game – a review that you can find right here – it got me thinking about how I would explain the whole world of fishing to an angling muggle, as it were. I hope in this little article to try and explain my thought processes for approaching the game, and give you a bit of a clue, and a few hints and tips, as to how to be more successful in winkling those Boss Fish out of their lairs.
So join me as I divulge the best hints and tips on landing the biggest fish in The Catch: Carp & Coarse on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
1. Check your surroundings
When fishing, a large part of the ‘luck’ can be manufactured by doing your homework on the venue you are going to fish. This can be as simple as checking out likely looking spots, such as near the island on Oxlease Lake, down to getting out in a boat and checking the bottom contours on the bigger venues, namely Loch Mickle and the mighty River Ebro.
But there is more to it than that, as the type of bottom can also play a part, as well as what you choose to fish.
When you cast out your rig, especially if it is a bottom rig of some kind, not only will The Catch tell you how deep the water is, but also what the bottom is composed of. In real life, we have to cast around with a bare lead, dragging it across the bottom and interpreting the bounces and the feel of the lead as it is retrieved to make an educated guess as to what is out there. Obviously, the in-game method is a lot easier.
Now, in the real world, fish are attracted to places that are a little bit different: a patch of gravel amongst a sea of silt, for instance. Staying with the example of Oxlease Lake, as I have been exploring, I’ve discovered that at each end of the island, about 90 yards out, there is a small patch of gravel, and it was here that I tripped up the first of the Boss Fish that I have caught. Make a note of what direction you have cast (reflections on the far bank make for great casting markers) and make a note as to how far out the area that you have found is. That way you can be sure of consistently hitting the same patch, both with your bait and with the loose-feed required to tempt the fish. Look for deep holes as well, as fish can often be found patrolling around underwater shelves or drop offs.
A bit of time spent casting about will give you a much better idea as to what is going on under the water, and should lead to increased catches. Also, you’ll want to check what is happening in the water: the fish will leave signs as to where they are feeding, either jumping, splashing or bubbling, and casting to a showing fish is usually a good move. Don’t neglect the margins either: in the game or real life, most anglers turn up to the waterside, put their rigs together and then throw them as far as humanly possible. The fish will feed often only inches from the bank, and feeding and fishing these areas can be surprisingly rewarding.
2. Feed for success!
Certain fishing games would have you believe that all you need to do is stroll up to any patch of water, cast a bait in and the fish will fall over themselves to have the honour of being hooked. This is not how things are in the real world, and as The Catch is pretty realistic as regards fish behaviour, it isn’t how it works here.
Now, in order to attract fish, you have to introduce food to them to get them in the feeding mood. In real life, I’d do this with a method feeder or a catapult, throwing in balls of groundbait to drag the fish in. In The Catch, you have a similar mechanic available to you, but two ways to do it.
The first way is to use what is called a spod, which is basically a hollow rocket with a buoyant tip, filled with bait and cast into the area you wish to fish. The rocket then inverts, spilling the bait onto the lake bed where your rig sits. At least, that’s the theory. Putting down a bed of bait in this way does attract the fish, but it is also possible to fill the spod with different things, such as the flavour of boilie you’re using for instance, instead of just shovelling in spod mix. Doing this does sometimes lead to better results, but be careful to keep your feeding accurate, as otherwise the fish could spread out, or worse, be feeding beyond the range of your rig.
The second way to feed is by using a throwing stick, which is again loaded with boilies and then they are thrown into the lake, one at a time. This is useful if you don’t want to risk overfeeding, but you want just enough free samples scattered around your rig to look innocuous. I have to be honest, both in the game and real life, I am much more of a “Fill it in and wait” angler and will quite often cast three spodfuls of bait around each rod.
3. Read the Descriptions of the species
As you look at each venue in The Catch: Carp & Coarse, the menu will helpfully tell you not only what fish are in the water, but also what bait they prefer, and what depth they are usually caught at. The list is not exhaustive; as an example, on the Ebro, the game says that Barbel can only be caught on worms or small boilies, but I have caught them to 12lb on chicken livers while targeting the Zander, so experimentation is still key.
The same goes for the Boss Fish for each venue. Again the game menu will give you their name, what they like and where they like it. There are some strange examples of this, for example it says that pike can only be caught on artificial lures, which is clearly nonsense as the majority of pike I have caught have been taken on deadbaits, but here the pike don’t seem interested. A switch to a lure cast into the same area produced a 17lb pike, so go figure. Anyway, following the hints that are given certainly increases your chances of catching the fish. If a fish says that it feeds shallow, then a float approach is usually best, as the depth at which the bait can be fished can be set with a good degree of accuracy, and fishing maggots two feet deep in six feet of water has led to some good catches.
In addition, try to make sure your tackle is balanced, another tip from real life. If you are fishing with three pound breaking strain line, putting a honking great lead and boilie on the end won’t end well, as a carp of any size will smash that rig to pieces. Better to match a light line to a float with maggots, and have much heavier line when targeting the bigger fish.
4. Buy new gear
As you go through your fishing journey, catching fish and having a good time by the water, The Catch will award you with XP and TP (Tackle Points) for every fish you catch. The level of your angler is largely irrelevant – I don’t think the fish think “Uh-oh, he’s level 50, I’d best just give up!”, but the TP you accrue is vital.
You see, the gear you start out with is divided into three tackle boxes: Carp, Coarse and Predator, and the gear in these tackle boxes is pretty weedy. The default carp rod, for instance, is only nine feet long, and this does restrict the length of cast you can make. What you’ll want to do is treat yourself to a 12 or 13 foot rod, and you’ll be casting to the horizon in no time.
In addition to new rods, new line, rigs and bait can also be purchased. Want to catch bigger carp? Then stronger line, bigger hooks and larger boilies are your friends. It stands to reason: an 18mm boilie won’t fit in a tenches mouth and so when you get a bite, you can be reasonably sure that it’s a good fish. Match the boilie to the fish you want to catch as well, some species like sweet boilies, others savoury, so mixing and matching can also help.
Buying new things to put in the spod can also help no end, as I really like the “Frenzied Hemp and Snails” by Dynamite Baits in real life, so imagine my joy when I can use it in game. The beauty of licensing…
5. Fight the fish
So, you’ve followed the advice above, and now you have a fish on the line. How do you fight it? Well, it’s pretty simple, and luckily The Catch: Carp & Coarse follows video game logic.
The first thing you need to be aware of is the clutch on your reel. This should be set so that just before the fish breaks the line, or before the tension becomes too great in the game the clutch will slip, allowing the fish to take line, while still maintaining pressure on the fish to tire it out. In the game, using up and down on the d-pad either increases or decreases the drag. When the fish is coming in easily, increasing the drag can help to keep the tension up, and prevent it from dropping into the dreaded “hook slipping” zone. When the fish is fighting hard and trying to run, slackening the drag will allow it to take line, keeping the tension meter out of the equally dreaded “hook straining” zone. So, be prepared to increase and decrease the drag on a regular basis, depending on what the fish is doing.
The other way to immediately either increase or decrease tension is by using the rod tip, which is controlled by the right stick. Pulling back on the stick raises the rod tip, increasing tension, while lowering it decreases tension. It’s worth remembering this as the fish darts about, as it can be the difference between a catch and a lost fish.
The last control is the winding of the reel. You should only wind when the tension meter is not in the “hook straining” zone, as this will take up line. Learning when to wind (using the LT button) and when not to is an important skill, as choosing the speed at which you wind. This is controlled with the RB and LB buttons, either speeding up the wind or slowing it down. I usually leave the wind speed at maximum, as I want to pick line as fast as I can when the fish comes towards my character and causes the line to go slack.
Above all, be patient. I’ve seen more fish lost due to people trying to the force the issue, especially in real life, and staying cool, calm and collected is the best advice I can give when you go fishing. Of course, once you hook a Boss Fish, that all goes out of the window!
So those are my top five things that non-fishermen should know when approaching The Catch: Carp & Coarse on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. But what about you guys? What baits do you find work? Where do you need to cast to catch those monster catfish? What rigs work for you? Let us know in the comments – and if I catch a boss fish following your advice, I’ll be eternally grateful!
And don’t forget, if The Catch: Carp & Coarse gets you interested in fishing, then there are a number of other great fishing games available on Xbox One too.