[Top 15] ACNH Best Fish To Catch

ACNH Best Fish
Easy and common fish to supply you with profit.

Welcome to the ultimate and most realistic guide for catching the best fish in Animal Crossing:New Horizons! This won't be your average tier list of simply the most expensive fish out there.

Most fish rankings only tell you what sells for the most, but that doesn't think of what's actually most profitable for you.

We've got it all covered here to optimize your play time. This list takes into account the prices, look-alikes, and availability, so you no longer make 50 runs to Nook's Cranny with pockets full of tadpoles and carp (that don't even sell for 200 bells).

Even if you've just made your first island or have finished your third reset, you'll instantly see a difference with this information under your belt. No more catching everything you see or tirelessly hunting.

If you're just aiming for the rarest, title-worthy catches, you'll end up losing time and bells from catching the more common look-alikes. Those often sell for a fraction of the cost.

Though there are plenty of other expensive catches out there, I haven't included them due to how many similar fish you might get along the way that cost way less (I'm looking at you, river fish).

Trust in years of experience and resources to take your skills to the next level. What are you waiting for? Dive right in!



A beautiful, sunny view in a museum fish exhibit.

You can also create water features that are close together, so you don't need to run the entire island for a scan. Keep that in mind as you expand and it'll just get easier!

Fish are categorized by their size, location, time, and rarity. The rarer one is, the smaller its sight is and the quicker you have to catch it. You'll need to aim well (about 2 spaces away from your player) and have quick reflexes.

Psyching yourself out trying to catch one? Try this trick: Don't look at the fish testing your hook, and instead rely on the dramatic sound of the bobber. If your finger is ready, you can reel it in on the correct bite!

When you start a new island, you'll have limited resources and pocket space - only 20 out of the maximum 40. You'll also lose a few spots if you're carrying all your tools and not focusing on fishing only. No worries!

Some fish will also be locked until you reach 20 to 100 catches. That won't take long to pass however. We've got you covered until you get there too.

Unlocking terraforming for your island will allow you to practically cheat the system. By removing your rivers or ponds, you increase the spawn rate of other fish. You can also bait them out with manila clams cooked into bait!



The ultimate visual guide for sizing up fish shadows.

The real key to fishing is understanding the shadow size. It's easy to tell what's smallest and biggest. But in between? It can get a little blurry if you're new.

You'll want to reference this chart while you're getting used to it. Practice guessing what size fish you're about to catch. It'll aid you for the timed Fishing Tourney also!

Not so good yet? We still got some insurance for you in this list. Most of the small to medium sizes are avoided. That range is crowded and tough to guess, even for seasoned players.



The eager beaver CJ looking for some fresh fish.

Speaking of the Fishing Tourney, CJ is going to be a key character on your road to one million bells. CJ's the ultimate fish aficionado. He'll make you do a small challenge first, but after that you can sell fish to him for 1.5x the normal price.

NPCs like CJ will visit on a random day at least once within each two weeks. So if you don't catch him, stock up your storage and island with your most valuable goods.

When you've got a lot of valuable fish, he provides a huge increase. A pocket full of 40 Great White Sharks normally goes for 600,000 bells. With CJ you'll get 900,000. You're getting paid an extra half for the work you already did!

Now follow along for the best fish along your journey!


[1] Sea Bass

A sea bass caught in front of what it's future probably looks like.

I know, I know! This fish may be the bane of many players' existences, but he deserves a little more credit! 

For any skill level, the sea bass can be a reliable ingredient or scapegoat. You'll find sea bass as a common, very large shadow (size 5) in - you guessed it - the sea.

For newbies, once you unlock Be a Chef! DIY Recipes+ you'll be able to make Grilled Sea Bass with Herbs. It uses 5 weeds that new islands will have plenty of. In return you'll get 5 quick energy to use for yard work.

While you're on the way to unlocking more fish after your first 100 catches, you might meet him more than you'd like. Each one counts, though! While sea bass normally sells for 400 bells, you can get 540 bells for cooking with it. There’s even more recipes too!

Not into cooking? When you need to catch fish to pass CJ's challenge or simply need a quick fix, sea bass will always be there for you - 24/7/365.


[2] Olive Flounder

You can barely see the olive flounder in it's sand camouflage.

The next step up and best buddy to the sea bass is the olive flounder. This flat, funny-looking fish will also be here to support you all day and year. Olive flounders are the same size in the sea too, but a little more uncommon. 

They're handy for cooking too, as you can make Sautéed Olive Flounder with just a skinny mushroom you find in November. While the fish sells for 800, or 1,200 to CJ, the dish gives you the most at 1,320 bells.

Don't forget about Turkey Day! You'll need one for the event and you'll get the Olive Flounder Meunière recipe in return. November should be all about this reliable dish-shaped fish!

Now while you're catching sea bass and olive flounder, you'll also get some rays! No, not sun rays - stingrays! After 20 catches, you'll find these fellow flat fish sell for 3,000 bells minimum instead.

Rays are found from 4am to 9pm in late summer to the end of fall. There's also no recipes or things that require rays, so you don't need to actively search. 

Rather than looking for something scarce and getting frustrated, you'll get lucky while doing your average tasks!


[3] Barred Knifejaw

A surprising matching catch with the barred knifejaw.

You'll also meet the uncommon barred knifejaw often after 20 catches. He's available in the sea all day from early to late summer (March to November for the northern hemisphere).

This is a medium size 3 fish, so even if you're looking for another catch you don't have to be upset! You'll get a kind 5,000 bells for selling him to Nook's Cranny. Selling to CJ earns 7,500.

If you craft it into Barred Knifejaw Carpaccio you'll earn 6,000 bells. It's more delicious and easy than it sounds. You don't even need other ingredients!


[4] Snapping Turtle

This pricey snapping turtle looks more like a pet to keep.

While there's no other river fish on the roster, we've got to include at least one. It's accompanied by the best look-alikes, so you'll bat a nice average in this range.

Many of the fish in New Horizons are located in the river. You also start out unable to cross them, and can't change water features until you develop the island more too.

Because the river is nearly unavoidable and offers many low priced fish most of the time, it doesn't turn out very appealing. But it spawns a good majority of fish, so we'll teach you how to maximize your time there.

The snapping turtle - although not a fish - is a fantastic target. These will sell for 5,000/7,500 bells, and they're available from the start!

Look for a size 5 shadow from 9pm to 4am in April through October. They're also relatively common, especially compared to others on this list.

Besides September and October when you might get pike worth 1,800, aiming for the extra large fish during summer might also bring dorado! They're very scarce between the opposite 4am to 9pm, but sell for a wafty 15,000 to 22,500 bells!

If you catch anything smaller, you still may get pricey fish. It'll more likely be a 400 bell black bass, though. Anything bigger, however? You're certainly in for an arapaima!

Arapaima are rarest, but the only huge (size 6) shadow in the river. Those are also from 4pm to 9am in June through September, and worth 10,000/15,000 bells. Aim for those extra large and huge shadows!


[5] Sturgeon

Your pockets are going to look just like this with sturgeon at your side.

Now, sturgeon is my personal favorite! It’s an underrated and surefire fish: There's no mistaking this guy! You also only need to catch 20 fish to unlock this spiky giant.

You'll find the huge shadows all day from fall to spring (September to March) at river mouths. This is right between beaches after the turbulent patch from the river.

This turns out to be quite generous. Don't worry about other fish. Salmon and king salmon are only in September, and they don't sell for much at all. After that, the sturgeon is the only huge shadow you'll see there.

With no competition and a long window to find them, you'd think it wouldn't be as expensive, but you'd be wrong! Sturgeons sell for a ripe 10,000 bells, or 15,000 to CJ. Trust me, you'll rack up a bunch of these babies.

You can also expedite this multiple ways, and even just one method is effective. Having both river mouths close in the south, putting a building nearby to easily reset the fish outside, and terraforming your rivers smaller is the ultimate combo for easy money!


[6] Coelacanth

Is the coelacanth really just a fish, or a dinosaur?

If you've been using some of the tips already, you'll probably be at the 100 mark by now. Good job! You're ready for one of the most epic catches already!

The coelacanth is a living fossil, so it makes sense why they're one of the rarest and biggest. It's available all day and all year - but only when it rains.

This makes it easy to keep an eye out for him, as he's also the only one with the largest shadow that you'll find in the sea. All other huge sea fish have fins.

Finding him will net you 15,000 bells. Of course, CJ is better to sell to, for a beautiful 22,500 bells. That almost isn't worthy of this unique multi-finned, blue-tipped, dark fossil.


[7] Blue Marlin

A pirate catching a worthy swordfish to match.

Like the river mouth, the wooden pier is also a select location. Though they're all 4 to 5 stars on the rarity scale, any fish here will earn you no less than 4,500 bells. 

The blue marlin is the most expensive fish that can spawn here. It goes for 10,000/15,000 bells! He also stands out at the largest size possible. 

You can find him all day and every month except for May and October. You can also cook Carpaccio Di Marlin Blu for energy or sell for 12,000 bells.

Marlin is on this list after 50 catches, because even if you don't find him, you might find a tuna, mahi-mahi, or giant trevally instead. The tuna is the only other pier fish November through April, so you can still earn 7,000/10,500 bells.

Mahi-mahi is a size 5 and rare fish that sells for 6,000 bells at base price. If you get the scare but slightly more common giant trevally, you're still bringing home 4,500/6,750 bells. Being unlocked after only 20 fish, you'll have early access to money with no guesswork involved.

You won't go wrong with any of these when you find them, especially November through April. While they might spawn very rarely, they're all worth it, so don't pass up any large shadow you see at the pier! 


Finned fish

The iconic predators of the sea (though, some less scary).

While we're talking about the beautiful coastline, summer (June to September) is going to be a prime season for reliable money. 

These earned their own title, since they're all the same size with an obvious flag on top. No need to think twice, simply reel them in! You'll be in luck when finding finned fish (say that 10x fast).

While they might be scarce to rare, you'll end up finding more than you expect, due to the fact that they all exist at the same time. Summer fishing runs are some of the easiest.

The least you'll earn is 1,500 bells each time from the suckerfish, who's here all day and looks like his forehead was melted with an iron. Even maxing out on suckerfish and selling to CJ will return 60,000 bells.


[8] Sunfish

The poor sunfish was caught with a look of surprise.

It's not just about the smallfry, though. The sunfish is the next best fish, and it only goes up from here!

Sunfish will sell for 4,000/6,000 bells. You'll find them from 4am to 9pm. They're quite the fun catch with their unique shape, like something you'd see waving in the wind.


[9] Hammerhead Shark

A hammerhead shark brought up for a visit on land.

Next up for your summer hunting is the hammerhead shark. This iconic creature is surprisingly available after only 20 catches also.

Many young players enjoy catching this, since it’s something of an icon in many childhoods. If you asked kids about sharks, the unique hammerhead is sure to be mentioned.

You'll find it from 4pm to 9am. From Timmy and Tommy you'll earn 8,000 bells. From CJ, though, you'll be getting 12,000!


[10] Saw Shark

Did you see the shark I saw?

If you're looking for another tool for earning money, the saw shark will be perfect. These needley creatures are equally as scarce as the hammerhead shark and also appear from 4pm to 9am.

Instead, this shark will go for a wonderful 12,000 bells. Saving it for CJ will get you 18,000. Using CJ for high-ticket fish like this makes a gigantic difference!


[11] Whale Shark

Who would believe you if you caught this gentle giant?

The elegant monolith whale shark is free after 50 catches. Surprisingly, it's available all day. And, it's also not the most rare and only scarce, or 4 out of 5 stars!

Your jaw might just drop each time you secure one. This giant comes out of the sea like a ship reborn. It's 5 times wider than your character!

Selling for 13,000 bells is a fitting price. Save for the master angler and you'll get 19,500!


[12] Great White Shark

The most iconic catch for master and aspiring anglers.

Truly the greatest of them all, the great white shark is one of the best you can find! Intimidating with their power and size, of course they'll go for a hefty price.

They're most rare and also spawn between 4pm and 9am. Great whites go for 15,00! Offload to CJ and you'll get 22,500 bells!

Once you catch one of these, you’ll really know you’re the big fish. An early congratulations to such a skilled angler who can achieve this!


[13] Stringfish

A rather fat looking "string"fish

We're done with the sea, but not with easy guessing! At the top of waterfalls after catching 100 fish, you'll find the stringfish.

All the similar fish in these spots appear from 4pm to 9am in the spring and fall. Many players try to find the golden trout, which goes for the same price. But it's 5 out of 5 stars for rarity, and more often ends up being a char or cherry salmon that sell for only 1,000 to 3,800 bells.

There won't be any competition, since the stringfish shows up at the same time but from winter to early spring. March is the only month of overlap. When you find stringfish, you can sell them for 15,000/22,500 bells.


[14] Giant Snakehead

A giant snakehead reeled in on a beautiful day.

The giant snakehead may sound deceptively scary and not-fishy. It's a great one to catch, though. It's the only extra large shadow in ponds.

After reaching the 50 mark, you'll see them from 9am to 4pm. From June to August you can witness the giant snakehead.

While they're more rare and might take time to find, there's not anything to mistake it for once you can tell sizes. They can provide a nice 5,500/8,250 bells each time in the summer.


[15] Gar

The slick, jaguar-patterned gar captured.

Also a rare fish in ponds, the gar is the only fish with the huge shadow. The brown needle-nosed fish are around after 50 catches.

Look out for the largest size 4pm to 9am from June to September. If you snag one, it'll be a secure 6,000 bells. CJ bumps that to a much better 9,000.

Don’t be discouraged by any rarity. Everything will appear to you in time when following this guide, and you’ll turn out wiser in fewer steps. Now get to fishing before it slips away!

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Born with a penchant for creating, Alanna dabbles in every kind of magic to increase her power. Creating worlds from words, there is no end in sight for what she will conquer with her trusty feline.
Gamer Since: 2001
Favorite Genre: MOBA
Currently Playing: Animal Crossing New Horizons
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