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This article is about an older version of DF.

Fishing is the labor used to catch fish. It is a good source of food (and some raw materials) in the early game, though somewhat dangerous since fisherdwarves usually have to go outside and may encounter fell beasts. Its usefulness diminishes somewhat as your fortress grows, superseded by farming.

Making a Dwarf a Fisherdwarf[edit]

  1. Specify your dwarf to be a fisher via view, pref, labor.
  2. Select "Fishing" using + or -, press enter - it may be located on the second page of jobs.

Unlike mining, fishing is done without any tools.

Any dwarf with the Fisherdwarf labor enabled will fish, either in a cave river, an outside river, the swamps (i.e., outdoor lakes, murky pools) or artificial lakes connected to the river. Fisherdwarves can catch various kinds of fish, as well as other aquatic creatures like turtles. Turtles can be very useful to a starting fortress, since eating them uncooked leaves behind bone and shell which your craftsdwarves can use to make trade goods, armour, and ammunition. Skilled fisherdwarves can produce a really immense amount of turtles.

Fishing yields are determined in a manner very similar to that of item quality, based on the dwarf's uncapped Fishing skill level:

  • Stack size starts at d2 (i.e. either 0 or 1, with equal chances of each).
  • If d5 < skill level, stack size is incremented.
  • If d10 < skill level, stack size is incremented.
  • If d15 < skill level, stack size is incremented.
  • If d20 < skill level, stack size is incremented.
  • If d25 < skill level and d3 == 0, stack size is incremented.

How Dwarves Fish[edit]

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Fishing requires no equipment, as Fisherdwarves have developed a highly superior fishing method. When tasked, the dwarf will go out to a body of water he has picked and wade in knee deep. The dwarf then simply lowers his prestigious beard into the water and waits. Inevitably a fish will arrive, attracted by the remains of the dwarf's last meal still lodged in his beard. When the fish makes the fatal error of attempting to acquire this morsel, it is hopelessly entangled.(In some kobold societies they fish exclusively with nets made from dwarf beard hair.) The only flaw in this method is that devilish carp have learned to drag dwarves into rivers by their beard. In some instances, when the carp rips out a significant portion of the Fisherdwarf's beard, he will simply allow himself to drown. Most dwarves see this as more honorable than returning home in horrible beardless shame.

Designating an Area to be Fished[edit]

  1. Press i to bring up the Zones menu.
  2. Create an area on the bank of whatever source you want fishers to fish from by pressing enter and moving your yellow X with the arrow keys until it is of the size and area you want it to be. You will know if this area is good by "Fishing" and "Water Source" turning white and having a number next to its name. "Meeting Area" should also have these qualities to ensure that you are over land as well.
  3. Press enter.
  4. Press f to designate the area as a fishing zone. You can also press w to tell people to drink from this place.


Overfishing can exhaust the fish population of a pond or river, both temporarily and permanently. If a dwarf can not find some fish in a specific area, you will get the message "there is nothing to catch in the [directions] swamps" and the area will no longer be used for fishing. When the season changes, all areas will become available for fishing once again, though eventually they will remain permanently empty and simply give the above message on the first fishing attempt of every season.


Fish cannot be eaten as soon as it is caught; it must be cleaned in a fishery first. (An exception to this rule is the raw mussel, which can be cooked at a kitchen instead of cleaned at a fishery).

Note: The game considers fishing a very high-priority labor, meaning that your fisherdwarf will spend most of their time fishing, usually at the expense of more urgent tasks that need doing. This means if you make your fisherdwarf a fish cleaner as well, the job will never get done and the raw fish will be left in your food stockpile (or on the ground where it was caught, if you do not have one) and will simply rot.


Running-Water Fishing[edit]

Even if the area around your brook or river looks serene, there is a possibility of carp or longnose gar attacks. If you see either of these fish in one part of your river, they can go anywhere. Even if you do not see them immediately, this does not eliminate the possibility of them appearing later. Carp are very dangerous and it is recommended that you read the carp's article for information on how to deal with them.

Swamp Fishing[edit]

Swamp fishing can draw your dwarves far away from the safety of the fortress. If your map has a lot of dangerous wildlife, you may want to consider assigning guard dogs to your fisherdwarf, or post a military squad near the designated fishing zone.