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Animal Crossing Stringfish: How to catch and find the river clifftop location

How to find the fish before it leaves at the end of the month.

Stringfish is one of the more elusive fish to find in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

As it only appears four months out of the year, time is of the essence when it comes to finding one.

This page explains everything you need to know about catching a Stringfish - from times to the location - so you can get it before it leaves your island for the year.

On this page:

If you're looking for help with other fish leaving the Northern Hemisphere at the same time, our Sturgeon page can help.

Where and when can I catch a Stringfish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons?

You can find a Stringfish at the following times and place:

  • Stringfish months: December to March (Northern Hemisphere), June to September (Southern Hemisphere)
  • Stringfish times: 4pm to 9am
  • Stringfish location: River (Clifftop)
  • Stringfish selling price: 15,000 Bells

That's the essentials of catching a Stringfish - but it's one thing to know how to get one, and actually finding it...

Where is the river clifftop, and how do you catch a Stringfish there?

The river clifftop is any elevated part of the river in the north of the island.

Accessing this requires you have unlocked the Ladder, a tool which allows you to climb up the cliffs.

The clifftop area features the source of the river and several waterfalls, but as long as your fishing within this elevated river (and not, say, a pond on top of a cliff) the Stringfish can appear after 4pm.

Focus on any elevated river you have to use the Ladder to access - and look between 4pm and 9am.

The Stringfish is a large fish, making it easy to distinguish compared to other types. If you can't see any appearing, run away from the river and back toward it to 'refresh' what appears there.

If nothing is showing up, remember you use fish bait to force a fish to spawn at your location.

Alternatively, a tactic is visiting a Mystery Island which has a clifftop river. These are rare, so may take a few visits before you find one, but the benefit is Mystery Islands will see increased fish spawns compared to your island.

You can then promote the spawning of fish in specific locations by scaring away the fish elsewhere in the river by throwing in your lure, then removing it just as they're about to bite.

If you start at the river clifftop, then work down the river to the sea, scaring the fish as you go, when you return to the clifftop a fish should have spawned back where you started. It's obviously not guaranteed to be a Stringfish, but saves you crafting and burning through loads of fish bait on your own island.

Cover image for YouTube videoAnimal Crossing: New Horizons Gameplay - Catching a Stringfish

The Animal Crossing 2.0 update and Happy Home Paradise is here! We can help you with the new additions - including where to find Brewster, Gyroids, new villagers, ordinances, new fences, storage shed, new hairstyles, Froggy Chair, group stretching and Kapp'n boat tours. Cooking is now unlockable, so you need to know how to make both flour and sugar, as well as how to grow carrots, potatoes and tomatoes. Meanwhile, if you're new to Animal Crossing, our New Horizons tips can help with the basics. From the off, there's fish and bugs to catch, flowers and fruit to grow with. One long term goal is building your Happy Home Academy score. Finally, you need tools such as the new ladder and vaulting pole to fully explore.

Ultimately, as with any rare fish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, catching the fish you need requires luck and a lot of patience. Catch everything you see and eventually it will appear.

For us, this involved catching a lot of other fish along the way, so if you run out of room, deposit them against the bank to sell for later, or take a break and go to the shops to clear your inventory.

Also, double check you are fishing at the right time; Stringfish only appear in the evening hours starting at 4pm, before disappearing at 9am.

Our advice is to start attempting to catch this as soon as you can, as marathon fishing sessions can be taxing as you come up to the end-of-the-month deadline.

Best of luck! Once you're done, remember to make sure you have caught all other fish leaving at the end of the month - which, for those in the Northern Hemisphere, includes the Sturgeon.

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Matthew Reynolds avatar

Matthew Reynolds


Matthew Reynolds edited guides and other helpful things at Eurogamer from 2010 - 2023. When he wasn't doing that, he was out and about playing Pokémon Go or continuing to amass his amiibo collection.