Our previous spotlights have featured several of the most memorable characters in the Pokémon universe, but this time we're casting our line in a new direction—toward the quiet Fisherman. These dedicated folks show up virtually everywhere there's water, attempting to reel in Pokémon (mostly Water types, of course) and engaging in the occasional battle.
After years of playing and watching Pokémon, it may be easy to overlook the countless fishermen going about their business, but they—and fishing itself—have always played a huge role in the world of Pokémon. Get to know these interesting folks a little better in our latest spotlight.
In the Animation
Many fish tales have been told in Pokémon the Series over the years. Throughout their adventures, Ash and friends have taken plenty of opportunities to fish, often with the help of local anglers.
One such fisherman, introduced in “Whiscash and Ash,” is a self-styled “legend” named Sullivan. His fishing skills turn out to be anything but legendary, though—he can't catch much, and our heroes' hooks come up empty, too. But eventually Ash manages to snag a whopper of a Whiscash known as Nero. Sullivan ultimately turns to a surprising lure—a Master Ball—but even that isn't enough to reel Nero in. There may be a lot of fishermen out there, but as Sullivan shows, not all of them are good at actually catching things.
Another fisherman of note from Pokémon the Series is a man appropriately named Rodman, who appears in “Going for the Gold!” This time our guest angler is after a golden Magikarp of legend—Rodman is a curator at Ambrette Aquarium, and he wants to display the rare Pokémon in an exhibit there. By the end of the episode, Rodman is still pursuing his elusive catch—another notable fisherman waiting for a bite.
Of course, our heroes go fishin' plenty of times on their own, too. Cilan is especially talented with a rod and reel, successfully hooking a Stunfisk in “Facing Fear with Eyes Wide Open!” and a big Basculin in “A Fishing Connoisseur in a Fishy Competition!” The A-class Pokémon Connoisseur enjoys fishing so much that in “Best Wishes Until We Meet Again!”, he parts ways with Ash to attend a fishing competition in the Hoenn region.
Even Team Rocket gets in on the fishing fun from time to time. “Big Sky, Small Fry!” opens with the gang trying to haul in a Totem Pokémon under the watchful eye of a local “master fisherman”—that is, until Bewear pops out of the water and carries them away. Needless to say, Ash and Lana have a little bit more luck encountering the Totem Pokémon than Team Rocket does.
With all the bodies of water in the Pokémon universe and the Water-type Pokémon that inhabit them, it's no surprise that fishing is a popular pastime wherever our heroes visit.
In the Pokémon TCG
Taking on a different appearance each time, the Fisherman has made multiple appearances in the Pokémon TCG, and the tools of his trade often join him. These fishing-themed cards turn the discard pile into a metaphorical fishing hole, where players can reel in cards that have been tossed into its murky depths.
Fisherman first showed up as a Supporter card in the Skyridge expansion, providing a way for players to fish basic Energy cards out of the discard pile and into their hand. Fisherman then brought his talents to the HeartGold & SoulSilver expansion, and again to the XY—BREAKthrough expansion. Any good angler knows that a consistent approach is key to reeling in your catch, so little has changed with the Fisherman card since its debut—except the design of the angler and his many-pocketed vest.
We can go even further back in time to find fishing references in the Pokémon TCG. In the Neo Genesis expansion, which launched in 2000, the first Super Rod card appeared. Originally, this Trainer card let you retrieve a Pokémon from your discard pile and put it into your hand, but in the most recent iterations, such as Black & White—Noble Victories and XY—BREAKthrough, it allows players to shuffle Pokémon and Energy cards from their discard pile into their deck.
True to the classic Pokémon fishing experience, the Old Rod and Good Rod have also seen Pokémon TCG action. It's been a while since we've seen these cards, with Old Rod last appearing in the EX Dragon Frontiers expansion and Good Rod showing up only once, in the HS—Unleashed expansion. And as you should be able to guess by now, both rods fish cards out of the discard pile.
The Fisherman and his fishing rods have been making a splash for nearly as long as the Pokémon TCG has been around, so you can surely expect them to continue causing ripples in the game for a long time to come.
In the Video Games
In Pokémon main series titles, it's common to come across Trainers who are itching for a quick battle. But one kind of Trainer that isn't seeking your attention is the Fisherman, who often appears near any open water. They're just trying to go about their business of hauling in Pokémon after Pokémon. Sure, they'll take a moment from their not-very-busy day to have a quick battle. But for the most part, they're content to become a part of the scenery as you continue on your epic journey.
Battling a Fisherman has additional benefits beyond getting some practice against Water-type Pokémon. These fellows will often battle with the Pokémon that are available in the body of water where they're casting their lines. So, once you get your own Rod, you'll have a good idea of where to go to reel in your own Pokémon. It's not always the case, and sometimes you'll have to return with a better Rod to hook one of the Pokémon the Fisherman battled with, but it's a nice rule of thumb.
Then there is the Fisherman who has a particular interest in just one Pokémon—the lowly Magikarp. In Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue, a Trainer on Route 21 set the standard by sending six Magikarp into battle, a feat later repeated multiple times over the years. Most recently, Fisherman Murray in Pokémon X and Pokémon Y brings six to battle along Route 12 in the Kalos region. One intrepid angler that deserves a special shout-out is Fisherman Ronald in Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire: this adept angler on Route 132 will challenge you with one Magikarp and five Gyarados!
Despite being an island archipelago with numerous picturesque fishing spots, the Alola region doesn't seem to have that big of a Magikarp fan. The closest is Fisherman Carl, who battles with Magikarp exclusively—two in Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon and three in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon—on Brooklet Hill on Akala Island. That's also where you meet Lana, a trial captain who is apparently quite talented with the rod and reel. If you complete her trial, she'll offer you one of her very own fishing rods (the only Rod you'll get in Alola) so you can catch more Pokémon on your own. There aren't a lot of other people fishing in Alola, so you shouldn't have too much competition reeling in a whopper.
The tangled lines between Pokémon and the Fisherman have existed since the earliest moments in Pokémon history, and we're sure we'll be telling more fish tales in the future. Until then, look forward to the next Pokémon Spotlight next month!