“Some report on unusual fish, others lead us to little visited corners of much heralded waterways.”

animal crossing unusual species

What are the kids doing on their devices? Fishing, of course, on Nintendo’s breakthrough Animal Crossing.

As much as I bristle when I see kids staring at screens, I’ve gotta hand it to Nintendo. Animal Crossing: New Horizons does fishing.

You can do all sorts of stuff in Animal Crossing. The main objective, as I understand it, is to collect specimens for a zoo. You also develop a community, interact with “villagers” and participate in an island economy.

My oldest daughter, bless her heart, spends much of her time traipsing around her virtual kingdom with a fishing rod. She watches for fish along sandy beaches, in flowing rivers, in alpine lakes. I get frequent reports of new and unusual catches, some destined for her aquarium exhibits, others for barter with talking penguins or sale to the pushy raccoons who tend the store.

There’s the fish you might expect: red snapper, black bass and seabass, but also golden dorado, sawfish, giant snakehead, oarfish, coelacanth—coelacanth! On a canepole! Someone at Nintendo has done their homework.

As for my own homework, I was looking over the list of articles for our “Hidden Gems” destination special when it occurred to me: Florida could well be the model for Nintendo’s virtual fishing paradise. Water all around. Don’t have to travel far to encounter new species.

So, about the assignment we gave our trusty field editors. For this, our first-ever special double issue: Explore and document “the great fishing you didn’t know was there.” Florida’s hidden gems.

Some of our writers report on unusual species such as flathead catfish, swordfish, clown knife fish, and striped bass (actually native to some Florida riversheds). Others lead us to little-visited corners of much-heralded waterways: the marshes on the St. Johns River, the far-out Florida Keys, the tributaries of the Indian River Lagoon (camping on south fork of Sebastian River: I did not know!).

As fishermen it’s in our nature to explore, whether traveling to some far-off destination, poking around in the lake down the street, or even strolling through a digital universe.

The good news is my daughter left her Nintendo Switch device at home as we toured the real Sebastian River recently. She’s starting to really like fishing. Now I have to convince her not to sell those fish to the raccoons. Let’s keep one coelacanth for dinner, honey. Let the rest go. FS

Published Florida Sportsman Magazine August/September 2020

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