Back in my day, we had to beg our parents for a RuneScape subscription. Some of us even mailed(!) our subscription payments all the way to the UK. It’s quite a bit easier nowadays, but a lot of Runescape players are still unsubbed (also called free-to-play/F2P). No judgment here — I have a few other MMOs begging for my monthly funds, not to mention things like food and rent.

There’s something cathartic about rolling up to a pixelated shore and hearing the staticky splash of water as my character lures the catch of the day, member or no. So for those of us with all day to fish and no Catherby to fish at, let’s crack open the Level 1-99 Fishing Guide for OSRS F2P.

Preparing for the F2P Fishing Grind

OSRS F2P Fishing Guide 2
Mitch Gentry / High Ground Gaming

As with all epic journeys in RuneScape, our OSRS F2P Fishing Guide starts with some shopping. One of the items you’ll need is free for the price of a click. For high quantity items, you’ll want to use the Grand Exchange. For the rest, use Gerrant’s Fishy Business in Port Sarim.

Here’s a handy table with the tools and accessories we’re going to need for the grind. For quantity, we’ll assume you’re earning XP at the lowest rate possible if multiple fish types can be caught, so you’ll likely have a few left over. You could also buy the high quantity items in batches to get the exact number you need, but that means more trips to the market.

The different quantities per level come into play when we discuss the different routes up the level ladder in a bit. Additionally, let’s assume your Fishing is currently sitting at level 1, but you’ve raised some other skills and have a bit of coin to work with. So we’re going to talk stock for the whole nine yards.

Tools of the Trade

Item NameShop PriceQuantity
Small fishing net5gp1
Fishing rod5gp1
Fly fishing rod5gp1
Lobster pot20gp1
Harpoon5gp1
Fishing bait3gp61 to level 20
Feather2gp656/260,600 to level 40/99

Feathers are obviously going to be your biggest money sink. They’re used with the Fly fishing rod for river fishing (Trout/Salmon), which offers some of the fastest XP to Level 99. But if you’re like me, you’ll want to mix things up once in a while. To put it bluntly, while you may need a total of 260,600 (or fewer) feathers to hit 99, you may be wise not to buy them all at once.

F2P Fishing Routes to 99

OSRS F2P Fishing Guide 1
Mitch Gentry / High Ground Gaming

As with most things in life, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. The difficulty here is based on your discipline and focus. Many guides will emphasize maximum profitability or maximum hourly XP when plotting your route, but they don’t allow for a lot of gameplay variety.

We’ll offer you both the profitable and the XP-efficient routes, but will also suggest a way to mix things up a bit. Fishing provides an excellent opportunity to level Cooking simultaneously, but it tanks your XP per hour (and your profit, in some cases). That said, the ability to level two birds with one stone may be the change of pace you need to keep your goals in sight during the marathon.

Assuming you’re starting at level 1, the best place to begin is the Fishing Tutor south of Lumbridge. Pick up the Small fishing net from the ground beside him and start netting those shrimp. The next steps will be up to you.

For profit and XP efficiency, we’ll assume you’ll be getting the lowest rate possible if multiple fish types can be caught, just like we did for quantity above. It’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised. Profit will also assume you sell your goods on the Grand Exchange for maximum returns.

F2P Fishing: The Profitable Way

OSRS F2P Fishing Guide 4
Mitch Gentry / High Ground Gaming

The first potential route in our OSRS F2P fishing guide? Fishing for progitability.Being profitable means lots of banking, which is going to take a lot of time. Too much time, perhaps, to even consider Cooking, which would result in burnt fish and a loss in profit anyway. Stick with raw fish for now. But if you (like a pirate) have an unhealthy fascination with gold, this is the way.

Ideally, you’d complete The Corsair Curse and Dragon Slayer to unlock the Corsair Cove Resource Area, a place to fish high-level fish that you can bank at the Corsair Cove bank. It costs 1,200gp to get there from Port Sarim, but you’ll save a ton on the trips you’d be making from Musa Point on Karamja back to a bank.

LocationLevel RangeTargetXP GainProfit
Draynor Village1-40Shrimp/Anchovies37,224+/- 21,456gp
Corsair Cove Resource Area40-50Lobster64,109+/- 152,582gp
Corsair Cove Resource Area50-99Tuna/Swordfish12,933,098+/- 9,214,832gp
Total13,034,431+/- 9,388,870gp

F2P Fishing: The XP-Efficient Way

OSRS F2P Fishing Guide 3
Mitch Gentry / High Ground Gaming

If you couldn’t care any less about profits but can’t stand the thought of XP waste, the XP efficient route is for you. You’ll spend a lot more time fly fishing near the Barbarian Village and will need to get good at shift-clicking to drop items, but the results will speak for themselves. All this for the low, low cost of several hundred thousand feathers.

As we alluded to above, expect to drop anything you catch. Instead of catch-and-release, it’s more of a catch-and-let-it-flounder-on-land.

LocationLevel RangeTargetXP GainHours Spent
Lumbridge Swamp1-20Shrimp/Anchovies4,4701.5-3hrs
Barbarian Village20-99Trout/Salmon13,029,961261-522hrs
Total13,034,431262.5-525hrs

F2P Fishing: The High Ground Gaming Way

OSRS F2P Fishing Guide 5
Mitch Gentry / High Ground Gaming

We play games for dozens of hours. Hundreds isn’t unheard of. But as the saying goes, “life is about the journey, not the destination.” If grinding away and clicking the same fishing spot for hundreds of hours isn’t your jam, that’s perfectly alright. Let’s call this the World Tour of F2P Fishing.

We’ll even throw in a little Cooking while we’re at it. We’ll need to assume that Cooking XP Gains are less than or equal to what’s listed on our table, as we’re continuing with the assumption that you’ll catch fewer fish. Cooking also guarantees a handful of burnt fish, especially if they’re higher-level catches. That’s okay — they’re all happy little accidents on the road to culinary competency.

Remember to bring coins for any trips to and from the Corsair Cove and Musa Point on Karamja. Also note that when fishing at the Corsair Cove Resource Area, there’s a cooking fire to the south that can be used to minimize trips to the bank.

This method will assume we’re banking and taking breaks to cook. The hours involved don’t matter — the fun does. If you want to take a break from fishing or cooking to chase down a quest or do a little PKing with your freshly-caught swordfish, who’s going to stop you? No one, that’s who!

Time we enjoy wasting isn’t wasted.

LocationLevel RangeTargetFishing XPCooking XP
Lumbridge Swamp1-20Shrimp/Anchovies4,47013,410
Barbarian Village20-40Trout/Salmon32,75445,850
Corsair Cove Resource Area40-50Lobster64,109192,240
Musa Point50-60Tuna/Swordfish172,409215,500
Lumbridge60-70Trout/Salmon463,885649,390
Corsair Cove Resource Area70-80Tuna/Swordfish1,248,4411,560,500
Lumbridge80-85Trout/Salmon1,272,5261,781,500
Corsair Cove Resource Area85-90Lobster2,087,7382,783,640
Barbarian Village90-99Trout/Salmon7,688,09910,763,270
Total13,034,43118,005,300

For that last sprint, we spend a lot of time at Barbarian Village. But by the time you hit level 90 and realize you aren’t even halfway to 99, you’ll probably be ready to grind out some levels, too. Fly fishing is simply the fastest XP for F2P Fishing, and you’ll have plenty of fish on hand (or gold from selling them raw or cooked) to give yourself meaningful breaks from the routine.

By the time you’re done, you’ll have 99 in Fishing, and either 99 (or close to it) in Cooking. Not to mention all the adventures you’ll have along the way, because that’s what it’s all about.

F2P Fishing Victory Lap

If you’re reading this at level 99 Fishing, you’ve accomplished something significant. Getting level 99 in any skill is no small feat. Congratulations! Take a moment to savor the feeling knowing that all the fish on Gielinor have come to know and fear your name. Other skills can wait a day or two. You earned this.

We hope that our F2P Fishing Guide OSRS Edition helped you on your journey. Stay tuned to High Ground Gaming for more top-tier gaming guides to come!

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Further Reading