Solution to Catch and Release

Back to Puzzle


by Nathan Pinsker

In this puzzle, you're tasked with catching 80% of the fish at ⊥IW. There are a total of 5 pools of fish spread throughout the Institute. Each pool has its own rule governing which fish you catch; you'll need to figure out these rules to catch all the fish in each location.

Each pool has a fishing notebook next to it, showing your overall progress and which fish you've caught in each area. Pools also each have a non-player character nearby, who hints at how to catch the fish. These characters' hints will be italicized below.

Charles River (art: DD Liu)

Charles River fishing area
"I can't catch any fish! I hear lobsters like having people around..."

This hints at other people being the key to catching fish here. Some experimentation (i.e. calling your teammates over to fish with you) will yield different types of fish. The fish you catch here is governed by the number of teammates in the scene: having one teammate in this scene will only result in trash, but having two through seven teammates will result in catching the six unique smobsters in this pool. (Having eight or more teammates will give the same result as seven.)

SmobsterThe original snippy boi.
First colonized the Charles by hitching a ride with intergalactic space traders.
HogsterA lobster with a pig head.
Likes to root for truffles. The chocolate kind.
TailsterA lobster with a deep-fried tail.
Tailster used Tail Whip! It's super effective!
ClawsterA lobster with twice as many claws.
Surprisingly, it's docile and makes for a good pet.
PhonesterA lobster with phones in place of pincers.
It'll "claw" you back?
OnionsterA lobster whose head is an onion.
The onion on its head sprouts into a tree which bears more lobsters.

Building 16 Basement (art: Joie)

Building 16 fishing area
"This lake changes color...wild."

"Changing color" is the key to the fish here. You can change either your hair color or your visor color, and experimenting will demonstrate that it's your hair color that controls the fish you catch. Depending on your hair color of choice — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or purple — you'll catch a fish that (roughly) corresponds with that color.

Red CuttlefishLoves to cuddle. Wishes he got as much attention as his senpai, Red Herring.
GoldfishA world traveler, she's swum the rivers of over a hundred countries.
Butter SalmonSuave, stylish, and smooth, this salmon goes where she pleases.
Verdant CatfishMany think it's the tastiest fish on the planet.
Sapphire JellyfishHer friend got a cannoli from the North End. She's a little jelly.
Indigo GuppyLurks the free food mailing lists. Always gets the food before anyone else.

Killian Court (art: Alan Huang)

Killian Court fishing area
"Oh man, there are Pokémon in this pool! I just caught a Tentacool (072) and a Staryu (120)! Come to think of it...I just entered those into the Lobby 10 clusters keypad..."

The key here is the suggestion to enter the numbers into the Lobby 10 clusters keypad. Because of the way that keypad works, in order to enter a number you must press the '#' key between every digit press. When you enter in either 072 or 120, the keypad will flash green, suggesting you're on the right track. You can then go back to the fishing pool and fish up the Pokémon corresponding to those Pokédex numbers.

To catch the rest of the Pokémon, you need to identify their species from the provided silhouette. (Noticing that they're all water Pokémon speeds up the search significantly.) Then repeat the same process: enter each (National) Pokédex number into the nearby Cluster keypad, then return to the fishing spot and fish the corresponding Pokémon up.

The most common water Pokémon, Tentacool seems to have found its way to the Institute as well.
Many people aspire to be Magikarp, blithely flopping and gasping their way through life.
Many Staryu live on the underside of the Harvard Bridge. They do not like the Sodium Drop.
In the evening, Lanturns swim out to the Charles to light the way home for sailors.
Corsola's branches are very tasty.
Do not eat the Corsola. DO NOT DO IT!
A rotund whale Pokémon. Sometimes gets mistaken for a Spheal.
A flat Pokémon shaped like a heart.
What do you call two Luvdiscs in love? A Luvyoyo!

⊥IW Chapel (art: DD Liu)

⊥IW Chapel fishing area
"You should try fishing in the Chapel pool! I couldn't catch anything at first... But I had a lot better luck right after a great conversation."

This student hints at "talking to others", so you should start by talking to someone nearby. After some experimentation, you may notice you'll catch something if you talked to someone before casting your line. To catch all the fish, the key is to keep talking to more and more people, and fishing directly after each one. As you keep talking to new people and then fishing, you'll catch more and more glorious Cakefish. (On your seventh new person, you'll catch the rarest fish, the Mature Cakefish.)

More specifically, after you talk to someone in the Student Center area and then fish, they're permanently assigned a number. The first such person will get the number 1, the second person gets 2, and so on. The fish you catch depends on the number of the last person you talked to: with a number of 1 or 2, you'll get a Sproutling; with 3 or 4, a Cakefishling, and so on, until you catch a Mature Cakefish with a number of 7 or more.

SproutlingEvolves into Cakefishling when immersed into a frothy bowl of whipped cream.
CakefishlingA slightly older Sproutling. Likes to gaze up at the stars in wonder.
CakefishA common Cakefish, delicious and moist.
Don't confuse it with the common fishcake!
Mature CakefishIts whipped cream is the stuff of legends. One bite and all other desserts will be erased from your mind.

Athletics Field (art: Alan Huang)

Athletics Field fishing area
"AHHH!! I really really REALLY want to catch fish! But they say good things come to those who wait... *siiiigh*"

The fish you catch here is determined by the number of seconds you wait between seeing the "!" symbol and reeling in. The fish on the journal page are sorted by how long you have to wait, so once you've caught most of them, it isn't too hard to nail down the remaining few.

Aperchure Science reminds test subjects that portals are fishers in the very fabric of space, not just a series of pipefish.
Phantom of the Octorator
Sneaks into the aquarium through the pipes and prank calls people, pretending to be an angelfish.
The bank's chief executive offisher, rumored to carry a trillion sand dollars in his briefcase. Many call him shellfish.
Cheshire Shark
The last thing many unfortunate fish see is this mad shark's teeth fading into view around them.
University of Fish
It's been a few years and the school of fish is now in college! Some are even pursuing a bassters or PhDory.
Sleeping Hermit
Looks like this crab is resting. Best to let it be.
Not to be confused with the killifish, this unusual species is much sought after for use in sole-playing games.
Hmm, this fish seems to be infected by some kind of extraterrestrial hive organism... Well, I'm sure it'll be fine.
Grampus & Junior
The dates are different, but the residents of the kelp forest also gather each year to celebrate the holiday sea-son.
Cascade Bay Turtle
Always found in pods of three, they're so inseparable that you'd think each was part of the next.

Once you've caught 80% of the fish, you'll automatically complete the field goal, obtaining the answer HYPOCERCAL.

Author’s Notes

Please look at the author's notes on World Fisherman!