Jumping Fish

Simply put, Jumping Fish is the presence of fish indicated by having one or more fish literally "jumping" out of a source of water (lake, river, etc.), especially when the characters suggest looking for food. These fish often soar two or three times their body lengths straight up before splashing back into the water, for no other reason than to advertise their presence.

In Real Life, most fish do not jump out of the water or, if they do, emerge only an inch or two to catch prey just on the surface. However, Jumping Fish can be used as a visual shorthand, to quickly show not only that there are hungry fish to be caught but also to cut down the time it would otherwise take to see if a body of water actually has any fish in it.

Not to be confused with Jumping the Shark. Or the Flying Seafood Special.


  • In Monster Rancher, "Undine's Lake", just when everyone is complaining about a lack of food, some fish jump out of the lake, prompting them to start fishing.
  • In a Porky Pig comic, Porky and his nephew Cicero bathe three large, flea-covered dogs in the lake, causing the fleas to scatter. The lake's fish immediately jump to eat the fleas, attracting the attention of nearby fishermen.
  • The Age of Empires series uses jumping fish to indicate fishing locations.
    • Empire Earth and Pharaoh also use the fish-as-resource location marker.
  • Seen on a Barney Bear cartoon. The fish disappear when a duck flies in to give Barney trouble.
  • Several Mariokart games have tracks with jumping fish that try to throw off your concentration. They don't actually smack into you, but they do distract.
  • In the original Star Fox, Fortuna features a large body of water from which giant fish leap to attack you and your wingmen.
  • Theme Park example: a pond in Disneyland's Frontierland has mechanical fish that periodically jump.
  • One of random animations for water hexagons in Age of Wonders 2.
  • There are a few levels across the Super Mario Bros. series that feature Cheeps leaping across the screen in swarms. You can still Goomba Stomp them, but it's tricky since they move so fast.
    • Super Mario World has a few levels where Mario has to cross a body of water on the backs of dolphins which are leaping out of it.
  • The Chopper in the Sonic the Hedgehog series is constantly jumping out of the water.
  • Truth in Television
  • In Dragon Ball Z, this happens at the end of movie 7. Vegeta even makes a comment about it, after Piccolo breaks the fourth wall (this dialogue wasn't in the original, though).
  • On Sesame Street, there was a sketch where Ernie and Bert went fishing and Ernie got fish to jump into the boat by calling them.
  • In the Strong Bad Email "lures and jigs", Strong Bad cause fish to jump into his boat by singing.
  • Magikarp of Pokémon learns both Splash (Which is supposed to mean "hop") and Bounce, both a reference to its jumping ability.