Link outside Martha's Bau and Catfish's Maw

Continuing part six of our Zelda: Link's Awakening walkthrough it's time to dive into Catfish’s Maw dungeon, finding the Map and Compass and discovering a new item: Hookshot.

Catfish’s Maw Walkthrough

Entering Catfish’s Maw

Link over the diving entrance to the Catfish's Maw

The Catfish’s Maw is pretty tough to miss, prominent as it is in the south-western corner of the bay. In the lower left corner of the rock formations you will find a stream of bubbles rising to the surface: swim above them and dive (press B) to enter a brief underwater side-scrolling area. Surface and enter the cave.

Locate the Catfish’s Maw Compass

Catfish's Maw starting room

Welcome to the Catfish’s Maw. The exit to this initial room is on the left of the room – a hint perhaps at the direction you’ll be taking a lot, early in this dungeon. Step through and head left in the next room. In the following T-junction you will find that you have to kill all enemies before you are able to progress – a common element of this dungeon. Take the left exit when it opens up.

Link receives the Catfish's Maw compass

Open the chest in the next room to receive the compass. (The Helmasaur enemies in the screenshot need to be attacked from behind for now).

Acquiring the Catfish’s Maw Stone Beak

Link jumps over the counterweighted platforms

Once you have the compass, head down the staircase available to the left of the same room. You will enter a sidescrolling area with a sequence of chain platforms – stepping on the rightmost platforms will raise those on the left.

On the second set of these, avoid resting on the first stone too long, and wait a little longer on the second – this should ensure that you can reach platforms 3 and 4, and easily jump to the ladder on the left side of the room.

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Link pushes blocks into a square formation

Clear the next room of enemies and purple crystals – watch out for the new red Stalfos who will throw bones at you as well as dodging backwards from your sword swings. Push the moveable blocks together to form a square shape and you will receive a Small Key.

If you head left at this point you will find a dead-end. The tiles in this room form a soon-to-be familiar skull shape with four differently textured tiles in each corner. Expect to come back here eventually.

Link unlocks a door at the first T-junction

Finally, it’s time to head right – return through the rooms you have just been through until you reach the T-junction with the locked door at the top. Spend your Small Key and head through the door.

Link dodges blade traps

Once through the door it’s time to turn left again – and in the next room you’ll be – you got it – going left (while avoiding/jumping those spike traps!)

Link recieves the Catfish's Maw stone beak

In the next room you’ll want to take out the Helmasaurs again to spawn a chest containing the Stone Beak.

Fighting Master Stalfos – Encounters 1 to 3, Claiming the Catfish’s Maw Dungeon Map

Link hears wise words from an owl statue regarding an upcoming boss

Return right two screens and head up. Use your stone beak in the Owl Statue for some timely advice:

If you can’t destroy a skeleton with your sword, try using a bomb.

Head through the door at the top of the screen.

Link places a bomb on the Master Stalfos' bone pile

Well, what do you know – a skeleton you can’t destroy with your sword! Guard against its sword swings and maneouver towards his sword-hand to get an attack in with your own sword – he will collapse into a pile of bones. Follow the Owl Statue’s advice and plant a bomb – this will damage him. Repeat three times and he will run off.

Note again the tile pattern on the floor in this room – vaguely skull like, with a single differently textured tile.

The Master Stalfos leaves a note to taunt Link

In the corridor outside you find a treasure chest with a message from the Stalfos you just fought:

I’ve got what was inside this box. Come and get it, if you can!
-Master (Stalfos)

Astute players will figure out that we’ll be spending the next chunk of the dungeon seeking out rooms with the skull-tile pattern in order (returning to “room four” to the left of the gem-filled room we found our first small key in, later in the sequence).

If you head right, down the stairs in the current room you will enter a short sidescrolling area and can find another Owl Statue with the following message:

Dive under where torchlight beams do cross…

This route is otherwise a dead-end, so return to the corridor with the looted chest, then head north.

Link turning left at crossroads with five blocks

The crossroads here features five blocks, the centre one of which can be pushed to open up two exits (while blocking the third). We actually want to head through the righthand door first, but it is currently locked.

Push the centre block upwards, head left and transition to the next screen – then immediately turn back round. The blocks will reset. Push the centre block right and step on the button to open the righthand door. Head to the top of the screen to transition, return and reset. Finally, push the centre block downwards and head through the now open door to the right.

Second encounter with the Master Stalfos

You’ve found the Master Stalfos again – the fight proceeds exactly the same way as before, and ends with him running off to another skull-tiled room.

Link heads left in northern area

Head back to the crossroads with the five blocks. Push the centre block to the left and head upwards again. Continue going up – you will need to jump a trench and avoid some shrouded Stalfos. Leave via the top-left exit of this room.

Link pushes a block to get at a Zol

In the next room you will need to defeat all enemies to open the gate at the top. The Zol (green blob) on the left-side of the room can only be reached by pushing the fifth block from the top to the left.

Master Stalfos third encounter

The next room contains your third encounter with the Master Stalfos – don’t expect anything different from this encounter, even his dialogue is the same! Once he retreats for the third time, head through the door that has opened to the left.

Link recieves the Catfish's Maw Dungeon Map

A chest is waiting for you in the next room, containing the Dungeon Map.

Finishing Master Stalfos - Catfish’s Maw Miniboss, Hunting the Hookshot

Link returning to the south of the dungeon to head left

As observed above, the fourth Master Stalfos encounter is found in the extreme southwest of the dungeon. Follow your route back down to the first T-Junction you encountered and head left for several screens – past the compass room, through the sidescrolling area with the counter-weighted platform blocks, and through the gem-filled room in which you found the first Small Key.

The Master Stalfos defeated

The Master Stalfos appears for the fourth and final time – he has no new moves, and finally does you the service of exploding into magenta flames like every good miniboss before him.

Link receives the hookshot

Best of all, he leaves you the Hookshot, a tool with a bunch of uses in this dungeon and beyond, for instance it can:

  • Stick into and pull you towards wooden objects, including blocks and treasure chests
  • Grab retractable bridges and pull them towards you
  • It’s useful in combat too – you can use it to steel Helmasaur helmets, for instance, and it is used for the upcoming bosses

Finding the Catfish’s Maw Nightmare Boss Key

Link hookshots to a chest

Head back to the right. At the T-Junction room containing what was the dungeon’s first unlockable door, you can head through an exit in the upper right to test your hookshot out on a chest containing 100 Rupees. Fire your hookshot at the wooden block on the other side of the chasm when you’re done.

Link heads north at the crossroads with the five blocks

You may remember passing a number of chests on the route between Master Stalfos encounters 2 and 3, so let’s see what’s in them. Go up several rooms to reach the crossroads with the five blocks and gain access to the top route again (push centre block up, head left and return, push centre block right).

Jump the trench in the next room, then jump diagonally across to the one piece of land opposite the chest. Hookshot across to this chest for 50 rupees. Head right.

Link hookshots to a chest containing a small key

Hookshot across the gap and open the chest in the next room to receive a Small Key. Return to the previous room and head north. Use your hookshot to pull the bridge towards you and open yet another 50 rupee chest. Hookshot back to the main part of the room. Then head back down to the crossroads. Push the centre block down and head left.

Negotiate the blade traps and enemies in the next room and head to the exit in the top left.

Link about to dive where the light from the torches crosses

This room contains the spot “where torchlight beams do cross” that you should dive into – step into the deep water and press the B button. Head through the underwater sidescrolling area and exit via the ladder.

Link grabs a bridge with his hookshot

Shoot your hookshot at the extendable bridge across the large pit. Follow the path round to the chest.

Link claims the Catfish's Maw Nightmare key

You’ve just successfully located the Nightmare Key – but you’re not out of the woods yet. In fact, there’s another Miniboss to fight before we find the dungeon’s main boss.

Defeating Gohma - Catfish’s Maw Miniboss #2

Link about to head to the top door in the blade trap room

It’s time for a healthy bit of backtracking. Head back to the first room after the first door you unlocked – that’s back through the underwater passage, down at the crossroads with the five blocks, back through the room where we first fought the Master Stalfos. Follow the stream south and turn left. (or, if you have Manbo’s Mambo – play it and head two screens left, one screen up, then one screen left).

In the room with the four blade traps and the two Helmasaurs, take the top exit.

Link heads left for one last small key

Though that bridge to the right of the next room is certainly tempting, head left for now.

Link hookshots past blade traps

Fire your hookshot at the wooden block across the next room to sail past the moving blades and head through the exit to the upper left.

Link hookshots to a small key containing chest

Use the chest to hookshot your way across the chasm. Dispatch the Helmasaurs and open the chest – you’ll receive another Small Key.

Link opens up a bridge on his way to the next miniboss

Return to the room with the extendable bridge – smash the pot halfway across the bridge’s span for a fairy (bottle it if you have space and health to spare).

Link about to unlock a lock block

Head left and spend one of your Small Keys in the Lock Block.

Link stuns the last remaining Gohma with his hookshot

In the next room you will encounter the dungeon’s second miniboss – two Armored Arachnids called ‘Ghoma’ – impervious to your sword attacks, spitting projectiles out of a single giant eye. Those huge peepers are just begging for a poke with something sharp: wait until their eyelid starts to shake and fire the hookshot (if their whole body starts to shake, step out of their way instead). The hookshot to the eye trick will daze the Gohma, leaving you a good opening to let off a flurry of sword strikes.

Rinse and repeat until both Gohma fall. Head out of the upper right exit.

Defeating the Catfish’s Maw Boss

If you’ve been following this guide up to this point you should have the Nightmare Key and a single Small Key – if you do not, push one of the blocks in the next room downwards, and go looking for whatever you’re missing. Everyone else should head right and then down the stairs to enter an sidescrolling area in the underground.

Hookshotting along the way to the nightmare's chamber

Moving left you will see a couple of devices tucked in certain corners featuring an arrow-shaped notch. Aim up and fire your Hookshot to be pulled up to them, and exit using the ladder.

Link hookshots across a chasm near the Nightmare's chamber

Spend a small key at the lock-block that is in the way as you emerge into the next room. Hookshot across the gap and head to the left to find the Nightmare door – use your Nightmare Key and step inside.

Ready for battle? Let's continue our Zelda: Link's Awakening walkthrough by learning How To Defeat Catfish's Maw Boss before seeking out the Face Key Location, Ancient Ruins and Boomerang.