Catching piranha: choosing a place, fishing methods, bait and tackle


The common piranha is a predatory fish from the vast family of characin-piranhas. It is difficult enough to find a person who does not know about the existence of this fish. From early childhood, from various sources, we are told about the bloodthirstiness of piranha. The reputation of this species is indeed such that it is not always clear where, however, is true and where is fiction. It is worth noting that not all fish of this family should be considered dangerous. For example, metinnis (Metynnis) or fish genera Colossoma (Colossoma) and Mileus (Myleus), the basis of nutrition of which are various plant species. As for predators, they are also represented by several genera, including the most famous species, the common piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri). This is a relatively small fish, the length of which is usually 15-20 cm. But the maximum size can reach 50 cm and weigh up to 4 kg. In general, among other types of piranhas, there are individuals over 1 m in length. The body of the fish has a rounded shape, strongly flattened from the sides. For common piranha, the color of the upper body is dark olive, and the sides are silvery. The entire body is covered with small scales. At a young age, the fish are brightly colored, in adulthood, they become darker. In general, this feature is characteristic of all major species. There are two fins on the back, the back one is small and shifted to the tail. All fish of the family have fleshy lips, which are often damaged during hunting and internecine fights. The jaws have a large number of wedge-shaped teeth. The lower jaw is moved forward, which gives even more ferocity to the appearance. The length of the largest teeth of the lower jaw can reach 2 cm. The force of jaw compression is equivalent to 320 Newtons. Piranha populations are numerous and inhabit various parts of the river. They form large flocks. They are active predators, relying on the swiftness of the attack and surprise. In a group, they attack victims of any size. In search of victims, they rely on a very sensitive sense of smell, vision and lateral line. In a flock of other fish, sick and wounded are quickly identified, in addition, individuals who have succumbed to panic are instantly identified, which also becomes a signal to attack. It is worth noting that piranhas can form a symbiosis with some other fish species, which cleanse them of parasites, and they do not hunt them. Piranhas do not attack their wounded relatives. Damage to the body of piranhas heals quickly. No real cases of people being killed are known. Some species of piranhas specialize in feeding on the scales of other fish or on the fins of larger species. Many conditionally herbivorous species can, however, feed on juveniles of other fish. Others specialize in the fruits of near-aquatic plants. Predators will never miss various representatives of invertebrates, mollusks and so on.

Fishing methods

Due to the large number of species, aggressiveness and voracity, they are a frequent and typical object of fishing on the rivers of the tropical zone of the rivers of South America. Catching piranhas on natural baits does not require special gear, knowledge and skills. Many have seen footage of locals catching piranhas without rods or hooks, using trimmings from animal or fish carcasses. From greed, piranhas sink their teeth into the flesh, and remain hanging on it, you only need to pick it up and throw it ashore. Fish meat is quite tasty and is actively used for food. When fishing with various nozzles using amateur gear, it is necessary to use strong leashes, possibly ordinary metal wire. Leashes are needed, even when catching herbivorous piranhas. Most anglers who come to the tropical rivers of America try to catch a variety of fish species. And, as a rule, the ubiquitous piranhas become a “problem”: due to frequent bites, they make it difficult to focus on the selected representative of the ichthyofauna. The most popular ways of fishing for piranhas can be considered fishing with various gear using natural baits. The second most popular way of amateur fishing is spinning.

Catching fish on a spinning rod

As already mentioned, catching piranhas on spinning is most often associated with catching them as bycatch. If you want to purposefully fish piranhas, then the most important point of the equipment is its strength. First of all, these are leashes and hooks. As already mentioned, the most reliable leash can be a piece of metal wire. The reason is clear – a large number of sharp conical teeth that can destroy any bones. Otherwise, the approaches to choosing baits and the gear itself are more likely related to the personal experience of the angler and his passions. Taking into account the fact that the main types of piranhas are relatively small fish, spinning gear of lighter classes can be used for specialized fishing. But do not forget that a wide variety of fish in tropical rivers is the cause of unexpected bites, where instead of a small piranha, a catfish weighing several kilograms can bite.


The main bait for catching predatory piranhas are natural baits of animal origin. In the case of fishing with artificial lures, the choice should be based on the principle of maximum strength. Or, fishing can turn into “endless replacements” of baits. To catch non-predatory species, local residents often use the fruits of plants, which fish can specialize in feeding.

Places of fishing and habitat

It is worth noting that the piranha family has at least 40 representatives, and probably there are still undescribed species. The distribution area covers large areas of tropical rivers and lakes in South America: Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and other countries. In the rivers it adheres to various places, but rarely lives in the rapids. Flocks actively move along the reservoir.


The spawning behavior of piranhas is quite diverse. Different species spawn at different times. It is known that piranhas are characterized by long pre-spawning games, where pairs are formed. Males prepare a place for spawning and fiercely guard the masonry. Piranha females are highly productive: they lay several thousand eggs. The incubation period depends on the local temperature conditions of the reservoir.

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