As one of the most famous Amazon rainforest animals and one of the most feared fish in the world, the piranha has taken on an almost mystical persona in the minds of many travellers to the region. As a result, many visitors to the jungle want to catch their very own meat-eating fish, with some taking their teeth, or entire skeleton, home as a souvenir of their trip.
Though piranha are not to be trifled with, if you join one of the authorised Amazon Jungle expeditions lead by experienced locals, catching your own piranha shouldn’t be too hard. You’ll just need a little bit of patience, some expert advice and a lot of courage.
Piranha can be found in the Amazon River Basin, the Orinoco River, the rivers of the Guianas and the Sao Francisco River system.
Some piranha have also been found as far afield as China and Bangladesh, though these are thought to have been released by smugglers rather than having travelled across the globe themselves.
Like all Amazon rainforest animals, Piranha have favoured locations and conditions. The best way to find a good fishing spot is to take local advice or join an organised expedition.
Their famously voracious appetite for meat means that the only bait worth using is a piece of raw flesh. Like sharks, piranha can smell blood from miles away so the fresher the meat, the better.
Most organised piranha fishing trips take visitors by boat or dugout canoe to the best spots. There, you should be given a pole with a fishing line and bait attached and then it’s just a matter of patience.Fishing
If you’re feeling especially brave, you could copy the technique of some Brazilian fishermen who stand on small jetties and dangle meat into the water with their bare hands.
The reputation of piranha as the fiercest Amazon rainforest animals came about after a visit bykeen adventurer Theodore Roosevelt.
To give him a good show, a group of local fishermen blocked off a section of the Amazon River and starved the piranha within it. When the president arrived at the spot, the fishermen threw a cow into the river and watched as the hungry piranha quickly stripped it to the bone.
In reality, though the fish do kill a few unlucky people every year, they are not as dangerous as you may think and, as long as you follow expert advice and listen to the locals, it is a safe, fun and exciting way to spend your time in the Amazon.