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Fishing for piranhas in Brazil

Ever wondered how to fish for piranhas? Here a girl demonstrates how it can be done with your bare hands and a piece of meat. Piranhas are an important source of food in the Pantanal wetlands of Brazil and this is actually a practical way of catching them because their teeth can destroy fishermen’s nets and they are risky to extract when tangled.
YouTube video
The risks aside, piranhas are said to be very tasty and one popular way of cooking them is in a ‘caldo de piranha’ (piranha soup). Piranha Image: Shutterstock

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for this random but quite interesting post.

    I worked crew on Survivor Amazon in 2002. We were based at the Ariau Tower Hotel for 2 months, about 1 1/2 hours upriver from Manaus on the Rio Negros.

    The Challenge Department (who creates the games for the contestants) originally wanted to do several games in the rivers. But after arriving in the Amazon and consulting with wildlife experts, they decided to drop all water-based activities because the rivers were too dangerous with piranha and crocodiles.

    As a result, Challenge Department came up with a few water games on land in ponds or flooded fields instead. They also made one crazy game inspired by piranhas. Huge slabs of meat were hung up by a hooks beside the river. The contestants had their hands tied behind their backs and then had to try eating as much of the meat slab as possible by just lunging at it with their open mouths and teeth.

    I was on the ‘Dream Team’ which does pre-game run-throughs so the Challenge Dept & Art Dept. can see if anything needs to be altered, and to let the Cameramen, Directors and Producers have a test run of filming the games. So I got to be a meat-eating piranha! It was a gruesome bloody mess! One of the crazier challenges I had to rehearse.

    We never did get to try eating piranha while there. A bit unfortunate since we did get to eat many local specialties with the fabulous buffets breakfasts, lunches and dinners we ate every day.

    Have you ever eaten piranha?

    Cheers, Lash

  2. Sounds like a great experience, Lash… and no, I have never eaten piranha but would like to try it! Would be interested in hearing from anyone who has…

  3. Hi Paul,

    Awesome video and way cool story, Lash!

    I’ve never eaten piranha myself, having only watched the fish on TV….and I’ve seen them a few times in aquariam and zoos.

    Makes perfect sense that people would fish for them in this manner. Those jaws and teeth would cut through the nets in seconds.

    I recall one gruesome nature show in particular. The piranha were circling below a whole flock of roosting chicks, of some water bird species. They were big; like egrets or herons.

    You get where I’m going….

    Anyway, when some of the chicks went through their awkward, bumbling stage, they’d fall into the water.

    The piranha picked them clean in minutes. It looked like a dramatization, or some joke in a way, because these birds didn’t even have a chance t get out. Never seen anything like it.

    Within minutes, they went from large water bird to bones, as the swarm efficiently and effectively picked them clean.


    Thanks so much Paul. I look forward to an Amazon trip soon!



  4. Piranha are quite salty and very boney but are delicious. Pantanal is best for seeing animals, not the amazon. I swam in the amazon…like swimming in velvet..tannine etc from leaves an amazing experience.
    Swim where locals swim…piranhas may live or rather attack in some stretches of river but not others. Nobody knows why.

  5. Thank you for dropping by, Jonathan, to tell the curious among us about how they taste! Is it because they are boney that they seem to be commonly used for soup, I wonder…?

  6. Hey Jonathan,

    Thanks for letting us readers know what piranha tastes like! Hmm, salty? Not sure I’d enjoy it then.

    Wow, I missed swimming in the Amazon. That’s too bad. I would have loved to feel velvety water!

    cheers, Lash

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