9 Pound Pacu Caught in Southern Utah - Piranha Relative

  • Mark Magnera was fishing with his kids at the Washington City Warm Springs, nicknamed "The Boilers" in St. George, Utah, and that's when the unexpected happened - he caught a huge 9 pound Pacu, a South American freshwater fish that’s related to the piranha.


    Magnera wanted to check out the warm-water pond, because it had recently been reopened after being closed to the public for 15 years. When he first got there, he quickly spotted numerous large fish, thinking they were probably just large Asian carp. He returned the next day with snacks to tempt the fish onto his hook – and he succeeded. After a short battle, he reeled in his prized catch, but something was different, and it was no ordinary fish. He could see that it had human like teeth; so he snapped a few photos and quickly released it, because he thought it might be an endangered species. He caught the Pacu using a vanilla wafer, and the fish weighed 9 pounds, and was 21 inches long. 


    Shortly after catching the fish, he contacted the DWR to report what he caught. The DWR informed him that he had hooked a pacu – a species related to the piranha. Pacu, unlike piranha, have straight-edged, humanlike teeth and can grow very large in size.


    So how did a Pacu end up in St. George, Utah? The Boiler pond has historically been known as a dumping area for people’s aquarium fish. And since The Boiler has a warm-water spring that flows into it, the exotic fish thrive in the pond.




    Mark Magnera holds the pacu fish he hooked at the Warm Springs, also known as “the Boilers,” Washington City, Utah, June 13, 2015 | Photo courtesy Mark Magnera, St. George News