Man reels in an unusual catch from lake in Arkansas

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. — A fisherman in Arkansas snagged a fish that was a long way from where it usually lives.

Roger Headley has been fishing in Lake Bentonville for a few months and said he’s always had pretty good luck.

At first he started catching trout and catfish, but what he caught next shocked him.

Friday morning Headley got an unusually strong bite.

“My second throw out there I had a real good strong hit so I set the hook,” Headley said.

But when he went to claim his catch — he met a mouthful of teeth.

“When I went to take the hook out, he opened up his mouth and tried to bite me,” he said. “Well I about messed my pants.”

Roger had caught a pirañha, a fish native to the Amazon River — nearly 4,000 miles away.

“All my friends are laughing about it, trying to tell me that isn’t what I caught,” Headley said.

Jon Stein with the Arkansas Game and Fish said Headley had a pirañha on the line and somebody put it there.

“Somebody released it, had it as a pet, in their fish tank and it got too big or they just didn’t want it anymore and they released it into Lake Bentonville,” Stein said.

Stein said this isn’t the first pirañha caught in Arkansas and dumping unwanted pet fish is illegal.

“It’s illegal to stock state waters with any type of fish,” Stein said.  “We have a pretty big problem in the United States with aquatic nuisance species. It can do a lot more harm than good.”

So are there anymore in the lake? Stein said it’s hard to say but most die fairly quickly once released.

He said they’ve actually had stranger finds.

“You really never know what you’re going to find in a lake,” Stein said. “I think it was several years ago we found a octopus in Lake Conway.”

As for Headley, he’s just glad it was him at the other end of the reel.