Oklahoma girl catches rare, invasive fish

FORT COBB, Okla. - A young, Oklahoma girl has caught a rare, invasive species of fish typically found in South American waters.

According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the girl caught the Pacu fish over the weekend near the Marina Cove at Fort Cobb Lake.

"She was just fishing with a bobber and a worm just like so many kids do and pulls up this very unusual fish," said Information Supervisor Micah Holmes. "It’s very rare, fortunately. We want native fish in Oklahoma — not Pacu, or any other non-native fish like this one or an exotic fish."

Holmes said, while Pacu are typically found in South America, they are very popular to keep in aquariums. Its most distinctive feature are its human-like teeth.

The species can grow up to be more than 50 pounds.

"When they get too big, sometimes, people who have aquariums illegally dump those into the waters, so that’s how they get there, we’re assuming," Holmes said.

Larry Watson lives in Lookeba. He’s been fishing at Fort Cobb Lake since he was a teenager and said he’s only seen a Pacu on television.

He said sand-bass and black bass are more common in the waters.

Watson said the strangest things he’s caught were “a few snakes and turtles, but those aren’t out of the ordinary.”

Anglers who catch Pacu in Oklahoma are asked to remove them from the watershed and contact their local game warden. Homles said the invasive species can cause damage to local ecosystems.

"Anytime you introduce a fish that is not native to Oklahoma, those fish compete for the same resource that native fish compete for," he said. "So, if that fish is eating a plant or eating a snail, that’s one plant or snail that a native fish isn’t eating."

Oklahoma Game Wardens, which work with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, can be contacted at 405-521-3719.