Local fisherman reels in an unusual fish from Tellico Lake

TELLICO LAKE (WATE) -- A Monroe County fisherman reeled in an unusual fish on Tellico Lake over the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Allen Carlson says he was hoping to catch some bluegill. Instead he got a lot more than he was fishing for when he caught a red-bellied piranha.

"I thought it was a bluegill when I first caught it until we saw it had teeth, and we know bluegill don't have teeth," said Carlson.

Carlson has been casting a line for decades, but he says he has never snagged something so bizarre for this part of the country.

"It freaked me out. I never dreamed there would be a piranha on Tellico Lake," he says.

Carlson says he knows it's a piranha after pulling pictures off of the Internet and comparing.

"I brought them down here to the dock and held them side by side and I said yes, it is definitely a piranha," says Carlson.

If his suspicions are right, the red-bellied piranha has a reputation for being one of the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world, boasting a razor sharp set of teeth.

"It is a rare catch, something I will never catch again," adds Carlson.

The fisherman is concerned there could be more of the species swimming around Tellico Lake.

"They could take over and kill off the native fish," says Carlson.

After he shows us off his big catch, Carlson plans to stuff it and mount it on his wall.

It will no doubt be a fish tale he'll be hooked on telling for years to come.

Carlson plans to call the TWRA on Tuesday and alert them to his catch.

Meanwhile, 6 News spoke with a TWRA agent who says they are anxious to speak with the fisherman.

The agent also said the survival of a red-bellied piranha is unlikely in Tennessee.  The only way it is being possible now is because it is the summer season, but it will not survive long.

More than likely, it was a pet that was released.

It is not illegal to own a piranha, but it is illegal to release an exotic animal into the wild.