Some fishermen are strong enough to admit they have certain superstitions they follow to ensure a successful and safe angling experience while others are in denial. I fall into the first category with a list of does and don’ts that I follow religiously.
This is the first rule of the sea; no bananas! Not on the boat, not in the beach buggy and not even for breakfast on the morning of a fishing trip.
Bananas will bring bad luck and while I know of a few folks who dispute this fact even going so far as to brag about having bananas on the boat when fish were caught, they are only waving a red flag in front of a bull. Sooner or later the fish gods will take note of this blaspheme and render just punishment.
I have personal knowledge of several fishing excursions that were ruined because someone in the party had a banana with them. I was on a sea bass trip to an inshore wreck where everyone on board was banging fish with the exception of one poor guy. He could not buy a bass and finally took a break to eat his lunch. Yep, you guessed it; he had a banana in his cooler and when the other anglers pointed out his grave error he refused to believe this long yellow fruit could be the cause of his distress.
I grabbed the banana and tossed it overboard where it promptly attracted a small cobia. The fish didn’t eat the fruit; he just bumped it with his nose and swam away leaving all hands speechless. After the offending item was disposed of the luckless fellow did manage to catch a few sea bass, however since he still refused to believe in the evil power of the banana, the size and number of fish he caught suffered noticeably.
I have covered tournaments where crews expended a good deal of energy in an effort to hide a banana on the competition’s boat. These efforts were usually carried out under the cover of darkness after the local watering holes had closed. Considering the condition of the participants at that point in time, the ingenuity demonstrated in hiding the bananas was quite extraordinary.
The forces of nature and the gremlins that dwell inside all things mechanical are just waiting for the foolish human to become so confident that nothing can possibly go wrong when he brags about his impervious situation. Start extolling the virtues of your engine while running 60 miles off the beach and you will soon be on the VHF begging for a tow.
Return to the dock with a box full of fish or twenty flags flying from the outriggers and instead of humbly accepting the congratulations of your fellow anglers, loudly brag that you are the best fisherman on the dock and all others pale before your legendary accomplishments. Retribution for this onerous sin may be a long time coming, but when it does, the humiliation is epic.
Back when I ran charters out of Virginia Beach, we had a young buck on the dock who caught a 60-pound cobia on his first trip. He came back in holding the big fish up for all to see and proceeded to tell anyone in ear shot that he was beyond a doubt the greatest cobia fisherman in the known universe. He made eight or more trips without so much as a cobia sighting before quietly going back to croaker fishing.
I have a certain ritual that must be carried out before any fishing trip. I shower the night before using Brute deodorant and aftershave. I have certain shirts and shorts that must be worn in the summer and blue jeans and chamois shirts that are worn in the winter. I have two fishing hats. A wide brim for summer and a Stren yellow stocking cap in winter. All of my fishing clothes show signs of extreme wear and receive uncomplimentary comments from my wife, but the people I fish with understand because their clothing is in the same condition.
It is a rare event when I must toss away a lucky piece of clothing. Stains and small tears are signs of success and worn with great pride. Faded colors indicate long exposure to salt and sun. So long as shirts can be buttoned and pants or shorts don’t have a broken zipper or tears that might expose something embarrassing, those articles of clothing remain in use.
You are what you eat. I always take peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on fishing trips. I used to carry Tastycake pies before they became off limits due to my diabetes. I still sneak one onboard during special trips or when I am trying to break a run of bad luck.
After every trip I review the things I have taken, worn or done that may have determined the outcome. When the trip is successful I will repeat everything. When unsuccessful I will do my best to uncover the culprit and eliminate it from my next excursion. The fact that certain things may fall into both categories is of no consequence.
I am well aware that some of you will disregard all superstitions as nothing more than silly and childish beliefs that have no scientific basis. I say unto you of little faith, do not provoke the forces for which you have little understanding, or be prepared to suffer the consequences.