Very Superfishtious . . .

Posted by in Blog on Sep 2, 2012

No bananas on the boat.

It’s the most famous of all the fishing superstitions, right?

Story after story has been told about guides who, in the midst of a bunch of great fishing days, suddenly go cold. After investigating the cooler, it’s determined that a client surreptitiously boarded the vessel with a banana or two in the lunch provisions. In each and every case, this draws the captain’s ire, whereupon the offender and his fruit are made to perform a series of gyrations, generally consisting of either:

a) Donating the bananas to Neptune. Depending on the client, this can be accompanied by silly dances, chants, or other ritual to purify the vessel, allowing for the bite to turn back on.

b) Making the client return to shore to place the bananas back in their vehicle, or some other land based receptacle (a trash bin, perhaps). This practice works under the theory that the sea gods have no use for bananas, and any sign of them on the vessel is a bad idea.

There are some captains who take this to the extreme, forbidding banana boat sunscreen onboard, or customers wearing fruit of the loom underwear (I’ve never understood this, as fruit of the loom has no banana in its logo, but I digress).

I’ve personally never struggled with banana-induced fishing maladies . . . this could be because I’ve never been on a streak hot enough to notice the difference that the bananas were causing . . . or maybe nobody’s ever brought bananas on board . . . I’ve never been a huge fan of bananas, anyway, so maybe it’s been something I’ve just not paid enough attention to.

But all this talk of bananas got me thinking about other fishing rules that are funny, strange, or ridiculous . . . here are a few off the top of my head.

  • I talked with a captain one time who mentioned he hates when a client asks, “What are we fishing for here?” He swears it’s the kiss of death for a spot. If you answer with what you hope to catch, you’re guaranteeing no chance that your quarry comes in the boat.
  • Never leave fish to find fish. I’ve had plenty of days where this never came into play (meaning, you have to have fish in the first place), but it’s still a hard, fast rule. You’re sitting on a favorite flat catching redfish and trout, but they’re all so small that you begin to imagine you’ve simply made the mistake of settling . . . these 16″ reds and 14″ trout are fine for the kids, but you want to find some man-sized fish. The rest of your day is spent poling across flats that are barren enough to have “desert” in their name. You beat your rotator cuff to a pulp flailing every lure and bait you can think of at every shadow and ripple. You almost die of dehydration because you can’t stop long enough to take a sip of water. You ending up boating a lizardfish and two catfish. Then, looking to salvage the day, you return to the spot where you started, the sure thing, the guarantee. Usually, this assures you will get a bite on the first cast or two, and then nothing for the next hour while you commiserate with your fishing companions about how “that’s rule #1, never leave fish to find fish.”
  • The quality of the fishing around you is directly proportionate to any crisis happening on board your vessel. This rule has never failed me. If there is a crisis of any sort, fish materialize out of thin air (water?) Examples? My partner in the tournament sticks a hook through the webbing between his thumb and forefinger – while I work on extracting it, we spook a school of tailing redfish, the first reds we’ve seen in two days. Or the time a kid on board sticks a zara spook into his dad’s head – while working to extract it, tarpon begin to mill around our boat. Motor stops working, snook start popping. Fly-line wrapped around the prop? Redfish tails start waving. Do not tempt this rule. It. Never. Fails.
  • Wind out of the west, fish bite best; wind out of the east, fish bite least. I’m not too sure about this one, but my dad has always been somebody that quotes it. I think this is partially because, growing up fishing the west coast of Florida, the wind shifts and comes off the land during the night (out of the east). Therefore, when I woke him up at 5:30 to get after the fish, he could quote this rule as a reason we would actually be wasting our time. Please note, I can only attest to this rule failing with regards to the land breeze/sea breeze phenomenon in Florida . . . not sure if there is truth to it with regards to actual wind

I think that’s a good start . . . do any of you have any funny fishing superstitions we should know about?


  1. Sep 5, 2012

    I do recall a fishing trip with you when the banana rule came in effect. The guy was struggling to catch fish while the other guy was catching them on both sides of the boat> After it was discovered that he had bananas on the boat and we went through the ritual of getting rid of the bananas he was able to finish the day with some decent catches.

    • Sep 9, 2012

      I’m not sure I remember that trip, Bobby – was that the night with Steve where he couldn’t catch a snook to save his life, while everyone else in the boat were slaying them?

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