… And Other Fishing Superstitions!
Did you ever wonder why there are no bananas in the fruit bowl at Redfish Lodge. It has nothing to do with budgets, bugs, or allergies..it is far more serious that that. Bananas have long been considered the ultimate curse for a fishing vessel. Since the ancient Polynesians first started fishing the oceans, it was noticed that vessels that headed out on long journeys and brought bunches of bananas for nourishment often did not return. It seems logical, bananas last a long time even in the heat, they are not heavy or bulky, and they are very good for you. Why, then, was the fate of so many fishing vessels sealed when they loaded up the bananas? Now in the days of science and enlightenment, we do have an answer. Journeys of several weeks or more allowed the thousands of banana spider eggs located in the banana bunches to hatch, and when the fishermen went to bed, they really went to bed. The highly poisonous banana spiders bit them and the ship with the dead crew was lost at sea forever. In the modern era of pesticides, cell phones, and GPS navigation, it is unlikely to say the least that these events will transpire again, but once a superstition is born it will not go away easily. For this reason, bananas are best left in the supermarket. Serious fishermen and guides alike have removed them from their diets altogether. Excessive? Maybe, but you do not want to provoke the ire of the fish gods!
In Europe since the dawn of the domesticated animal, it has been considered a bad omen to begin a fishing trip when the cattle in the fields are lying down. Conversely, it is considered lucky if they are standing. As ridiculous as this may seem, again with a little applied modern science we find that it is rooted in truth. Most all animals, with the exception of humans, plan their day around a lunar clock rather than a solar one. Their active and inactive periods are defined by the position of the moon rather than that of the sun. The sun is merely a convenience for those of us not blessed with the ability to see in the dark. This means that birds, deer, cows, and fish have the same activity periods during the lunar day. A cow lying down really does mean that the fishing will not be as good as if it was standing! Why, you ask, does superstition not hold true to hunting in European culture. The answer lies in the method of hunting used in most European nations. They do not sit in a blind and wait for an active animal to come to them. They send pushers into the woods to beat the trees with sticks and force even sleeping animals to move. While a fish has to be a willing participant in fishing, stag, pheasants, boar, and other game can be coerced into participating whether their schedule suggests it or not.
Want to avoid some other errors in judgement that may turn the fish gods against you? Superstition suggests that you never step over a fishing rod lying on the ground or on the deck of the boat. An easy way to avoid this is to never put a rod there. It is an invitation for it to be broken, and having a rod broken is a sure way not to catch fish. Never board or even cross a fishing vessel until you are invited to do so by the captain. Why? Not only does superstition suggest it, but it is just rude. In ancient times when this practice began, guides probably took these rude people to bad fishing holes, making the fishing poor and bringing about the lore. Never catch a fish on the first cast of the day. Hard to find the science in this one, but better to cast in the wrong direction and reel fast so as not to take any chances.
While this list is nearly endless, there are a few of the more important ones to remember. The good news is there is a fool-proof cure for any curse you may place on yourself, your boat, or the fish. A pineapple, be it fresh, canned, dried, or squeezed into juice will always win the favor of the fish gods. If you are in real trouble, putting a small portion of your pineapple product into the water as a sacrifice will surely bail you out. Science? Sure, fish love…the…smell…of pineapple? Yeah, that’s it! Just make sure that if you bring dried pineapple in a trail mix that there is no dried bananas in there. We don’t want to open that can of worms … ah spiders again.