Fishing Lore – United States

Fishing Lore- United States

“When going out tuna fishing, you must eat the heart of the first catch of the day.”

Peter said he first heard this when he went deep sea fishing from his friend Michael Chang. It was the winter of 2006, and they were out fishing for rock fish. It was not in season for tuna yet but they were talking about going tuna fishing in the summer in Mexico. Mike asked him if he had ever gone tuna fishing and Peter said that he hasn’t. Well, Mike told him that when they go, the first tuna you catch, you have to eat the beating heart of tuna (raw). The guys fishing next to him, agreed with Mike and told him that he had to eat it. Peter said he didn’t really know why he had to eat the heart. He assumed it was either for good luck or by consuming the heart; he was part of the sea. He just assumed that it was a fisherman’s lore and part of the seaman’s law.

I actually heard this with Peter. I was there actually fishing with Peter and Mike; when Mike told us that we would have to eat the heart. I’ve never heard this before until Mike told us about it. I had forgotten about this “law”/ “lore” until Peter mentioned it again when I was grilling him for some folklore. I also just assumed that it was for good luck or to show your manliness. Tuna fishing has a manly bravado attached to it and to show your manliness, I figured, you would have to eat the heart. I think it is kind of a right of passage in the fishing world. My dad fishes a lot and I know he has gone out a couple of times to go tuna fishing. I have never heard my dad telling me you have to eat the heart. So I’m not sure whether this has any truth to it or not. However, the fishermen around us all seem to agree with Mike.

Talking to Eric [1] about this, he said that he hasn’t heard this before but he has heard sometime similar. He said that you are supposed to eat the heart of the first tuna you ever catch. So it is kind of like a right to passage of being a fisherman. Many people can say that they have gone fishing but not many can say they have caught a tuna and ate its heart. So he thinks it is a right of passage to manhood and fisherman.

Also looking around the internet, I found a lot of video clips of people, not surprisingly teenagers, eating the heart of a tuna. One clip I found was titled, “My first right of passage in catching my first tuna fish” [2]. So I believe it is considered to many a right of passage.


1)      Henry, Eric. Male, 21 years old. Student, University of Southern California.

2)      “My first right of passage in catching my first tuna fish”. YouTube. 8 Oct 2007.  <> 2 April 2008.

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