Will has been a serious fisherman for about five years, and hasn’t missed a season since he started.  Being a fisherman he has learned many superstitions that he follows while out on a fishing boat.  The superstitions stem from professional fisherman who go out for weeks on end and follow these rituals because they believe it will help bring them home safely.  Will isn’t sure where these superstitions originated from but knows all fishers not only strictly follow them, but truly believe they will bring them good luck.  The first superstition Will follows is that he never brings a banana on the boat.  The second is that you always let the first catch of the season go, no matter how big it is or how long it takes you to reel it in.  Will tells me that if you follow these fishing rituals you will always get home safely and probably catch a nice sized fish.

This is not the first time that I have heard these two superstitions before.  Although Will did not know why bringing a banana on a boat was bad luck we can see in other sources, such as Living the Fishing, that this superstition is actually very common.  The idea behind not bringing a banana comes from two popular myths.  The first one is that fish can smell the oil a banana leaves on your fingertips and this scares them away from the bait.  This actually has some truth to it as any scent on the bait or line will scare the fish away.  The second meaning dates back to the days of old wooden transatlantic boats that would stop at tropical islands for food.  One of the foods they would pick up would be crates of bananas, which were always enjoyed by the crew.  The problem was the crates would contain spiders, snakes, bugs, and rodents.  As these critters began to multiply and make their way to the captain’s quarter, he would tell the crews to never bring bananas on board.  Although this reason for banning bananas from a boat is long outdated it has stayed alive by the fisherman who passed down their fishing rituals from one generation to the next.

The second myth about letting the first fish free is very common.  If you throw back your first catch you will be lucky the whole season.  I think this superstition is relating to the idea of respecting the fish and the environment you are in.  It shows that you are not greedy and that you know the fish in sea are plentiful.  These two superstitions are not to be joked about on a fishing boat, and all fisherman take them very seriously.

Thompson, Paul, and Trevor Lummis. Living the Fishing. Routledge, 1983. 184-200.