Fishing Superstitions

Fishermen are a superstitious bunch. Don't agree? In what other endeavor do the participants talk more about luck—good or bad?

Undoubtedly, the most prevalent superstition is that bananas on a fishing boat are bad luck. Some fishermen even ban banana-flavored foods, and banana-logoed clothing and sunscreen, from their boats.

Where this belief originated is a matter of discussion. One story is that bananas were deemed bad luck because the whole crew of an old sailing ship fell ill after eating bad bananas. Another is that bananas often made up the large part of floating debris found after a ship sinking. Either way, the superstition has carried over into sportfishing. So, don't be surprised when the captain demands you get rid of the banana in your lunch cooler before setting foot on the boat.

That brings up another superstition: It's considered bad luck to step onto a boat with your left foot. I don't know where this one came from, but admit that I take it seriously.

A number of "first-fish" superstitions exist as well. Many anglers release the first catch of the day, no matter what, to ensure good luck for the rest of the trip. Others simply kiss the first fish to bring good luck.

My personal first-fish superstition is more ominous: A fishing trip is doomed if anyone in the party catches a quality fish on the day's first cast, or drop of the bait.

I've seen it happen too many times, including my most recent trip. While waiting for our friend to arrive, my son Gus cast a jig-and-Gulp minnow from the dock and caught this 37.5-inch pike. It was the only action the three of us saw in nine hours of fishing that day.

Do you believe in signs that portend "good" or "bad" fishing luck? Join the discussion here, and let me know.

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