Fishing can be an unpredictable sport. Is there really anything you can do to guarantee a successful catch? Anglers have all sorts of quirky rituals and traditions they follow to try to tip the odds in their favor. Let’s dive into some of the strangest fishing superstitions that fishermen swear by.
Bananas on Board
One of the most widespread fishing superstitions is that having bananas on a boat will bring terrible luck. Numerous charter captains and experienced anglers stand by this belief.
Where did this superstition originate? There are a few theories:
- Bananas spoil quickly, attract bugs, and can make the boat slippery and dangerous.
- Boats carrying bananas as cargo (aka “banana boats”) historically had more accidents, sparking the superstition.
- The evil spirits or gods of the sea get angry at the presence of bananas.
Whatever the cause, many fishermen even today will refuse to let bananas board their vessel. Don’t even think about bringing a banana boat smoothie!
The First Cast Curse
Legend says that catching a fish on the very first cast of the day will curse the rest of your fishing trip with bad luck. If you hook a fish right away, you may as well just call it quits because you won’t get any more bites.
Where did this ominous superstition come from? Seasoned fishermen will tell you that your first cast of the day rarely catches anything. It takes surveying the conditions and dialing in your approach first. So they likely invented this excuse for when amateur anglers don’t catch anything after the first lucky cast.
Whistling Up the Wind
Whistling while aboard a fishing boat is thought to be very unlucky by many anglers. The idea is that whistling will “whistle up the wind” and storms.
This superstition likely originated back when sailing ships relied on steady winds for smooth journeys. Whistling actually could have impacted communications between sailors and affected their maneuvers. That’s not very relevant on modern motorized fishing boats – but many still avoid whistling just to be safe!
Pineapples Bring Good Luck
Here’s a more positive superstition: pineapples are considered good luck on fishing boats across many cultures. Some captains even gift pineapples to first-time crew members before embarking.
What’s the deal behind this tropical fruit bringing fishermen good fortune?
- Pineapples symbolize warmth, hospitality, and welcome – important for a safe voyage.
- A pineapple’s spiky leaves resemble a fishing boat’s mast and sails.
- Pineapples were once considered exotic and associated with success.
However it originated, pineapples remain a popular good luck charm to have on deck.
Pre-Trip Whisky Ritual
In Scotland, a traditional ritual before setting sail is drinking a toast with whisky after packing all the rods, reels, and tackle. This whiskey send-off is considered a way to bless the upcoming fishing journey with good luck.
Some skeptics think this ritual really originated long ago as a clever excuse for Scottish fishermen to drink some whisky before their trip. Either way, sharing a wee dram of Scotch whisky before casting off is still practiced today.
More Quirky Superstitions
Beyond these well-known fishing superstitions, anglers have all kinds of other quirky beliefs about luck and jinxes. Here are some examples:
- Throwing back the first fish caught is good luck.
- Saying the word “fish” on board scares away fish, so avoid mentioning it!
- Don’t apply sunscreen, bug spray, or hand sanitizer on the boat because the smells transfer to fishing gear and repel fish.
- Wearing a lucky hat, shirt, or using the same “lucky” lure can help your fishing fortune.
- Having women on fishing boats is bad luck – an outdated and sexist superstition!
So if you notice a fisherman whistling with a pineapple in hand, wearing a ratty lucky shirt, and not saying the “F word,” you’ll understand they are just following some age-old angling superstitions!
Whether you believe in these maritime myths or not, they show how fishing has its own unique culture and traditions. Next time you set sail with an experienced angler, don’t be surprised if they gravely warn you about bananas or whistling. Just smile, go with the flow, and enjoy the wacky world of fishing folklore!
Common Fishing Superstitions
|Bananas on board
|Bananas spoil quickly, attract bugs, make boats slippery. Banana cargo boats had accidents. Gods hate bananas.
|First cast curse
|First cast rarely catches anything. Excuse for amateur anglers.
|Whistling up wind
|Could impact sailing ship communications and maneuvers.
|Pineapples = good luck
|Symbolize hospitality and safe journeys. Resemble sails.
|Bless journey with good luck. Excuse to drink whisky.
|Women on board
|Bad omens, bring storms. Disrupt male camaraderie. Sexist attitudes.
|Lucky hat or lure
|Feeling of controlling luck and uncertainty.
|No “fish” mention
|Scares away fish, started as way to stay quiet.
More Fishing Superstitions
- Throw back the first fish caught
- No hand sanitizer, sunscreen, bug spray on board – scents transfer and repel fish
- Never rename a boat – bad luck from sea gods, confuses vessel’s spirit
- Drink whisky after preparing rods and tackle
- No women on board – outdated sexist attitude
- Don’t whistle – whistling brings storms
Fishing has a rich culture full of unique superstitions meant to either improve luck or ward off bad fortune. Stranger beliefs include avoiding bananas and whistling, while other rituals like pineapples and lucky hats aim to attract good luck. While modern anglers may dismiss these maritime myths, they reveal the colorful traditions of fishing.