Years ago when I was setting up a marlin trip out of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, my guide warned, “And NO bananas!” I wanted to laugh at his apparent fruit issues but from his tone over the phone, I knew better.
Many people may start the day with a banana, like professional angler Laura Heflin, but bananas never make it to the boat. Why you ask? Some believe bananas on boats are bad luck. Though not intentionally superstitious, as an angler, some things are verboten and just not worth messing with.
Fellow former ESPNOutdoors.com columnist James A. Swan provided some history on why bananas and boats do not mix in a piece titled “Bananas, Rabbits’ Feet, and Beginners Luck.” He wrote that even back in the 1700s, bananas on boats had a bad rap. Large bunches might harbor poisonous spiders and bananas spoil quickly, giving off a potentially hazardous methane. Because this predated “No Smoking” signs, it was generally frowned upon to have an explosive gas building up in the hull of your ship.
Bananas and I have always had a bit of a love-hate relationship. Most of this is due to the fact that there is only about a seven-minute window of time when a banana is most delectable. Before those seven minutes, it is too green to eat; after, it is black, mushy, and ready for the compost heap. No matter how many bananas I purchase for the family, two are thrown away. And there is something just a little pompous about a fruit that thinks it deserves its own hanger.
Aboard my first and only marlin adventure, I was blatantly banana-less. Out of 40 charter boats, the striped marlin I hooked was one of only two caught that day. Even though I know it was just luck, and I’m sure none of the other 40 boats had bananas aboard, bananas have not been on my boat since.
Okay, so if boats and bananas are taboo, will I mess up the Mojo if the kids snack on a banana while shore fishing? Why chance it when an apple will do?
Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Oklahoma. Visit him at www.justkeepreeling.com.