Keep those bananas out of your boat

June 25, 2011 

Anglers are a superstitious bunch, probably because we're always looking for explanations for our misfortunes on the water, and some superstitions are a bit more bizarre than others.

Believe it or not, some fishermen swear that bananas are bad luck. Many have gone so far as to screen fish mates prior to departure and cancel trips on account of the forbidden fruit.

Strange as it sounds, like most superstitions, this one has a history.

In the early days of trading ships and transatlantic crossings, many hazards were encountered. Having to cope with a wooden sailing vessel is a tough enough task, not to mention pirates, disease, unforeseen storms and mutiny. Being a seaboard merchant in the 17th century was a risky endeavor at best. What the captain needed most was control over those things he could manipulate, one of which being cargo.

Often stopping at tropical islands for provisions, many of the crew and passengers would purchase crates of bananas. The very nature of the fruit, as well as the packaging, welcomed a swarm of critters. These new passengers -- snakes, insects, spiders and rats -- would often escape to the lower decks, where they remained undetected until their presence became known in other parts of the ship, one of which was the captain's quarters.

To prevent this, some tried the enforcement of a bogus law, and a few captains spread rumors of plague, island fever or poisonings. Finally, it is believed in the 18th century an adventuresome captain spread a rumor that bananas brought on myriad diseases and bad luck, and all banana cargo was banned.

Superstitions were not taken lightly then, and for many fishermen, they still aren't.

TWO STATE RECORDS CAUGHT

A pair of state-record fish were landed earlier this month -- one by a Beaufort man -- according to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

Ors Holmquist of Beaufort brought in a scamp weighing 26 pounds, 15 ounces, on June 14, breaking the previous mark set in 2007 by Edward Lowe of Maryland. Fishing aboard "No Worries" with captain and owner Mike Sackman, the team left Port Royal Sound for an area 45 miles offshore. The new state record was hooked in 130 feet of water and was weighed in at Port Royal Landing Marina. The prize catch was held until the next day to be weighed and certified by SCDNR biologist and weigh-master Lindsay Roberg.

One day later, on June 15, 12-year-old Hunter Woodbury of Lake City hauled in a queen triggerfish weighing 9 pounds, 7 ounces, which outweighed Marc Heiden of Florence's 5-year-old record by 1.88 ounces but fell short of the four ounces required to dethrone a historic record. Woodbury brought in the record triggerfish while fishing on "First Choice," owned and captained by his father, Tony Woodbury. The fish was weighed at the end of the day at the local IGA grocery by weigh-master Tommy Jean Floyd of Lake City and certified the following day by DNR biologist Kris Reynolds.

Both state records were verified June 16 by Amy Dukes, DNR's state record marine game fish program coordinator.

NEW CATCH LIMITS APPROVED

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council recently approved a new recreational limit for black sea bass. The new regulations reduce the recreational limit for black sea bass from 15 fish per person to five fish per person and became effective June 22.

WEATHER HOT, FISHING NOT

Hot, humid and unbearable have been words shared among area anglers. Early morning and evening excursions offer little relief. When water temperatures hit the 80s, things turned off. Offshore, things are challenging as well, but the ride keeps a bit of wind in your face. The best news is the arrival of tarpon in the Broad River, bringing the newest quest for anglers.

The best tip for locating tarpon is to watch for surface breaks of mullet. Also, birds on the water signal baitfish, and in waters with large feeder creeks this usually is a signal for menhaden, one of the tarpon's most targeted meals. For now, the outgoing tide is marked as the choice time, but take any opportunity to get out and you might be pleasantly surprised.

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