Of all outdoorsmen, I guarantee fishermen are by far the most superstitious.
What brought this to mind? I'll have to credit a charter fisherman friend of mine, who will remain nameless, because he is convinced he has "lost his mojo" when it comes to catching fish, especially cobia.
I know it sounds silly but I have been in his shoes before and, believe me when I say, it really gets in your head that you are just plain bad luck. For me, it's somewhat tolerable, but for a charter fisherman who spends every day out there and relies on catching for his livelihood, this glitch can really take you down a notch or two.
The worst part of losing your mojo is that you begin to question every single thing. Such as, did someone hide a banana on my boat?
Fishermen take this seriously, very seriously.
If you have never heard that bananas are the kiss of death aboard a fishing boat, then I dare you to hop on any charter boat around these parts and let the captain catch a glimpse of one you brought for a snack. All I can tell you is you had better eat it fast, because even though you are a paying customer, every captain I know will reach right into your lunch sack and in the blink of an eye, throw that banana overboard. I am not quite as adamant as most but I too won't hesitate to pitch someone's banana overboard -- even if I have just met the person for the very first time. The last time I did it was about a month ago when I was invited to go with a gent who had just bought a new boat and wanted some help getting to know the local waters. To say he was shocked is an understatement. He had never heard that bananas were bad luck, so the first thing that went through his head was that I was some sort of weirdo and he was genuinely scared that I had some mental disorder.
Now where I have I heard that before? Oh yes, it was at the grocery store yesterday.
Actually, the banana superstition goes back to the 1700s when bananas became popular in the U.S. Sailboats were used to get bananas to the States from the Caribbean, and the captains would hoist all their sails so they could get as much speed as possible to get the fruit to their destination before they spoiled. For fishermen, who acted as crew on these boats, that extra speed made it impossible for them to troll for fish -- and thus the banana legend began. I know a couple of captains who won't let clients onboard with Banana Boat suntan lotion nor Banana Republic clothes. That seems a bit excessive to me, but to each his own.
Other than bananas, do I have any other mojo enhancers? Oh yes! I guess first and foremost is my "lucky" fishing hat. I have had many a lucky cap over the years and the only reason it isn't the same one is because they literally rot and fall apart. And I'm not someone who says, "don't worry about it," if my hat blows off while I am running offshore. No sir, you would think I had dropped a Rolex overboard when it happens. I insist on going back and I truly believe that success or failure during that day's outing is based on whether I get the hat before it sinks. When one of my beloved hats finally rots away, I may go through a dozen until I find "the one."
Some of my other quirky beliefs include my patented "fish dance" -- but not to just any music. If I had to pick just one performer who seems to draw fish it would have to be the godfather of soul himself, Mr. James Brown. Time and time again, James has made it happen when all else failed. In particular, his song "Get Up Offa That Thing" is one fish-catching, reel-screaming, make-you-want-to-slap-yo mamma song.
So, if you're planning on going fishing, I suggest leaving the bananas at home, put on your fishing cap and bring out the funk. Get up offa that thing and dance till you feel better, get up offa that thing and try to release that pressure ...
God does not subtract from the allotted span of a man's life the hours spent in fishing. Columnist Collins Doughtie, a graphic designer by trade and fishing guide by choice, sure hopes that's true.