Is it true that if you bring bananas on a boat fishing it will ruin the chance of catching fish?

Hi Mr. Chew,

Through the years I have heard numerous things about bananas on boats. Having fished many times with clients having bananas on the boat, we had awesome fishing days.

Here’s a list of superstitions about bananas on a boat that I have read or heard over the years. Most dating back to before the 17th and 18th century when crossing the Atlantic was a very dangerous endeavor. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. When bananas get ripe, they release a measurable amount of ethylene gas. The ethylene gas acts as anesthetic agent, and also causes other fruits and vegetables to ripen faster. Because of these long trips, the presence of bananas on boats could actually ruin the entire food supply, causing the crew to starve. When a banana ferments it releases methane gas that could potentially kill a crew member, if that member was below deck for a long period of time.
  2. Spiders, snakes, and other poisonous varmints living among and in the bananas carried onto the ship and stored on long haul trips, expand through the ship by infesting food in other parts of the ship.
  3. The fastest sailing ships were used by the owners to get bananas to their destinations so they would not spoil. Those trying to fish from these ships never caught anything while trolling, probably because they were moving too fast.
  4. Fisherman became ill after eating the fruit.
  5. The ships back then were top-heavy. In that era many would sink, and the only thing found floating was the bananas. So everyone concluded the fruit itself had led to these sinking ships.
  6. Many fruits would spoil quickly when bananas were being shipped along with them, causing folks to deem bananas “bad luck.”
  7. Fisherman and crew would get injured by slipping on discarded banana peels.
  8. Fisherman and crew missed many fish due to a case of “the runs” caused by bananas they ingested.
  9. Anglers in Hawaii would embark upon lengthy fishing trips in dugout canoes provisioned with bananas. The few fish caught made them mistake correlation for causation.
  10. Oils from bananas can rub off on your hand and scare away the fish.

Bananas on the Boat

There are many more but these were the main ones that I documented and heard over many years.

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Captain David M. Rieumont


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