Who needs ‘Old Wives Tales’ when you’ve got ‘Old Fisherman’s Tales.’ The Superstition of Bananas aboard Sportfishing vessels actually began as folklore among Mariners. Having nothing to do with the successes or failures of Trolling for dinner, Snopes got it wrong. The Snopes (by all accounts a great online publishing space, #FightForFacts) article, like so many others written on the topic, reached inaccurate conclusions.
They surmised, in part, that bananas became bad luck and thus created a superstition among Anglers because bananas spoil so quickly. Due to the hasty maturation of the harvested fruit ships had to travel at much faster speeds to deliver the perishable cargo. These additional Knots (i.e. nautical speeds) thereby impacted the success of crewmembers normally triumphant in their ‘Trolling’ pursuits while in transit. They were now dragging lures too quickly for pelagic fish to take the bait. Thus, bananas = bad luck and the superstition born. This narrative overlooks a few very important points.
- Number one (1): Wooden ships from the 18th century (1701-1800) had average speeds of 4 To 5 knots. Even if you double that average speed to 9 knots (6 to 12 being an optimal range), this would still be a perfect pace to catch Mahi, Tuna, and a whole host of other pelagic predators that swim the seas now and at the time.
- Number two (2): Although fishing and fishing hooks proper have a history dating back 40,000+ thousand years, there is no known record of Anglers using Trolling techniques or Trolling-style lures dating back any further than the past 100 years (not using planer boards or flat-lining). No written record of trolling spoons, or plugs (made from wood), or meat rigs (a cross-technique of using both artificial and bait fish) either.
- Number three (3): Even if our seafaring/sea fearing ancestors would have been flat-lining barbed hooks with live bait attached their efforts would have produced less than palatable and certainly not auspicious results. The speed of the ship combined with the buoyancy of the baitfish would have meant their lures dragging across the top of the waves instead of within the ideal pelagic zone of the upper water column.
After taking into consideration both historical context and factual fishing technique timelines what’s more realistic is that our good Deckhands turned Fishermen were ‘Trawling’ and not ‘Trolling.’ What’s the diff you ask? A big one. Trawling, a netting technique dates back to at least the 1300s and uses no fishing tackle at all [https://news.mongabay.com/2014/05/trawling-destructive-fishing-method-is-turning-seafloors-to-deserts/ Trawling could have very well produced sea fare at 4 knots. Any faster however, as in when bananas are aboard, and pressure waves build up in front of the net causing the game you’re targeting to move out and away from the net.
It’s just as likely that the superstition of bananas being bad luck on a boat had little to nothing to do with fishing at all. Bunches of bananas (if you haven’t seen them, look like a yellow, upside down spruce tree), found in tropical climates, are well known for harboring all sorts of disease carrying murids and venomous arachnids. This, in addition to a myriad of insects, and hosts of bat species. These rabid chiropterans, perilous rodents and treacherous spiders, coming out of the proverbial woodwork, would have been sure to elicit pejorative folklore.
As for my comrades in the business of manufacturing fishing lures I conclude the following. You’ll never convince a superstitious charter boat captain or dogmatic freelance Angler that bananas aren’t bad luck, so don’t try. Old Anglers’ Tales run deep. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend naming your company ‘Bananas,’ or anything remotely sounding like banana, or anything remotely related to bananas. For God’s sake, definitely don’t write a fishing article about bananas, lol. Feel free to embrace the absurdity, but don’t make it into a YouTube channel, Brand logo, or Company motto anytime soon.
Happy fish and Tight lines. Welcome to the Evolution,
Article written by Fish Mitts Mike
Cream Cheese Banana Bread
This banana bread may be the only exception for having bananas on the boat. I know, we are technically bending the no banana rule here. However, we all need a sweet treat every now and then.
What ingredients do I need?
- 3 very ripe bananas
- 1 egg
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
Cream Cheese Filling:
- 1 egg
- 8 ounces of cream cheese
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil a loaf pan.
- In a bowl mix the egg, sugars, oil, sour cream, and vanilla.
- In another bowl mix the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together. Now add your wet mix to the dry mix. Do not over mix.
- Pour half of the banana mix into the loaf pan.
- In another bowl mix the egg, softened cream cheese, sugar, and flour together.
- Pour the cream cheese mix over the banana mix in the loaf pan.
- Add the second half of the banana mix on top of the cream cheese mix.
- Now use a knife and zig zag through the loaf pan. This helps move the cream cheese mix around so that it marbles some through the loaf.
- Bake for 50 minutes or until the batter is no longer runny.
We like to keep our banana bread in the fridge. I know many people love warm banana bread but with the cream cheese this is very rich and I think it is better cold with warm butter on top.
Bountiful harvests and happy cooking,
Recipe prepared by Jennifer Leigh