Superstitious anglers believe that bringing bananas on a boat jinxes the fishing and creates bad luck to everyone aboard.

No Bananas Onboard, Please

Just the other day, a fellow charter boat captain shared this banana tale of woe. He was half way through a fishless trip when the smell of wires burning filled the cabin. So it seems the switch that controls the water which flushes the head stuck; causing the pump to run continuously and the wires to overheat and smolder. Once the emergency had past, a further investigation revealed a banana peel in the garbage can. The outing continued to spiral downward when two sailfish were lost and later a Mahi-Mahi was eaten by a bull shark as it was being landed. One has to wonder; was the banana onboard just a coincidence or more evidence to fuel the notion of the banana jinx? The Captain believed the banana was the bugaboo.

A few weeks later, the tip of a very expensive fly rod was broken after being stepped on as brother in-laws prepared to board their boat. At the end of the fishless trip, the only thing to be found in the in the otherwise empty fish box was a bunch of uneaten bananas.

While there is no scientific evidence to support the banana theory, a growing number charter boat captains are taking the matter seriously. Some have posted signs that read: Banana Free Boat – No Bananas Allowed – Bananas Are Bad Luck/Please Leave Them on Shore. Others go a step further, forbidding products like Banana Boat Sunscreen, banana flavored lip cream, banana chips, banana bread and banana muffins.

It gets worse, clients have been asked to remove garments purchased from The Banana Republic or anything with the words or images of bananas printed on them. A few captains are so bananaphobic, that they require clients to remove underwear if it carries the Fruit of the Loom label. That might be going too far since the logo on the label depicts an apple, grapes and leaves, but no bananas.

Banana extremists question boarding fishermen about what they had to eat and drink in the past twenty- four hours. If they answer fried plantains, sliced bananas on cereal, banana pudding or banana daiquiris they are turned away. And finally how about this for extreme juju; there is a guy that had to have his banana tattoo removed from his forearm before he could get his Charter Boat Captain’s License.

Stories of bananas bringing bad luck can be traced back to the 1700’s, when sailing ships carrying bananas hurried to deliver their cargo before it spoiled. The ships moved so quickly that crew members trolling for fish off the stern seldom caught anything. A more passable answer is that unlike the scents of garlic, worms and shrimp, all of which attract fish, the smell of bananas wards them away. And since most fishermen don’t wash their hands after eating bananas or anything else, the banana oil rubs off and on to the bait as it is hooked.

Lastly, boats participating in a sailfish tournament reported thousands of bananas floating in the fishing grounds. You guessed it! No sailfish were caught that day.

So it’s no wonder the theme song of bananaphobic charter boat captains is “YES WE HAVE NO BANANAS.”


Borrowed from Capt. Gus Gustafson.