Chesapeake Outdoors ~ by C. D. Dollar

 Vol. 10, No. 17

April 25 - May 1, 2002

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Blame It on the Bananas

The outdoor world is fraught with superstition, and most hard-core hunters and fishermen make an offering of some sort or another. Examples include the lucky hat, that special feather adorning one’s hat on up-land bird hunts or setting out an odd number of decoys to get ducks to stool.

Putting together a piece on superstitions, the editors of Field & Stream included this anecdote about the reverence Cree Indians show for the geese they kill. They pull a few feathers from under the wing and rub them between their hands while repeating words of thanks. Then they tuck the feathers into the earth. “We think about where the geese came from and then put something back in gratitude so the geese will come again,” the Native Americans explain.

I’ve even heard tell of wealthy bill-fisherman, obviously with more cents than sense, tossing hundred dollar bills off the stern in some whacked-out bribe attempt to the fish gods during a painfully slow stretch of a big-money tournament.

I have my fair share of idiosyncrasies that I follow faithfully, including not predicting or celebrating any success until well after the day is done — or talking about the weather in glowing terms. I also follow the axiom that carrying a banana onboard is bad luck, although up until this past week, I didn’t follow it as strictly as I should. After you hear my tale of woe, you might pass it off as sour grapes. Your prerogative. But the curse of the banana is now more firmly entrenched in my psyche than ever.

We’ve all been through excruciatingly frustrating periods of no fishing action, and if you say that you haven’t, you’re either lying or haven’t left the dock enough. In my experience, during these periods of skunkdom, it’s more that I can’t find the fish rather than I can’t get them to bite.

Last Sunday, I took a nice man and his 10-year-old daughter fishing on the Susquehanna Flats. She had never seen a live rockfish and he was trying to catch his first bruiser, a fish better than 20 pounds, on a fly rod. Conditions were ideal: overcast, slight breeze, moving tide. The early bite was on, but despite numerous boils, follows and blow-ups (where the fish attacks the top-water lure but does not get hooked), we left the area oh-fer. Nada. Zip.

Not to worry, I said reassuringly, the afternoon bite would salvage the day. Sure enough, the action heated up, this time in water less than three feet deep. You could see them cruising the flats for herring and shad. We tossed poppers — both fly and conventional — until our arms were rubber. But it was the same story: much interest in our offerings but no commitment.

It was late in the day. The wind picked up, and the little girl had long since retreated to the Spartan comfort of the console seat. I turned to my guest in a final desperate act to explain why I had been so snake bitten.

You didn’t happen to have bananas for lunch, did you? I asked gently. His face grimaced, revealing the answer. It was clear he knew of the bad mojo associated with that vile fruit. I left it at that, saying that sometimes it’s your turn to take a bite of the proverbial stink sandwich.

Coincidence? Possibly — but here is the rub. The day before, as we prepared to leave the marina, my client was eating a banana. I asked him to leave the remainder at the dock. We had a good day, including two fish over 18 pounds.

That’s all the proof I need.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly