One of these items is believed to bring good mojo, while the other bring bad vibes. Do you know which is which? COLLINS DOUGHTIE

Of all the outdoor pursuits, I guarantee fishermen are by far the most superstitious lot of them all. So, what brought this subject to mind? I’ll have to credit a charter fisherman friend of mine, who will remain anonymous for obvious reasons, because he is convinced that he has “lost his mojo” when it comes to catching fish.

I know it sounds silly, but I have been in his shoes before. Believe me when I say it really gets in your head that you are just plain stuck in bad luck. For me, it’s somewhat tolerable, but for a charter fisherman who spends every day out there and relies on fishing – and more importantly catching – for his livelihood, it can bring a person down.

I went sheepshead fishing shortly after that nearly week-long frigid snap right we had around New Year’s Eve. The tides were perfect, I had the best baits possible and was hitting several of my very best spots. I didn’t catch a single fish and, even worse, not even a single nibble. 

Am I not holding my mouth right? Did someone hide a banana on my boat? These are just a couple of examples of things a lot of fishermen seriously ponder – and believe me when I say they take them 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 and let the captain catch a glimpse of the banana you brought for a snack. 

All I can tell you is you better eat it fast because, even though you are a paying customer, every captain I know will reach right into your lunch sack, pull out the banana and in the blink of an eye, throw it overboard. I am not quite as adamant as most, but I too won’t hesitate to pitch someone’s banana overboard. 

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 when I grabbed the banana out of his snack bag and threw it overboard is an understatement. 

He had never heard that bananas were bad luck so the first thing that went through his head was I was some sort of weirdo. He was genuinely scared that I had a mental disorder. (My wife might agree that I’m weird.)

The banana superstition goes back to the 1700s, when bananas became popular here in the U.S. Sailboats were the only way to get bananas here from the Caribbean, so the captains would hoist all their sails to gain as much speed as possible to get the fruit to their destination before they spoiled. 

For the fishermen who usually acted as crew on these boats, that extra speed made it impossible for them to troll for fish as they made their voyage, and thus the banana legend began. 

To further illustrate just how far some captains go, I know a couple of them who won’t let clients onboard with Banana Boat suntan lotion nor shirts or other clothing bearing the Banana Republic tag. That seems a bit excessive to me, but to each his own.

Other than bananas, do I have any other things that ward off bad mojo? Oh yes! First and foremost is my lucky fishing hat. I have had many a lucky fishing cap over the years and the only reason it isn’t the same one is because they literally rot and fall apart. 

I am not one of those folks that will say, “Don’t worry about it, keep going” if my hat blows off while the boat is running. No sir! You would think I had dropped a Rolex watch overboard when that happens. 

I insist on going back and getting my lucky hat and I truly believe that success or failure during that day’s fishing 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 new hats until I find “the one.”

Some of my other quirky beliefs include my patented “fish dance” and music – but not just any music. If I had to pick just one performer that 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, and make you want to slap yo’ mama song! 

If you’re planning to go fishing, leave the bananas at home, put on your fishing cap and bring out the funk with some James Brown and you are guaranteed to bring home the bacon – or the fish. “Get up offa that thing and dance til you feel better, get up offa that thing and try to release that pressure. …”

Collins Doughtie, a 60-year resident of the Lowcountry, is a sportsman, graphic artist, and lover of nature.