But here was the odd thing. Fishermen all over the world are a superstitious lot. And what came up on this trip was the following:
Don’t bring bananas on the boat. Bananas bring bad luck. They scare away the fish. You won’t catch anything.
I thought this a might curious, perhaps a Mexican superstition. But I see that it is far more widespread than that. This article says the belief is prevalent among crab fishermen in the U.S. as well, and may have roots dating back to the banana trade from Central America a century ago.
Banana boats moved to fast for fishermen to troll effectively. The boats were trying to get their perishables to market.
This LA Times article from 2001 quotes a sport fishing boat captain, Bouncer Smith, of South Florida, and the extensive efforts he goes through to rid anything redolent of bananas from his boat.
"Typically, when customers arrive in the morning, the first thing I do is interrogate them," Smith said. "First, I check for bananas, then I check for Banana Boat sunscreen products, then for Banana Republic shirts and blouses, then for Starburst strawberry-banana [candies] and, most important of all, for Fruit of the Loom labels."
Now back to Ascension Bay. This is an amazing place, part of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. Turquise waters. Extensive flats for bonefishing. It takes an hour and a half along a gravel road to get there from Tulum. But it feels further. I have not seen a night sky lit up with stars like that in years. Our first day out, we saw not a single other boat after traveling miles and miles on the bay. It was like going to Yellowstone and finding it deserted. When we weren't fishing, we were seeing countless roseate spoonbills and frigate birds.