From The Kona Fishing Chronicles 2009/2010 — March, 2009
In a recent phone call, a long-time Honolulu fisherman claimed that he knew the origin of the banana jinx and had successfully used the redolent fruit in a tournament to put the hex on a competing team.
His tale can be peeled down to these basics. Fish don’t like the smell of bananas. If you handle bananas and then your fishing tackle, you transfer the stink to your lures. Because your lures are defiled by the evil smell of bananas, the fish shun your otherwise-perfect offerings. Luck, says this fellow, has nothing to do with it.
That argument presumes that fish don’t like bananas, that you can actually transfer the smell from your hands to your lures, that the smell does not wash off during hours of trolling, and that a marlin can pick up the minute trace of stink when attacking a lure at high speed.
I asked him about instances when fishermen discovered they had bananas aboard, tossed them overboard, and then got strikes soon after. The stink may have left the boat with the jettisoned bananas, but the lures had already been tainted.
While not admitting to the inconsistency in his argument, he launched into the story about a time when he had jinxed none other than the late Dudley Lewis and his fishing team aboard the storied Leimalia.
My caller said he and his buddies hid a bunch of bananas aboard Leimalia, then laughed as Dudley’s team went fishless while they, themselves, caught plenty.
The unlucky Leimalia team, however, hadn’t handled the hidden fruit (they didn’t even know it was there). But my caller had.
By his own reasoning, I told him, he had actually jinxed himself.
That’s when he hung up.
The title is a double entendre that expresses both sides of the discussion. When you see the title, you see “in action.” When you read the title aloud, you hear “inaction.” Do you believe that bananas jinx fishing trips? Do you think that the Hawaiian fishermen/voyagers of old believed they brought bad luck? Your answer determines whether you see the jinx “in action” or think of the jinx as inactive. If you were sitting in my class right now, I would ask you to underline the part of the post that supports your position!