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Birth of a Superstition


Stories of banana induced misfortune date back to the early 1700s in the Caribbean sea. Many of the wooden sailing ships that carried bananas had to travel quickly in order to get the fruit to its destination before spoiling. Crew members that were trying to fish along the way caught little due to the boats speed.

Another explanation is that when another ship came upon the scene of a deadly shipwreck in the Caribbean sea, many times the only visible sign of trouble were the floating cases of bananas bobing up and down in the open ocean. This led to the superstitious belief that the bananas themselves were to blame for the lives that were lost.

Probably the most reasonable suggestion is that bananas provided a way for venomous spiders to get on board the cargo ships, and eventually expand their territory to the crew’s living and dining quarters.


Spider bites could not be treated easily at sea in the 1700s and many became fatal. The deaths were again attributed to the bananas.

No matter the accepted reason, here in the 21st century, bananas are still forbidden on most recreational fishing vessels. Offshore captains in the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Keys have been known to even include Banana Boat sunscreen and Banana Republic clothing in the list of things not welcome aboard.

Things are a little more relaxed here on Lake Erie. I can’t say that I have ever noticed an impact from the wrong brand of sunscreen or clothing, but the presence of the fruit itself has definitely ruined some potentially great days of fishing. Superstitious or not, every angler should think carefully about his or her potassium intake before climbing aboard any fishing boat, even if it is a charter boat on Lake Erie. 

Lake Erie Fun Facts & History

  • More fish are produced each year for human consumption from Lake Erie than from the other four Great Lakes combined.


  • The lake was named by the Erie tribe of Native Americans who lived along its southern shore. That Iroquoian tribe called it "Erige" ("cat") because of its unpredictable and sometimes violently dangerous nature. It is a matter of conjecture whether the Lake was named after the tribe, or if the tribe was called "Erie" because of its proximity to the Lake.


  • Lake Erie was the last of the Great Lakes to be discovered by Europeans, by Louis Joliet (a French explorer) in 1669.


  • The famous quotation "We have met the enemy and they are ours," was made by Oliver Hazzard Perry during the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812, which secured the south shore of the lake for the U.S.


  • Lake Erie is the 12th-largest (area) lake in the world, and its border includes four states (NY, PA, OH, MI) and one Canadian Province (Ontario).


  • Lake Erie is the southernmost, shallowest, warmest, and most biologically productive of the five Great Lakes.


  • Lake Erie has three basins: the western basin includes the islands area, the central basin extends from the islands to Erie, PA, and Long Point, Canada, and the eastern basin extends from Erie, PA, to the east end of the lake.


  • Lake Erie is about 241 miles (338 km) long and about 57 miles (92 km) wide.


  • The maximum depth is 210 feet (64 m). Average depths in the basins are: western, 24 feet (7.3 m); central, 60 feet (18.3 m); and eastern, 80 feet (24.4 m).


  • The water surface area is 9,906 square miles (25,657 sq. km) and the volume is 116 cubic miles (483 cu. km).


  • Lake Erie's drainage basin area is 22,720 square miles (58,800 sq. km) and has a retention/replacement time of 2.6 years, which is the shortest of the Great Lakes.


  • Water flow from the Detroit River makes up 80 to 90% of the flow into the lake.


  • The outlet for Lake Erie is the Niagara River; consequently, it is Lake Erie that feeds water to Niagara Falls.


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