Once again, it is the Roman festival of Tiber fishermen.
"The day's a festival for those who tug at dripping lines
And hide their bronze hooks under little strands of bait."
So I have found a few fishing superstitions for the Compleat Anglers among you.
1. Irish anglers believed that they would have no luck if the first person they met asked where they were going, if they saw a magpie, or if they were “so unfortunate as to meet a woman.”
A subsequent explanation says that this does not apply to maidens.
[So I should hope! I’ve known a few Irishmen, and Irish-descended men, and not one of them would be so ungallant as to consider the presence of a young lady a deterrent to fishing. In fact, they pretty much fell over themselves not only to show me their favorite (invariably secluded) fishing spots, but to teach me the finer points of holding a pole.]
2. It means a good catch of fish to meet an idiot on the way to your boat [this shouldn’t be hard. We’re in an election year.]
3. It is lucky to throw the first fish caught back into the water. [So what if it is the biggest rainbow trout you’ve ever seen. Toss it or there will be no more!]
4. The grand-nephew of a dear friend of mine kisses the first fish he catches, so that he will catch more.
[No word yet on whether it is the first fish of the season or the first fish of the day that gets the quick buss, but I’m sure he deserves an excellent haul for such manly bravery!]
5. At the beginning of the fishing season, the first fish caught would show by its sex what that season would bring. If it was a female, there would be a good haul. If it was male, the fishing would be poor [how to tell the difference? Lift their tails?]
6. If you count the number of fish you have caught, you will catch no more that day.
7. If the fish will not bite, one of the company of fishermen should be thrown into the water and quickly hauled out again as if he were a fish. The fish will then begin to nibble. [I would so like to see that.]
8. Spitting on the bait is lucky. Spit on it three times for the best luck. [For you, maybe; the bait is probably squicked…]
9. While you are fishing, name the worm. If you catch a fish, your lover is true [and for pity’s sake, don’t tell your true love that you christened a worm after him or her.]
10. Fish east, fish bite least;
Fish west, fish bite best.
A more detailed explanation is:
Wind from the south, hook in the mouth,
Wind from the east, bite the least;
Wind from the north, further off;
Wind from the west, bite the best.”
11. Fish bite best when dogwood is in bloom.
12. Fish will not bite when it is thundering [they aren’t stupid. The idiot out there with a veritable lightning rod in his hand is likely to attract unwished for attention, and anything on the other end of the pole will likely be fried as well.]
13. If you find a leaf in the water, throw it back to dry land for good luck.
14. To carry a fishing pole into the house will prevent your catching anything [except possibly hell from the person whose lamp your pole just knocked over]
15. It is unlucky to change poles, while you are fishing.
16. It is also unlucky to change hooks.
17. If you let the end of a pole touch the water, you will catch no fish.
18. Stepping over a fishing pole is like walking under a ladder. Yep. Unlucky.
19. If you curse while you are fishing, the fish will not bite. [so watch your language!]
20. If you let another person get fishing bait from your bait can, you will have no luck [an excellent excuse for not letting anyone else have a chance at that cutthroat trout.]
21. It is bad luck to take a dog with you on a fishing trip, for you will catch no fish [the dog might, of course.]
on the other hand
22. A child on board is considered good luck [especially if you can teach them to bait a hook.]
23. If a rabbit crosses your path on the way to the ol’ fishing hole, you will catch no fish.
on the other hand
24. If you should see an earwig while on the way to the water, you will be lucky indeed.
25. If a dragon-fly lights on your line while you are fishing, the fish will not bite. However, the dragonflies point out the places where the fish are by setting on the banks or flags, in the proper direction [you never knew there was a breed of dragonfly called ‘pointer’, did you?]
26. If you sit with your shadow thrown on the water, you will not catch fish [they can seeee you!]
27. When you leave your house for a fishing expedition, kick off your right shoe for good luck [put it back on again for comfort]
28. Bury your fish bones for good luck [good luck being that the other people in the house will not call you bad names for leaving your cleanings in the kitchen trash on a hot day]
And the best times for fishing are – or aren’t:
29. The best time to fish is the period when the sign of the zodiac is in the feet. To fish when the sign is in the head is bad luck.
30. Fish bite best in the dark of the moon, because on moonlight nights they feed at night.
31. Fish bite more just before a rain.
32. It is unlucky to fish on Friday.
33. Or on Sunday.
34. If you fish for the first time on Good Friday, you will have good fishing all year.
on the other hand
35. Ascension day is the time when you should go fishing for the first time in spring.
[Just make sure neither one is before the official start of fishing season, or you will start with bad luck and a fine.]
36. To dream of catching a large fish is a harbinger of prosperity.
37. When fish jump above the surface of the water, you may expect rain [aw, heck! If you take your fishing pole out, you may expect rain. Just place it in the car and listen for the first rumble of thunder.]
Good luck and good haul. I’m going off to read Patrick McManus on the finer points of fishing.