According to this website:

He discovered that tinned asparagus was included as part of the emergency ration kit given to American pilots in the Pacific Ocean region, who were working for the US spy organization called the Office of Strategic Services.

The idea of the pilots eating asparagus was a clever one because those who were shot down, or stranded on remote islands had a very valuable way of feeding themselves. Asparagus contains mercaptans which are powerful chemical attractants, and when the vegetable is eaten, these chemicals pass into the urine. The pilots were told to urinate into the water, so that the chemicals would spread through the water and attract fish to the area, making them much easier to catch. This was of course, a valuable food source and the smell of asparagus is present in the urine after just fifteen minutes in many people, or thirty minutes at most.

Was it included in the emergency ration kit and does asparagus attract fish?

  • 1
    Off the cuff: No - because it would be far more effective to include dosages of the chemicals itself if that were so effective...
    – sehe
    Aug 28 '12 at 15:44
  • This one is hard... I've tried to find something about it but without success.
    – Zonata
    Sep 3 '12 at 3:16

I found an article explaining why pee smells after having eaten asparagus. It seems that it is caused by dimethyl sulfide and methanethiol. Therefore, I searched if these elements where able to attract fish. I found this on Reddit:

dimethyl sulfide is one of the compounds causing the asparagus smell. The wiki says it is also produced by marine phytoplancton and at least one fly eating plant (as a part of the attractant). (scientific source that claim the same thing as wikipedia)

Since we know that phytoplancton is at the base of eating chain, we can conclude that your thesis is possible. I also found this on the same Reddit post:

This study suggests "that DMSP is a major and hitherto unrecognized source of reduced sulfur for marine bacterioplankton". I'm no expert on the oceanic food chain, and don't know how long the cycle would be, but zooplankton like krill eat bacterioplankton, and are in turn eaten by fish.

In conclusion, I haven't found sufficient evidence supporting the claims that pilot where given asparagus to attract fish, but from biology literature we can infer that it could be possible. That is, however, not a proof.

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