Merwin: Fishing in the Danger Zone

While surfcasting in Rhode Island over the weekend, I stopped for a look at an old favorite spot where I no longer fish--off the aptly named Hazard Avenue in Narragansett. (As in "Hi, Neighbor! Have a 'Gansett!" for those with a memory for old beers.) These rock ledges (pictured) are algae-covered and slicker than oil on ice.

Once, while casting here, I got nailed by a big rogue wave that sent me ass-over-teakettle backward into some rocks. At that point, I was on my hand and knees digging my hands like claws into the rocks and trying not to be swept into the surf by the backwash. I was okay, but it was a close call.

Fishermen get killed by the surf here with some regularity, mostly by tempting fate on the slippery ledges. There are other places to fish, and I long ago decided to avoid this one henceforth.

It used to be I spent time figuring how to get across a river rapid or how to wade out on a rocky point. These days, though, I spend more time figuring out how I'm going to get back again.

So there are places I no longer fish just because they now seem too risky. But how about you folks--spend any time fishing along the edge of disaster? Ever push your luck and wish you hadn't?