Merwin: Leave It At The Dock

Politics, religion, and fishing. Now there's a combination that's a little like trying to mix gasoline and water with a propane torch. You don't know quite what you're going to get, only that it might become very hot.

I point this out because when I first started taking my wife along occasionally on charter boats, I had to explain to her that she must leave anything related to politics or religion at the dock. When on the boat with other people, don't mention a word even remotely related to either topic. If you do, it could be a very long day.

Those are items about which many people feel very strongly, including charter captains, boat mates, and other anglers. On one early trip, when she still didn't believe me, she started chatting enthusiastically about a recent election as we headed out of the harbor. The skipper was at the helm to my immediate right, and I could see his jaw muscles clench as she blithely talked on. Uh-oh.

We were lucky that time in that things didn't escalate into a day- long argument from which, being on a boat, there would be no refuge or escape. When in doubt, change the subject to something more benign. There are all kinds of pleasantries that can be exchanged in good humor on a fishing boat. If you don't want a bomb to go off and ruin your fishing day, then don't light the fuse.