Where: Griffin Beach, Webster Lake, Franklin, NH
Thunder & Lightning?
Today was a short outing. After all, I was out for a long day yesterday. But more importantly, the weather channel threatened there could be thunder storms in the afternoon.
How dangerous IS lightning?
Lightning kills nearly 100 Americans a year. Lightning is responsible for more deaths in the US than hurricanes and tornados combined. More than half those killed were involved in some type of outdoor recreation, such as fishing or boating. And nearly 1,000 are struck by lightning. They survive, but often with severe, light-long injuries. So a smart BassHole avoids fishing anywhere NEAR a possible lightning storm.
Cloudy but no lightning
So I began my day fishing under very cloudy skies. I wondered if that would somehow improve my fishing luck.
I fished the usual spots that I like to hit, moving out to the rocky ledge area where I caught the smallmouths last year. However, there was no action anywhere. I could SEE a fish cruising along, and of course I did try to get his attention, but he simply ignored me!
Jeesh! It’s like he didn’t WANT to get stuck with a hook and hauled out of the water!
Darker and Darker.
Then conditions began to decline. I had my sunglasses on, but it was starting to get as dark as night!
So I made my way to shore, fishing all the way (HEY, the lightning hadn’t started yet!), and finally reached shore.
Help from Franklin Folks!
As I was leaving the lake, some construction workers from my town of Franklin were also leaving the beach, after having finished their labors on the well I spoke about in an earlier post.
They most kindly assisted me in getting out of the water. Due to my injury last year, I’m still a bit wobbly getting in and out, and use my oar to help steady me. So they provided friendly arms to support me, even unsnapped my flippers for me, and carried my Hobie Float Cat to my truck!
Just as I was getting into my truck to leave, the rain drops started to sprinkle. My drive home is only 5 minutes, and by then the rain was a soaking downpour.
And lightning? We didn’t have any lightning around our house, but I don’t know about out on the lake. Since they were predicted, I decided to not risk my life!
When should you stop fishing?
The National Weather Service reports that lightning can strike 10 miles from it’s source cloud. And of course lightning is FAST! Well, 1/3 the speed of light. That’s 220,000,000 miles per hour. Thunder, it’s partner, travels at a poky 750 miles per hour. So you’ll be hit by lightning long before you hear it’s accompanying thunder.
Hear Thunder? Time to leave!
Any thunder you hear means you’ve MADE your last cast. Get to safety, now!
Storm passed? Not So Fast, BassHole!
Clouds trailing a storm can also produce lightning, so experts advise fishermen wait at least 30 minutes after the storm.
What if you’re unable to get off the water?
If you can’t get off the water, or can’t get yourself inside to safety, here are a few tips to make you as safe as possible:
- Put your rod down. Holding your rod up in the air is like holding an antennae to attract the lighting. Ever seen a lightning rod? Invented by Benjamin Franklin, this simple invention has been credited with saving more property and lives than possibly any other invention. But YOU don’t want to Be a lightning rod in a electrical storm!
- Get low. If you are on land, hunker down near shrubs or small trees, but stay lower than they are and don’t touch them. If the terrain has no shrubs or trees, try to find a lower spot of ground, and crouch down on your knees. Avoid solitary trees, isolated structures, and anything metal.
- What about your car? As long as it’s not a convertible or have a fiberglass roof, your vehicle can offer some shelter. Just keep your hands in your lap, and don’t touch the steering wheel, ignition, radio, or other parts that could transmit electrical charges.
- What if you’re in your boat? Being on the water in a boat is very high risk during a lightning storm. Simply because you are often the highest thing on the water’s surface. While in a boat, if you had thunder or see lightning, get to land. Period. If you can’t make it, make sure all your fishing rods are flat, lower any antennas, and if possible disconnect any electronics: VHF radio, GPS, fish finder, etc. Crouch down in the boat, avoiding contact with any metal, wiring, or the motor. And don’t touch the water.
Stay safe! AND alive!
As much as I love to fish, and even though I have no problem fishing in the rain, if it’s going to be a lightening storm, get off the water.
Those who fish and run away, live to fish another day.
Let me know your own storm fishing survival stories!
Roger, The Smiling BassHole