Danger in Storms

Nothing beats a great day out on the water when the fish are biting and the weather is great. Ideally, people like to fish in prime weather conditions. Warm sunny days are the best days on the water but there are times when perfect weather conditions aren’t available. As you know, conditions can change rapidly and what started out as a beautiful warm summer day can quickly turn into a dangerous situation.

What’s the risk?

When it comes to fishing it’s always hard to put down the rod, but when a storm is approaching you have to think about what’s more important. Common sense would tell you to pack up you’re gear and get off the water as soon as a storm starts heading your way. It’s important to be wary and take in the warning signs associated with storms, in particular, lightening. Fishing with a rod in the air is almost as silly as fishing with a lightening rod or swinging a golf club in the middle of a storm.   There are serious risks to consider if you’re thinking about staying out when a storm is about to hit. My advice early on is don’t take the risk, get to shelter or get off the water as soon as possible. With that said there will be a few people who choose to take the risk.

Warning signs

Here are some warning signs that you may be at risk of a lightening strike:

Seeing lightening or hearing thunder: The obvious prompt to make you aware that you may be at risk is seeing lightening in the area or hearing thunder in the distance. If you hear thunder it may be a good idea to think about heading back in or at  the very least have a look at the many available weather sites or weather radars available on your phone. Best bet is to take the opportunity and get off the water early.

Floating line: When casting during a storm build up, braided line commonly floats unusually long. As the storm gains momentum the braid does not touch the water instead it rises into the air, caused by the static from the storm. This is a serious warning sign that you’re at risk of a lightening strike as the static build up can be so great that you become a prime target for earthing out and being hit.

Ticking in the guides: Static build up in the braid can also present as a ticking sound. As you wind your line back, the static can cause the braid to spark against the guides, causing a ticking sound.  In this situation get off the water immediately.

Hair lifting: Another warning sign of a lightening strike is static lifting the hair on your arms and legs some lightening strike victims even reported having a metallic taste in their mouth before a strike.

The above signals are all bad and should be taken seriously. As I said earlier the best action to take is to get off the water immediately. If you’re going to wait it out, I’d highly recommend finding a sheltered bay to hide out of the wind. The risk of deluge and capsizing is a major risk when caught out in the open.  Put all rods below deck and keep your body in a low position in the boat. If you can crouch on the floor of the boat, even better, this will help reduce your risk of being hit by lightening. Mother nature’s power should never be underestimated and I’ll always recommend getting off the water in the event of storm. If this can’t be done or it’s too late, please make sure you seek shelter, stay low and don’t take any risk.  

Remember that the second most dangerous place to be during a storm is on the water, the first is standing on top of a hill, so take storms seriously.

Written by Matthew Langford