Lightning Awareness

Warning: Is it worth one more cast?

While watching the 10 p.m. news, the weather reports shows that a low pressure front is arriving the following morning at 11 a.m.

So if you are a tough fisher person like me, you’ve got to go fishing before the front hits. With the low pressure squall coming in the fish should feed up before the storm. This is a huge opportunity to catch a big spring time bass on Toledo Bend. Launching before daybreak. Heading out to the hot spot you see a reflection off the water of a quick flash in the darkness. And then it happens and in your mind you are thinking “what was that?”. The storm is not suppose to be here until 11 a.m. Then you hear a slight rumble over the engine’s sound. You keep pushing to get to the spot for the first cast of your fly rod with your favorite fly tied on.

You are starting to see the morning light break though, and then you see another brighter flash through the tree line. “What was that?” You hear a big boom. Oh no, the news said there might be lightning, and heavy rain. Reality sinks in, and then another flash of light bigger and brighter with an overpowering sound. It starts getting dark again. The morning sun disappears. Then a Boom that was close by. Pause…

Now Captain, what are you going to do?

I can’t run back to the marina. The storm is early and it’s already on top of me. I call this incoming, and head to the bank. I get out of the boat and into the forest to the bottoms and stay low. The lighting should hit the tallest tree on the hill.

Bassmaster Central Division Open, February 20-22, 2019, on Toledo Bend and the second day was canceled due to weather (February 21).

The storm passes, I got lucky this time...just a little wet. The air temperatures drop 20 degrees. I hopped back in the Gator Tail and do a quick inspection. All electrical systems are okay. Pushed off the bank, put the trolling motor down and proceeded back to the spot. Then I noticed that one of the upright dead trees that I was casting close to was still smoldering from a lightning strike. Now, I’m looking back at what just transpired and realized “is it worth one more cast?”

Mother Nature is so powerful and beautiful at the same time. Fly fishing can be a challenge and rewarding, but please note the new age fly rods are lighter and have faster actions with more graphite than the old glass or bamboo rods. Today’s fly rods are manufactured in many lengths, 5’ - 12’ or longer.

Warning: A longer rod is just a lightning strike ready to be grounded in bad weather.

A few days later, I was doing some research on the Internet concerning Lightning Strikes and found some great information to pass on.

What Happens when Lighting Strikes:

Lighting strike temperature can reach up to 100 million volts of power.

When lighting hits big water, the electrical charge will spread out over the water surface outward not downward to the fish.

Graphite rods will buzz in your hand when the rod is in the upward position due to static in the atmosphere to the ground.

When offshore, Graphite rods will glow at the tip top in low light conditions. As a Captain, we call this St Elmo’s Fire.

Graphite rods spooled with mono-filament line will stay suspended in midair over the water on the cast.

It is advised to take off all metal products (watches, phones, necklaces, rings and yes zippers on your pants) as they can melt to your body.

Rain jacket apparel needs to be of rubber materials with no metal zippers.

Rubber soled shoes should be worn that cover your whole foot. Do not wear flip flops.

More people are killed in the U.S. by lighting strikes than hurricanes and tornadoes combined.

If you find yourself heading to safe harbor and see 20 boats ahead of you. Do not stay in line in your boat. Beach the boat, seek shelter, get in your vehicle and keep the windows rolled up or get indoors. Do not lean against or be behind metal poles or under a metal awning.

Captain Scooby made a few phone calls to his weekend fishing warriors, Captains, Offshore Captains, tournament guys, friends and golfers

The one question, I asked was “do you have a lightning story?” After many conversations, I broke this down into two categories.

The people afraid of lighting get off the water early and have NO stories.

The people that are storm tellers are the people that waited too long to seek shelter and had many long stories.

Let me leave you with this one rule:

The 30-30 Lighting Rule

If it takes less than 30 seconds to hear thunder after seeing the flash – lighting is near enough to pose a threat.

After the storm ends, wait 30 minutes before resuming outdoor activities.

Always wear your life jacket and kill switch. Don’t be a smoldering statistic.

Happy Trails,

Captain Scooby

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