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shiloh

Lightning on the lake

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Just wondering...

If you are out in the middle of a lake when a thunderstorm hits, what's the best thing to do?

I know...keep your casts low...sidearm preferred... ;D

I see the lake as a big flat area, and fishers in a boat are a bit of a raised "point" -- like a lightning rod...not a safe thing, IMO.  And if the lightning would hit anywhere on the lake, it would seem that being in a (metal...) boat isn't such a good thing either.

Do you head for shore?  But wait..there are trees there, and they also attract the lightning, no?

So...what's the advice? (staying home is NOT an option... 8)

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Get off the water. Yes trees attract lighting but there are a lot more trees on the shore than boats on a flat empty lake. I hope that you have seen the storm comming and already made plans to where to go and are already on the way to getting there. If you are on a large lake use someones boat dock and find some cover. If they get mad at you it doesn't matter you are still alive to fish another day.

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Heres my advice, and I know of alot of dead fisherman due to absolute poor judgement. You hear thunder, you're at risk. Lighting can strike anywhere up to about 25 {even farther at times} miles from the original source, so no, the old "count seconds after you hear a boom" is not an accurate assesment. Like I said, let's say you hear a boom far away, you figure, oh it's far away were safe, well you're not. Lighting itself is static electricity grounding itself, so it does not care how far away you are, it will find you. You are correct in that when you're on a lake, YOU are the highest point in the area, there is no "safe" method like keeping your rods low, the boat itself is the highest point. But, let's say somehow you get caught in a storm. What you should do is kneel down in the boat, do not lay down, and absolutely make sure you're not in contact with any electrical devices. Make sure none of your body is touching even the smallest metal screw, as this is what caused a man to die a few years back. One freaking screw allowed lighting to pass through this guys head, he was dead immediately. You're best bet when you hear or see lighting. Go to shore, kneel down, again don't lay down, and sit as still as possible. Lighting is my truest fear, I play no games with mother nature. No fish is worth dying over. Usually more than 100 people a year die of lighting strikes in the USA...not so rare as they say it is...Please be safe guys, please.

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I would get the heck outta there and go find shelter anywhere on shore. I would rather be alive and well than catch a 10 pounder and get struck by lighting minutes later.

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I'm outta there at the first crack of lightning!!!

I saw an article in Outdoor life magazine several years ago where a guy was struck by lightning.

It hit his rod as he was making a cast and the only thing that saved his life was a couple other fishermen close by saw what happened and rushed to his aid.

They said the storm was about 25 miles away.

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Just a few months ago I went out early in the morning I know that it was going to be a stormy morning so I stayed close to the ramp. I was fishing a point not 200 yards from the dock. The storm was comming and I was still about 4 or 5 miles away. I was catching large fish after large fish and I noticed that when I held my rod up it started to make a static noise. I instantly dropped my rod in my boat and headed to the truck. It scared me to death. It's not worth it to wait till the last minute because you don't know when that last minute is.

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anyone ever have their line float?  I mean, up off the water.  My partner says "dude, the hair on my arm is standin' straight up" at the same time I noticed his line start to elevate off the water like a magic trick.. Mine was doing the same.  Shore was our next move and it was a quick one !

I heard of a guy getting hit on a bike on a perfectly sunny day.  Evidently there was a storm like 20 miles away and evidently that's not a far distance for lightning to travel.

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I have always let the lake I was on dictate what I was going to do. On Lake of the Ozarks, if I am a long way from take off, I get close to but not touching the largest dock in my area and as another poster said, make sure your kneeling not laying in your boat. Lightning has a way of making things a little ?uncomfortable? prior to many strikes. I've seen line stay floatingin the air after a cast. I've had the hair on my arms stand straight one end. The closest I've been is had it hit a tree on the bank I was fishing. On Truman, I head for the steepest sided cove I can find with threes on the bank. I want something considerably taller than me on as many sides of me as possible and don't ground myself to anything if possible. Of course, if there is a marina close, I'll go sit under that or go in and have a bite to eat until it blows over The worst I've seen it was on Truman back in the early 90's. I got hit by a hail storm running wide open on the second day of practice, the lake level rose by 15 feet in three days of practice and two days of tournament. That weather was horrendous with many stories of lightning stikes, but luckily noone was injured!

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Guest avid

Shiloh, I can relate to your not wanting to get off of the water every time there is some lightning.  Here in SE Florida at this time of year there is at least one thunderstorm per day.  I like to fish in the evening when it's cooler and that is prime time for stroms.  The storms by me usually form over lake okeechobee, about 60 miles from here then travel east.  I watch them as they start rolling in.  what I do is to go to a narrow part of the lake where I am surrounded by tall trees, or rooftops.  I feel safer because I'm not the tallest object.  I admit that I'm probably taking a big risk, but if I ran off of the lake everytime I heard some thunder, I would loose the whole summer.  But I am not sure you should follow my example.  You see, I also LOVE to watch the storms comming in.  It is very invigorating, when the sky gets dark and the lightning is flashing.  The wind picks up, sometimes really strong.  I just think its all very exciting.  And very very dumb.    Oh well  :-/

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anyone ever have their line float? I mean, up off the water. My partner says "dude, the hair on my arm is standin' straight up" at the same time I noticed his line start to elevate off the water like a magic trick.. Mine was doing the same. Shore was our next move and it was a quick one !

Good thing you guys got off the lake! you were probebly the next thing to get hit. When your hair starts standing up you being were charged with static electricty. Then ZAP! Here is an interesting sight I found

http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/overview.htm

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J I noticed that when I held my rod up it started to make a static noise. I instantly dropped my rod in my boat and headed to the truck. It scared me to death.  

Ah....yes that would do it for me!!!

I think you dodged a (very big and nasty) bullet

....and lived to fish again!!

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Shiloh, I can relate to your not wanting to get off of the water every time there is some lightning.  Here in SE Florida at this time of year there is at least one thunderstorm per day.  I like to fish in the evening when it's cooler and that is prime time for stroms.  The storms by me usually form over lake okeechobee, about 60 miles from here then travel east.  I watch them as they start rolling in.  what I do is to go to a narrow part of the lake where I am surrounded by tall trees, or rooftops.  I feel safer because I'm not the tallest object.  I admit that I'm probably taking a big risk, but if I ran off of the lake everytime I heard some thunder, I would loose the whole summer.  But I am not sure you should follow my example.  You see, I also LOVE to watch the storms comming in.  It is very invigorating, when the sky gets dark and the lightning is flashing.  The wind picks up, sometimes really strong.  I just think its all very exciting.  And very very dumb.    Oh well  :-/

Actually I DO want to get off the water when lightning is near!!  ;D (I may be crazy, but not stupid... ::) )

Avid, I would say you were rolling the dice parking between the trees and the buildings...

But I also agree that violent weather is pretty cheap -- and spectaculat -- entertainment.  I remember sitting on my front porch (when I was a mere wisp of a child...) and watching the t-storms roll in toward our house.  I sat in a metal chair...drove my grandmother nuts!!  :-X

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I had a good friend of mine struck by lightning years ago/  It was the only lightning strike in the St Louis area that day.  It didn't kill him but he had a big hole in his stomach and it blew the bottom of both feet off.  I now live in the lightning capital of the world, central Florida, believe me at first sound of thunder I head for the house.

                             CPR ;D

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Oh and you guys that said you go by trees. Only do this if you have to and take cover under the smallest trees available. I really don't know the exact reason but if you're next to tall objects you're at a much higher risk. I'm not trying to preach to you guys, I just want everyone to be as fully aware of lighting risks as possible.

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Funny I read this thread yesterday and today our trip was cut a tad bit short due to some distant lightning.

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I have an aluminum boat so it's get the H**L off as fast as I can even if it's at a distance.

Chow

The Pa Angler

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Shiloh, I can relate to your not wanting to get off of the water every time there is some lightning. Here in SE Florida at this time of year there is at least one thunderstorm per day. I like to fish in the evening when it's cooler and that is prime time for stroms. The storms by me usually form over lake okeechobee, about 60 miles from here then travel east. I watch them as they start rolling in. what I do is to go to a narrow part of the lake where I am surrounded by tall trees, or rooftops. I feel safer because I'm not the tallest object. I admit that I'm probably taking a big risk, but if I ran off of the lake everytime I heard some thunder, I would loose the whole summer. But I am not sure you should follow my example. You see, I also LOVE to watch the storms comming in. It is very invigorating, when the sky gets dark and the lightning is flashing. The wind picks up, sometimes really strong. I just think its all very exciting. And very very dumb. Oh well :-/

Everybody should take a moment to say hi to Avid because his path that he follows when there is a storm is what kills people here in Florida every year.  He could definitely be the next statistic we have down here.

It should be real easy for everyone on this subject.

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Bassman, thank you for that article on lightning.

It is the best article I have ever read on lightning.

I certainiy will heed the advice.

Thanks again.

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i ussualy watch for the signs of lightnin.  like line floatin, or hair standin.  best of luck to ya'.  lol.  

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