The bane of a fisherman’s existence, in more ways than one, is severe weather. When clouds roll in and the sky turns dark, getting to safety is paramount. Far too often tragedy strikes as trying to make just one more cast proves to be a dangerous mistake.
In a study conducted by NOAA, 64% of lightning strike deaths are attributed to leisure activities. At the top of this list is fishing, which had a total of 26 deaths from 2006 to 2013. Even if you aren’t fishing, however, outdoor enthusiasts still face plenty of risk with camping, watersports/boating, and swimming responsible for many lightning strike deaths. It is also noteworthy that of those killed by lightning strikes, 82% were male.
Wrapping up a day of fishing involves extra time to get to a safe place, which ups the ante when it comes to a possible lightning strike. However, another factor is the boat from which you fish. For example, bass boats, pontoons, and other boats that sit low in the water are far less likely to receive a strike at a chance of 0.1 in 1,000. On the other end of the spectrum are sailboats with tall masts that come in at a chance of 3.8 in 1,000. All of this in combination drives home that point that we must be safe on the water and plan to be back in plenty of time ahead of a storm.
If you have doubts about the true danger associated with lightning and your ability to take a hit, check out the video below shot by Anja Englert, which clearly demonstrates why you do not want to be on the receiving end of a strike.
Remember that a fishing rod held upward is an attractant, and because lightning can strike 3 miles from a storm, even an absence of clouds is no guarantee you’re safe when a storm is looming. Coming in early may be a bummer, but living to fish another day is what counts.