Fly fishing may be the most dangerous of outdoor activities to participate in during a lightning storm. Unfortunately, those late summer afternoons that offer some of the best fishing conditions also offer some of the highest risks of thunderstorms. Typically those storms can form fast. The rain can put just the right amount of color in the river so that they fish are on the chow, but you must be smart when fishing during these times due to the risk of lightning. The safest way to fish during a lightning storm is to avoid it all together! If you happen to be out fishing and a sudden storm rolls in, holding a graphite rod is not where you want to be.
The first step when a storm comes in is to move away from the water and any metal. Set your rod down on the ground and look for some cover. You do not want to be the largest structure in the area. If you cannot get under cover, look for a ditch or someplace that will keep you down low to the ground. Crouch on your heals for minimal contact with the ground. If you are able to find a structure (outhouse, under a bridge, etc) to take cover in that is ideal, but avoid making contact with that structure. If you see lightning and hear the thunder within 30 seconds, you are at risk of being struck. If you are able to get into a car or truck, this is a safe spot, just sit away from the door and do your best to not touch any metal inside. Avoid taking cover under large trees.
Regardless of how good the fishing may be, the best thing to do is avoid fishing in a storm all together. If you see a storm brewing, get off the water. Life is already short, don’t make it any shorter!
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