Lightning tops US fishing deaths

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Alosa, Jul 4, 2013.

  1. Alosa Active Member

    Posts: 333
    Seattle
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  2. Greg Armstrong Active Member

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    Pugetropolis
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  3. Kaiserman content

    Posts: 2,574
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    Wow! I would have guessed golf.

    Yeah, not to self: If you ever feel a "tingle" in the back of your neck (like the hair on your neck is rising) or on your arms...hit the deck man. At that point, moments before a strike, the lighting has chosen you as its grounding point.

    I studied about the equivalent of 9 years of electrical theory (and the like) in college. Lightening is an absolutely fascinating natural phenomenon! The point of the bolt, on its way down, is the width of just one electron. The reason it's jagged on the way down, is because it is "seeking" the most negative ions in the air, on its path to the earth.

    Okay, the geek in me just came out.
  4. Greg Armstrong Active Member

    Posts: 1,014
    Pugetropolis
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    I certainly don't want to minimize the risk of lightening. 26 deaths since 2006 while fishing due to lightening strikes is no laughing matter. There was an article a while back about this in one of the Flyfishing mag's.
    But I wonder how many deaths have occurred due to accidents on the highway while travelling to/from a favorite fishing hole have happened during the same time period. I have a hunch it's more.
    We all take risks every day and it's good remembering that.
    Every day is a gift.
    Lugan likes this.
  5. _WW_ Fishes with Wolves

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    Skagit River
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    ...I thought lightning went from the ground up...
  6. Olive bugger Active Member

    Posts: 2,354
    Woodinville, WA
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    A man standing hip deep in water with a graphite rod extended in the air, in an electron charged enviornment, WHAT COULD GO WRONG?
    dryflylarry and triploidjunkie like this.
  7. shadowcast Member

    Posts: 116
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    I think this just testifies to our dedication...or stupidity. Nah, definitely the former.
  8. freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Posts: 3,958
    Edgewood, WA
    Ratings: +704 / 1
    I always thought Gierach's book title should have been "Standing in Water, Waiving a Lightening Rod". Only time I was freaked was at Lake Lac LeJuene in 1997 (date is easy to remember because I had just lost my dad a couple months into that year). I had just started kicking my way out on what was a nice sunny day. I kept noticing boats coming in past me and it wasn't until I was a few hundred feet out and started flipping around to set-up that I saw the darkest, meanest looking storm front ever barreling down the cut in the mountains.

    It had been approaching silently up till then, but as I started kicking hard to make it back to shore and the camper, the wind started increasing fast and then came the electricity. There was a tree on an island in the lake that got smoked -- I'm guessing .2 miles from me -- that freaked me out. By the time I got to shore, grabbed my stuff (instinct I guess) and made a bee-line for the truck, it was dropping, marble sized hail sideways and firing off strikes left and right. I threw the rods on the ground and layed on the floor of the camper trying not to touch anything. A few times I felt a buzzing sound in the air (hard to explain) and I'd prefer not to experience that again.

    Within an hour, the sun was making it's way back out and folks came out from shelter to resume the fishing...though a little more cautiously that day.

    I wonder if many of the fishing victims are caught on open waters vs. in the mountains? Still, if that's God's plan, at least it's while doing something fun.
    Rob Hardman likes this.
  9. Old Man Just an Old Man

    Posts: 21,530
    Dillon, Mt
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    In was in a thunder and lightening storm one time on Pilchuck Creek. I heard someplace that a graphite rod attracts lightening like bees to honey. I broke my rod down and headed for my rig.
  10. Jonathan Tachell Active Member

    Posts: 790
    Gig Harbor, Washington
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    You know your are in a nasty storm with a lot of electricity when your fly rod starts buzzing in your hand and the further to the sky you point it the buzzing noise gets louder.
    Andrew Lawrence likes this.
  11. Kaiserman content

    Posts: 2,574
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    The awesome thing about lightning, is that it hasn't been completely understood. We know where it comes from, the dangers, etc., however to explain in with pin point accuracy is near impossible. It sometimes defies the why, when, where.

    For instance: A storm will be a couple miles off, yet lightning will strike overhead to where you are, even though the clouds above you are minor compared to just a mile away or so. Scientists believe in instances like that, that the route for the electrons to travel is an "easier" path across the sky, then down to where you are, verses straight down to the earth from where the storm is at 2 or 3 miles away. Unfortunately, some little kids have been killed in soccer or softball games this way. The umpires thought they were well enough away from the storm (which was moving away from them), and tragedy hit one little girl standing in center field.

    The basic answer to your comment, is that the electrical kinetic energy that is "built up" in the clouds, overcomes the static barrier between the clouds and the earth. Think of that as the "+" side, and the earth is the "-". Once the bolt hits the earth, the negative electrons travel from the ground, up the bolt, into the cloud, and neutralize the difference in potential - this happens at virtually the speed of light since it is traveling through air . The thunder, is like the "zap" we get from static electricity, except obviously a lot louder. Sound travels slower than light, and blah blah blah.

    Believe it or not, heat lightning is easier to understand (theory wise) verses, what we would call normal lightning (sky to ground).
  12. triploidjunkie Active Member

    Posts: 2,281
    Grand Coulee, WA
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    I read something somewhere that between drowning and lightning, fishing is statistically the most dangerous sport out there. I'm assuming that is because there are hundreds of thousands of people fishing on any given day, and only a handful of rockclimbers or skydivers.
  13. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,635
    Somewhere on the Coast
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    I'd like to see a comparison of "death by drowning and/or lighting" statistics, to "death by car-crash-on-the-way-to-the-fishing-spot" statistics.
    I think I know which grim reaper wins that one.

    I wouldn't be surprised if more fisher people die of infections that they contracted in hospitals after being admitted for something totally unrelated to fishing, than die from lightning strikes. (Of course, infections contracted in hospitals don't single out fisher people, but there's something like 10,000 deaths per year in the U.S.A. from infections contracted while in hospitals. That's an average of 500 per state per year).

    I'm not dissing lightning as a potential hazard, but I suspect that other, more mundane events are statistically deadlier to fisher people.

    One could always lose the graphite and go back to glass or bamboo.:rolleyes:
    Tom Bowden likes this.
  14. Old406Kid Active Member

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    Spokane, WA
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    How about on the way home after a long day and a dozen or so beers?
  15. Jim Wallace Smells like low tide

    Posts: 5,635
    Somewhere on the Coast
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    I don't think I ever consumed more than a sixer in one day in my entire life, so I don't have an answer for that one. I never did drink lite beer though. Could never get used to the idea of buying canned shitty tasting water.
    A dozen or so real beers!:confused: That would likely kill me before I got to my car.
  16. Old406Kid Active Member

    Posts: 312
    Spokane, WA
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    I've fished thru a few that reminded me of the priest on Caddy Shack. Probably not the best choice but seems like
    the fishing has always been really good during the storms.
  17. Jim Ficklin Genuine Montana Fossil

    Posts: 2,255
    Columbia Basin
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    Get caught in a major thunderstorm at a high mountain lake in the Montana Rockies and you become very humble & thankful after the storm passes & you realize you are wet but alive. That day gave me religion (and a lot of unplanned exercise while recovering the horses).
  18. Andrew Lawrence Active Member

    Posts: 734
    Renton, WA.
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    I had that happen to me under the power lines on the Skykomish.
  19. Toney My other car is a fly rod.

    Posts: 106
    Seattle
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    What I hear less about is what are the safe places to be in a thunderstorm when you have no place to go but in the trees. Are you safe in a forest setting with a bunch of tress around you? This is the typical scenario for me and many others. OK, I know stay away for a lone tree, caves, and such, but what about a grove of trees?
  20. Dipnet aka Tim Hartman

    Posts: 881
    Silverdale, WA
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    From the NWS: http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/outdoors.htm

    Also, from the Mountaineers site:
    "Don't seek refuge under isolated trees. The highest object will tend to attract the stroke of lightning. If possible, seek groups of trees or shrubs of similar height. If the lone tree is the only choice of refuge, move away from it and seek the lowest ground available, following the tips for safety in open locations. If you're on a high, exposed ridge or peak, try to climb down as quickly as is safely possible. If low, rolling hills are nearby, seek refuge in a low spot. Such terrain is especially common on golf courses or along shorelines."