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Bullhead Catfish
Posts: 142
Reply with quote  #1 
Good afternoon, need your advice.

You are having a great day floating and catching and suddenly a surprise thunder storm with heavy rain, wind and LIGHTNING blows in while you are in a raft or drift boat... what should you do?

Go to river bank and get out of the boat, stay in the boat next to the bank; or, float it out?

Got caught on the Madison and the SoHo and the Guides floated through it. I have also seen boats anchored and folks standing on the bank; and, boats anchored with folks in the boat next to shore.

So, what would you do. I would believe there is no correct answer; but, I would appreciate your opinion or experiences.

Thanks... Trav

Life is a gift!   Who is John Galt?  
Tired Bird Dogs, empty shells, dirty truck, make for great days!
Side x Side Shotguns and Classic English Setters.  
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Brown Trout
Posts: 1,960
Reply with quote  #2 

I have always gone to the bank, and tried to shelter under a rock or under a grove of trees.  I have waited out some pretty furious thunderstorms on the New River (multiple occasions), and on the Bitterroot in Montana.

The worst one was on the Big Hole River in Montana, we took what shelter we could find back up under the alders, as the storm raged all around us.  There were horizontal lightening bolts just above the river, which made the hair on my arms stand up, and I could taste ozone on my tongue.  Then it started to drop marble sized hail stones that hurt like heck, and it finally passed leaving us with snow flurries.  It was 90 degrees F and cloudless before the storm hit us.

I have never seen anyone float on through. 

Not sure standing up in a boat waving a graphite flyrod around is a good idea.

Take a timeout, and let it pass.

Find shelter if you can, get low is the key.


Largemouth Bass
Posts: 853
Reply with quote  #3 
I’ve always gone to the riverbank, parked the boat and sat on the bank, staying low, and waited out the storm.

Last summer there was a fatality on the Cheat when a tree fell on a fisherman presumably waiting out a storm on the riverbank. So nothing is foolproof I suppose.

Rainbow Trout
Posts: 725
Reply with quote  #4 
Been there many times in canoe and kayak. It totally depends on the circumstances as to how I handle it.
Most often we paddle to shore and take cover. Sometimes the only cover is the canoe upside down over
our heads while sitting on the cooler(s).

Been through some very bad storms on a river bank. Had trees fall within sight but thankfully never real close.
I'm always most fearful of lightning strikes.

Its always better if its outdoors.

Nanner Trout
Posts: 441
Reply with quote  #5 
I've always gone to shore.  Try to avoid the tallest tree in the area if possible, a rock overhang is ideal.  

I was wet wading the Roanoke River a few weeks ago.  The only trail down there was a good 20 minute walk from where I was.  As a storm approached I heard thunder and saw lightning in the distance.  I started fishing my way back and got to my truck just as it really started raging with a lot of lightning, rain blowing sideways, some hail mixed in, the whole 9 yards.  I passed several people working their way up stream as I was going out.  To make matters worse it was just below a dam, so if that storm dropped enough water, that dam would start releasing making egress even more difficult.   To each their own i guess. 

Hybrid Striped Bass
Posts: 330
Reply with quote  #6 
I was on the Williams River fishing  2 miles below Tea Creek and there were storms up in the headwaters.  Never rained a drop on me but the river quickly turned muddy and full of debris as I was standing in the middle with only hippers on.  I hurriedly made my way across the river and as I scrambled up the bank towards my truck I turned around only a minute later to see the river as a rushing flash flood.

Memo to self: even distant storms are dangerous in the watersheds.

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