Don’t let thunderstorms destroy your boat
by Staff Writer
Expect severe thunderstorms in August!
That is why it is important to be weather wise when fishing on area lakes. Weather wise means keeping a watchful eye for dark clouds on the horizon, lightning flashes and the sound of thunder.
Also, recognize that sudden drops in temperatures or wind shifts that produce choppy conditions are indications that a storm is brewing.
For those who aren’t weather savvy, today’s smart phones have applications that show radar images of approaching storms. VHF radios have stations that report the movement of extreme weather systems.
Summer storms move quickly, so the sooner you realize that one is approaching, the more time you have to take the safest evasive action. Usually there are two choices: Ride it out or make a mad dash for home.
Trying to outrun an approaching storm usually results in being caught in the fury while jeopardizing the safety of vessel and crew. A prudent captain will seek the closest safe harbor, albeit a protected cove or a boat dock.
On average, a summer storm is of short duration. Hunkering down in a cove for 15 minutes or so isn’t so bad, particularly if you’re wearing rain gear.
While riding out a storm when anchored, it’s best to pay out as much line as possible. The standard rule of thumb is seven times the depth of water.
If you’re anchored in 20 feet of water, there should be 140 feet of line between the boat and anchor chain. If that sounds like an overkill, try re-setting or getting your anchor to hold as your vessel drifts towards shore in a howling wind.
Other storm precautions are as follows:
• Lower antennas;
• Remove fishing rods from upright racks;
• Stow all gear in secure areas;
• Turn off electronic devices;
• Avoid touching electrical devices or metal;
• Close all hatches and ports;
• Ensure that all passengers are wearing lifejackets;
• Passengers should stay low and close to the center line of the boat;
• Pump out bilges before the storm hits; and
• Turn on running lights if underway or anchor light if moored.
Tips from Capt. Gus
“Any port in a storm” is more than a nautical saying. It is usually the safest course of action when a storm is headed your way.
Hot spots of the week
Bass are hitting on points and humps during the daylight hours and around lighted boat docks at night.
White perch weighing up to a pound are being caught on Sabiki rigs. q
Capt. Gus Gustafson, of Lake Norman Ventures, works as a full-time professional fishing guide. Details: 704-617-6812 or www.Fishingwithgus.com.