Editor’s note: Robert has been a little preoccupied with work-related matters, so we present this column from a few years back.
Rain, rain, go away. I’m sure more than a few of you have been muttering that little phrase under your breath this past week. But rain is one of those annoying realities of being a Southwest Florida angler. Having strategies to deal with it is much better than simply trying to wish it away.
When you’re planning a Saturday morning trip and the weatherman on Friday night says there’s an 80 percent chance of rain, what are you going to do? You could cancel your trip and get some stuff checked off the honey-do list, or you could try to work around it.
Don’t buy everything the weatherman is selling. He’s not paid based on how often he’s right. Do some looking around on your own. Download some weather apps that show radar images and predict wind speeds. Look at long-term weather trends, not just a 12- or 24-hour forecast. Be your own meteorologist.
I don’t call a trip until it’s supposed to start. If we’re fishing at 8 a.m. Friday, never mind what the forecast is at 6 p.m. Thursday. When Friday morning rolls around, then we’ll take a look and make our decision.
If we’re going out on an iffy day, precautions are well-advised. Keep an eye on the radar, but don’t forget to watch the sky — not just every now and then, but pretty much constantly. It kills me when people pay so much attention to the radar that they never look up. It’s like those dopus drivers who are so busy listening to their GPS that they don’t realize they’re driving into a lake. Common sense, please.
When there are storms around or it’s likely they’ll be popping up, I start at the farthest point I’d planned to fish and work my way toward port. That way, if I have to run for it I don’t have to run as far. I also stay within sight of shore. The farther out to sea you are, the longer it takes to get back.
Make a plan for what you’ll do if a storm cuts between you and 爱购彩票官网. You could run to a local marina and wait it out while you’re having lunch. You could run the long way around (in the Gulf, this sometimes means coming back in through a different pass than the one you came out).
You also need a plan in case a storm does overtake you. Near shore, you might hide out under a bridge or among the mangroves. If you’re running through it, keep your head on a swivel — especially as the weather gets worse and visibility drops. If you’re only looking straight ahead, you’ll never see that other guy who’s also running from the storm (and is probably also only looking straight ahead).
Out in open water, you may have no choice but to ride it out. If the storm blows up a higher sea, it’s probably advisable to put out an anchor and keep the bow into the wind. Remember, you’ll want at least a 4:1 ratio of anchor rode to depth, and 7:1 is recommended (in 30 feet of water, that means 210 feet of line).
Now I don’t know about you, but I’m not made of sugar or salt. A little water isn’t going to melt me. Lightning, on the other hand — that’s nothing to monkey around with. Bolts can strike from a long way out. The general rule is that if you can hear the thunder, you’re in range of the lightning.
Strict adherence to this rule would mean no boating at all on summer afternoons. Naturally, that’s not exactly realistic. But it’s important that you be aware of lightning strikes nearby, and be ready to run to port if it’s getting threatening. Lightning kills people, and no fish is worth your life. At least, no fish is worth my life.
Lightning tends to hit high points, so take the rods out of the holders and lay them on the deck. Towers and T-tops increase the risk, so bear that in mind. Radio antennas are also vulnerable.
After the rain passes, you might be a little damp. If you had remembered to put on rain gear, you’d probably be drier. Even with rain gear, it’s never a bad plan to have a spare set of clothes in a dry bag. Did you know you can get hypothermia in summer in Florida? You’ll feel really silly about that one, especially if someone has to call 911 for you. Stay dry, or get dry afterward.
Dealing with rain is an inevitable part of fishing, and especially fishing here. Make a plan and be ready to implement it, and a bit of water from the sky doesn’t have to ruin your day. Stay safe out there.
Robert Lugiewicz is the manager of Fishin’ Frank’s Bait & Tackle, located at 4425-D Tamiami Trail in Charlotte Harbor, and a co-host of Radio WaterLine every Saturday from 7 to 9 a.m. on KIX 92.9 FM. Call 941-625-3888 for more information about the shop or for local fishing tips, or visit them online at .