Lightning and Fishing, Not a Good Mix.
This is a True Story of fisherman Dave Grillmeier, in his own words.
As a bass fishing sportsman, I have had the delight of being able to fish in
many bass tournaments here in central Florida. I have always had fishing in
my blood, starting as a young child.
Fishing has always been more than a sport to me, it's been a way to relieve
stress brought on by our normal lives. My story starts on September 10th, a
Friday night, as my partner and I usually set out for evening of fishing at a
nearby lake. Both Brian (my partner) and I have been on the lake when the
normal thunderstorms move through the Orlando area. We both have always had a
deep respect for lightning and as with most sportsman, we know when it's best
to hit the barn and be safe.
Brian and I were at the lake that night only for about a half hour, when a
storm was moving closer to us. The sky's began to get that purple glow and a
mist of rain had started. I told Brian that we needed to stay close to my van
since that night we were fishing on the bank of a canal that fed the lake.
We both had made the comment that we didn't want to get fried like a fish.
As the storm got closer, so did the lightning. I told Brian it was time to
go, and I walked past him on my way back to the van to stow away my gear.
Brian being the die hard fisherman he is, just wanted one more cast. I
grabbed my graphite rod and walked back to the edge of the canal, also to get
one more cast before leaving. Just as I cast my worm to the other side of the
canal, lightning hit me.
As it happened, I knew what was going on, but could only think about my
family and kids at home.
I laid at the edge of the canal, waiting for Brian to come help me, which
seemed like forever.
The lake bordered the airport here in Orlando, and Brian started running to a
nearby hanger to call for help. I could only wait, as I couldn't feel my legs
and my arms wouldn't work. I was sure that I wouldn't make it out of the
field alive, the thoughts that run through your head are so unreal.
Help did come, and so did the storm. By the time the fire rescue showed up
the storm was in full force, lightning and thunder filled the sky's and it
was raining so hard you could not see the other side of the canal 20 feet
away. I remember even the fireman that night saying if they didn't get me out
soon, they would be the next victim. News that the hospital helicopter could
not make it to the site because of the weather made me realize the severity
of the situation.
I did make it to the hospital and spent 30 days in the intensive care burn
unit. My body covered with burns over 60 percent of my body. Anyone who has
ever been burned and has had to endure the scub rooms and the treatment given
to heal such severe burns can understand what I went through, as for others
who can only imagine.....you can't. I had two different sets of surgery and
skin grafts to repair the damage to my legs.
While in the hospital I was given the normal titles....FLASH.......SUPERMAN
and my wife's favorite SPARKY. Its OK with me, I call my self names too.
I'm now in physical therapy to help me regain use of my legs. I'm glad to say
I have made great progress during therapy.
The physical damage it's self is almost gone, but the mental damage will take
a longer period of time to overcome. I have now the need to inform as many
people as I can. I think I have learned a
lesson that doesn't need to be repeated.
All of us that have spent any amount of time on the water knows that sometime
no matter how bad the weather gets, we have fished in lightning and severe
I live next to a park that has a lake in it. This lake is controlled by the
Florida Fish and Game, they have field trips from schools to teach what it is
a game warden does, to maintain the quality of the lake and FISHING. They
also teach the catch and release ideas and allow the kids a few hours to fish
the lake (bait and gear supplied).
I have had the great pleasure to be able to attend these classes and share my
story. These kids are magnets for knowledge. You show them what lightning
does and explain the 30-30 rule, and they will remember it into their adult
years. These kids can hold my now real lightning rod and see the damage,
ask questions and get some answers first hand.
I have also made trips to both of my children's school during their Parents
They too walked home with a new understanding and appreciation for lightning.
You don't have to be on the lake to get hit from lightning. You can be in
your own yard, on a bike or the playground, it will still find you if you
don't follow simple rules like the 30-30 rule.
This rule states that if you see lightning and can hear the boom before the
count of 30, the next place that lightning could hit is right where your
standing. And don't go back outside until no lightning strikes for 30 min.
I hope you all keep this information in the back of your head, and next time
your on the water you'll think Is it worth one more cast.
Copyright © 1999 by Walt Reynolds