WATCH: Video From Stranded Ice Anglers Floating Away From Duluth On Lake Superior
This is a pretty vivivd depiction of what today was like on Lake Superior for the ice anglers that found themselves floating away.
As someone that has been ice fishing since I was a young kid, I've always had a firm respect for ice. I know in the right conditions, it can be safe to drive a big truck onto it with a huge fish house. I also know that surprise weak spots or other hidden dangers can appear seemingly out of nowhere. I've never personally been ice fishing on Lake Superior. I've been in the harbor and on the river, but never on the big lake. The reason? I've always had a low-grade, underlying fear that the ice would break away and float off, being Lake Superior almost never freezes completely over.
Seeing the story unfold today on Lake Superior, those "what if" scenarios floated through my mind, and I tried to put myself in the shoes of the 26 people floating away from land. I thought, what happens to their gear? That stuff isn't cheap (less important than people's lives though, obviously). Not only are the stranded. Not only is it pretty darn cold and windy on a notoriously merciless body of water. What happens as the watery gap continues to grow between the ice they were on and the ice along the shore? Will the crews get everyone back in safely?
Thankfully, they retrieved everyone safely. Thank goodness the whole rescue went off without a hitch.
As I thought through the afternoon about what it might have been like being out there, or how I might have reacted, I painted what I felt was a pretty good picture based on previous life experiences. Then I saw the video below. Hearing the wind whip, knowing how cold it was out today made me shiver. Even though I have some cold weather gear I've put to some extreme tests. Part of that shiver is just the feeling of helplessness while standing on an iceberg with a -30 wind chill. Hearing the voices of the anglers quietly, and some subtly nervously talking among themselves snapped into much sharper focus those details that remained fuzzy earlier in the day as I thought about the situation as an observer.
There isn't a lot of talking in this video. Or a lot of action. Much of the footage is pointed at the ice, and not at people or anything in particular. But it does a pretty incredible job of showing just what it was like out on the ice late Tuesday morning. One thing really stood out from the video. At one point, a few of the fishermen were talking about the known risk of going on the ice, and how they thought the assumed the ice may have broken away if it did. They also discussed how they thought they would have time to get off the ice if it cracked away. One of them admitted how surprised they were by how quickly 50 yards of water was between them and the ice still attached to land. That gap continued to grow quickly during the rescue.
Among those 26 people (and the others that were able to escape to shore before the ice floated too far away), I am sure some of them may never venture out onto Lake Superior again in the winter. Others probably will. Nobody is necessarily right or wrong in whether they'd ever go back out again. Again, I'm just glad they're all safely ashore and the rescue efforts were completed without any major issues.
Here's a video that was initially livestreamed by one of the fishermen on the ice. Do be aware there is some NSFW language in the video from time to time.
On the note I mentioned earlier of gear left on the ice, a drone pilot flew out to the ice that broke away from mainland, capturing some of what was left behind as the anglers were rescued off the ice. Here is what they captured on video:
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