200 Minnesota Ice Fishermen Rescued After Ice Broke Away On Upper Red Lake

ice fishing MN
Beltrami County Sheriff

Talk about escaping near death.

According to Outdoor Life, a chunk of ice broke on Minnesota’s Upper Red Lake while tons of men and women were ice fishing on the lake, sending around 200 people in harms way.

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Department began receiving calls around 11:34 AM from a number of distressed anglers, about an ice chunk that was drifting away from shore on the southeastern part of the lake.

Once emergency responders made it to the scene, there was around 30 yards between the chunk of ice and dry land.

Responders used drones to take a look at the situation, and Beltrami County Emergency Management used an emergency alert system to send a message to all of the anglers who were stranded on the ice.

The nearby ice fishing resort, JR’s Corner Access, sent out an ice bridge that was long enough to send all of the stranded anglers to safety by 2:37 PM.

Kelliher Fire and Rescue chief Rick Thayer stated that Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers airboated around a dozen anglers on the easternmost part of the sheet of ice to safety.

He told the outlet:

“Any time during early ice season, changes in weather conditions can change fishing conditions very quickly, and it’s happened quite frequently the last few years with that body of water.

Typically when the wind switches to the south like it did yesterday, it tends to push the ice away from itself because there are still open spots of water out in the middle of the lake.”

JR’s Corner Access says they try to stay prepared for situations like this:

“Part of our job is monitoring and looking at cracks and watching the [ice] and making sure we have bridges ready when needed.”

Needless to say, the anglers who faced near disaster were very relieved, including Andy LaBarge and Lydia Thole, who actually got engaged while out on the ice.

Thole recalled:

“Andy had tied my ring on a lure and put it on my bobber line and I came back in and he’s like ‘Oh you got a fish.’ So I reel it up and he’s on a knee, and I said ‘Oh my god!’”

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office was sure to remind everybody to stay alert while ice fishing:

“[We remind] those who are thinking of heading on the ice that early season ice is very unpredictable. Extreme caution should be used when heading on the ice and to check the thickness frequently to ensure an adequate amount of ice.”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock