Warm temperatures and high winds mean that ice fishermen should be very cautious. At least 50 anglers were stranded on Minnesota’s Upper Red Lake last month after the ice cracked and was blown away from shore by strong winds. According to the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, the anglers were able to find a path back to shore with the assistance of rescue personnel, who also retrieved the vehicles and belongings left behind on the floating ice.

“Now I don’t think I’ll ever go early-ice ice fishing again,” Chris Hachey, one of the anglers involved, told the Duluth News Tribune. “We had no idea there was any open water out there.”

Hachey said he first noticed the ice shifting when he realized his lines were at an angle.

“I thought that was odd because Red Lake doesn’t have any current. Then we looked toward shore and we could see the big crack opening up,” he said.

Chris Fruedenberg, who co-owns the nearby Rogers’ Resort, said the cracks had first opened days before but had closed. Wooden bridges were built over them as a precaution.

“This is pretty extreme,” Fruedenberg told the Pioneer Press, adding that it was the worst ice-related event the resort has seen since 2005.

Rescue personnel came from the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Bemidji Fire Department, Kelliher Fire & Rescue, and the resort itself. Fruendenberg noticed that afterwards, one of the bridges that the resort built on the ice had drifted nearly a mile away. None of the anglers were injured.

Officials warn anglers that in the event of strong winds, even thick ice can be blown out to open water.

“While there may be a ‘safe’ 5-6 inches of ice to walk on, it doesn’t do much good when it starts floating across the lake,” stated the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office.

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