Ice fishermen stranded on Lake Erie

Posted By on February 7, 2009

Lake Erie Rescue

I grew up in a commercial fishing and cottage community on Lake Erie just east from the Crane Creek State Park (label on the map below) and fondly remember ice fishing every winter. As a family we enjoyed recreation on the frozen lake from playing hockey to  fishing, ice boating and snowmobiling.  It was a big part of  my youth and my brother.

MapOn Saturday, the memories of thawing ice came racing back as I watched a rescue of a few ice fisherman off the lake not far from my old house. The strong wind and warming temperatures helped to break the ice from shore and stranded as many as 500 fishermen about 1000 yards offshore. Most made it back to shore on their own, but several required rescue. Unfortunately a couple ended up in the frigid water and one who was flown to the hospital died. By Saturday evening the Coast Guard reported that after rescuig 134 people that everyone was off the lake.


  • Talked to my Mom today and she asked if I heard about the fisherman on the ice? Then she proceeded to tell me that my brother headed up to go ice fishing at that exact spot, but decided to opt for the more protected areas … with few fish.

  • Figure I would include this:

    Feb 8, 10:18 PM EST

    A day after 134 fishermen rescued from Lake Erie ice floe, some venture back out
    AP Photo
    Watch Related Video

    Ice Rescue Sheriffs Discuss Fines for Fishers
    Watch Related Video

    Official: 1 Dead, 134 Rescued From Lake Erie Ice
    Buy AP Photo Reprints

    Your Questions Answered
    AP answers your questions on the news, from infecting mosquitoes to Obama’s Senate staff

    Audio Slideshow
    Trapped Fishermen

    PORT CLINTON, Ohio (AP) — Many of the 134 fishermen rescued from Lake Erie ice returned to the miles-long floe Sunday using rented air boats to retrieve left-behind snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles and other equipment. A few ventured onto the risky ice to fish for walleye.

    About 300 fishermen were stationed on stable ice not far from where the crack had opened Saturday, stranding the anglers about 1,000 yards from the Ohio shoreline.

    “(The ice) is an honest 14 inches,” veteran fisherman Pat Chrysler of Put-In-Bay told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer in a telephone interview Sunday from South Bass Island. “I measured it with a Stanley tape measure, just to be accurate.”

    A Coast Guard helicopter surveyed how much abandoned equipment remained on the ice, but fishermen were responsible for recovering their own belongings, said Petty Officer William Mitchell, a Coast Guard spokesman.

    “You’d have to be crazy to do that,” he said of those who were fishing Sunday. “That’s good to know that they’re heeding the warnings, you know. I would definitely not recommend that at all, especially after what just happened. You know it’s even warmer today.”

    Officials said some of the stranded anglers watched from solid ice while private contractors hauled all-terrain vehicles and other equipment off the ice.

    A number of officials said the previous day’s rescue went smoothly partly because agencies have trained together. But Coast Guard and local law enforcement officials said they would like to develop ways to stop people from ice fishing during dangerous conditions.

    Many more people might have been stranded Saturday if veteran fishermen hadn’t heeded weather warnings about warming temperatures and strong winds, fishing guide Pat Chrysler said.

    Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton called for authorities to reconsider when civil penalties are assessed. Under current policies, a fisherman’s name is recorded the first time he’s rescued. The second strike leads to an ice safety class, and the third can result in civil action and fines.

    Bratton said he wants to respect ice fishing culture while finding a way to recoup the county’s financial losses and step up regulation.

    Bratton estimated the cost of the response at $20,000 but said the rescued anglers wouldn’t have to cover it.

    “We’re not looking to send you a bill at this point,” said Harold Stanton, the fire chief in Lucas County’s Jerusalem Township. “We’re not looking to arrest you.”

    One fisherman died Saturday of an apparent heart attack. He had fallen into the water while trying to find a route to land and collapsed after being pulled back to solid ice.

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.