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Anglers rescued when ice splits on Upper Red Lake

Wind opens crack on big Minnesota lake, leaving fishermen stranded

crack on Red Lake two.jpg
Rescuers help stranded ice anglers off Upper Red Lake in northern Minnesota on Tuesday, Nov. 12. Zach Werner / Facebook

UPPER RED LAKE, Minn. —Anglers needed to be rescued from Upper Red Lake in northern Minnesota on Tuesday after wind caused a large crack in the ice, stranding fishermen who ventured onto the frozen lake in search of walleyes.

A Facebook post by Zach Werner on the Ice Fishing Minnesota page shared several photographs that showed a rescue crew using an inflatable raft to move anglers across open water.

A spokesperson for the Beltrami County Sheriff's Department confirmed an ice rescue was taking place as of 4 p.m., but couldn't provide any further details.

Upper Red Lake, north of Bemidji, is a popular destination for walleye fishermen. There are resorts on the northeast portion of the lake that allow access to the lake.

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Werner indicated there was about 8 inches of ice on the lake, normally a safe amount for anglers to walk on. But Werner wrote that a strong wind came up and caused the ice to crack, leaving anglers stranded.

The sheriff's office spokesperson said the rescue began at about 2:20 p.m.

Last week the sheriff's department posted a warning about the dangers of early ice fishing on its Facebook page.

"Ice has been forming on Beltrami County lakes and as tempting as it so head on our and check the bite... please use common sense. A minimum of four inches of clear good ice is recommended for walking on the ice... it is very early to head out on area lakes," the post read.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website says that while no ice should ever be considered 100 percent safe, 4 inches of new, clear is the minimum recommended depth for foot traffic; 5-7 inches is snowmobiles; 8-12 inches for a small car; and 12-15 inches and more for a pickup.

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This is a developing story. Check back to InForum for updates.

Related Topics: FISHING
Mike McFeely is a columnist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He began working for The Forum in the 1980s while he was a student studying journalism at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He's been with The Forum full time since 1990, minus a six-year hiatus when he hosted a local radio talk-show.
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