Fisherman recounts ice rescue in Beltrami Co. that trapped 35 people

A weekend of ice fishing took a turn for the worse at a popular spot in Beltrami County on Sunday.

Around 4:45 p.m., strong winds broke a sheet of ice off from the shore of Upper Red Lake, dozens of anglers watched the shoreline slip away.

"The weather kind of turned," fisherman Dale Mord told FOX 9 on Monday. "There’s not a whole lot you can do, you just say, oh well, looks like we’ve got to find some help, or wait. We were prepared to stay out there all night if we had to. It was about 20 feet of open water, and obviously it just got worse and worse."

His group was stranded on the ice for more than four hours, as the wind blew them farther away from the shore, and into the middle of Upper Red Lake. Eventually first responders were able to rescue more than 30 people with an airboat.

"Everything went right this time, but things could go a lot worse," DNR ice safety coordinator Nicole Biagi commented. "Luckily, nobody ended up in the water, because that could result in hypothermia and drowning."

Biagi believes the ice on Red Lake’s shore is 10 inches in some spots. However, because of open water at the lake’s center, strong winds are enough to break the ice and create a lot of problems for anglers.

"Early in the season, this isn’t an uncommon event at Upper Red Lake," Biagi said. "We do see it from year to year, so we saw it last year, and I think we saw it back in 2019."

"We were still fishing. We were having a ball… everybody was just kind of like alright, who’s got the beer? Who’s got this? Who’s got that?" Mord said. "Kind of like in the south when they have hurricane parties is kind of what was happening."