Hundreds of Russian Anglers Stranded on Runaway Ice Floe

More than 500 Russian anglers were rescued after the sheet of ice they were fishing on broke free and started drifting away.

Hundreds of Russian Anglers Stranded on Runaway Ice Floe

Photo courtesy of Russian Emergency Situations Ministry press service via AP.

Whether you're a seasoned pro, a greenhorn or just tagging along for the fun of it, anytime you venture onto a frozen body of water, it's your responsibility to know the ice will safely support your weight. Now add to that, you should also make sure the ice you're on will still be connected to shore when you want to be done fishing for the day. A huge group of Russian anglers learned that lesson the hard way.

According to the Russia Emergency Situations Ministry, it happened yesterday near the island of Sakhalin in eastern Siberia. Despite multiple warnings of unsafe ice conditions, 563 anglers became unwilling seaward voyagers as the sheet of ice they were on broke free and left open water between them and safety. 

The rescue took seven hours and required three boats, a hovercraft and 20 rescuers. Some of the anglers took rescue into their own hands and paddled smaller ice chunks across the open water back to safety. 

Two Russian anglers who were previously stranded on a large sheet of ice chose to paddle a smaller sheet of ice to safety. Photo courtesy of Russian Emergency Situations Ministry press service via AP.
Two Russian anglers who were previously stranded on a large sheet of ice chose to paddle a smaller sheet of ice to safety. Photo courtesy of Russian Emergency Situations Ministry press service via AP.

Though more than 500 anglers were initially stranded, all were eventually rescued and no injuries were reported. Though, as an ice fisherman myself, I find it hard to sympathize with these individuals. Not only did they ignore the warnings of unsafe ice conditions, less than a week earlier around 300 other people were stranded on another ice floe nearby. I wonder if any of the original 300 were part of the more recent 563. 

Unfortunately, getting stranded on float-away ice isn't just a foreign problem. Living near a large, popular body of water known as Green Bay, it seems almost every year I hear about a group of anglers who venture too far from shore and before they know it, they're ice trolling. I have heard rumors that the first rescue is free and if you're foolish enough to get stranded a second time, you'll need to pay for the rescue. I did some digging and contacted the Brown County Sheriff's Department, an agency often involved in rescuing anglers trapped on Green Bay, and they said there was no charge for rescues for safety purposes. However, they will only bring the anglers back to shore, so their vehicles, ice shacks and any of their gear stays on the ice, and they may be charged by recovery companies to retrieve those items. 

Photo courtesy of Russian Emergency Situations Ministry press service via AP.
Photo courtesy of Russian Emergency Situations Ministry press service via AP.
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