I would like to share an experience that I had some years ago while ice fishing on Mille Lacs Lake.
It all started on our second day on the ice. We had spent time drilling and checking ice depths on the first day. We had 5-6 inches of ice in the areas we wanted to fish on the eastside of the lake. This was a small reef area that we fish every year first ice. This area is really good before the resorts get the trucks on the ice and all the noise starts. We had a crack that we were crossing allowing us to get out to the outside of this reef.
Well thats where our trouble will start on the second day out.
This day I remember very well December 8th Vikings football Sunday. We planned to fish till just before noon and then head back to shore to watch the game. We had caught some nice walleye during our morning hours and I decided that I would head in and get things ready for the game.
I packed up my gear and headed into shore………only to make it to the CRACK that had been no problem the previous times on and off the lake. During the mid morning we had heard a loud crack and the wind was blowing at around 10-15 mph out of the SW. On this morning while we were busy catching walleye the lake had broke open to leave a crack in the lake large enough to have white caps in it!
Holy [censored], now what do I do……. I said to myself.
I have grown up fishing this lake and I was in a predicament that I had never been in before. I had around 50 feet of open water as far south and back to the north as I could see. I wheeled around and went back to warn the rest of our group. During the time it took for them to pack what gear they could get in a short period of time they were on their way also. I made it back to the crack ahead of the rest of the group only to see a piece of ice break off and start to drift towards shore. I made my move and jumped on this piece of ice about 20 X 20 feet in size. I left my Honda Big Red and only took my sled and the gear with me. The ice flow that we were on was drifting along at about 50 feet a minute…
Hook, his Dad and others finally got to the crack to find that I had made it across the open water, not knowing how I could have. I told them to head north as the ice had to be piling up on the northend somewhere. They finally did get across the crack about 3 miles north along the lake. On this day we left an 8×8 fish house, fish, and some gear not knowing what would happen with it? We were only looking to save our lives. One older gentleman that was with us will not go back on Mille Lacs after this experience.
I too have learned that you must always watch the lake for changing conditions.
I am writing this to let everyone know to be extra carefull when getting out on the ice this early ice fishing season.
You just never know when this could happen to you…
I hope that with me sharing this story it will help some else stay safe.