Mille Lacs County – Isle man and Mille Lacs fishing legend Richard Francis Gadbois was pronounced dead on Friday, January 12th, after his SUV broke through the ice on Mille Lacs Lake.
A caller contacting the County Sheriff’s Office had told dispatchers that a man wearing a flotation device was seen in the water where the truck had gone through.
The authorities’ report states that the same caller was able to recover the man’s body and bring him to the shore.
Gadbois was then rushed to the Mille Lacs Health System Hospital, where, tragically, the medical staff was unable to revive him.
Richard Francis Gadbois was 80 years old. He was a local legend and a very popular character in both his community and the wider fishing sphere, and his name was linked with Mille Lacs and fishing for a very long time.
The Mille Lacs Lake and MN fishing and ice fishing communities are in shock today, and Dickie will be dearly missed, as so many anglers knew or had heard of him.
I scanned the latest ice fishing news this morning, and the story caught my attention immediately, as I had been researching a possible Mille Lacs ice fishing vacation next winter.
Dickie’s fishing charters and ice house rentals were among the many addresses and contacts I had checked out.
I started to read reports and stories about Dickie and his particular way of communicating with and helping other anglers.
He seemed to be one of those people who make a fishing destination really special, and the (fishing) world needs people like that!
Naturally, I was very surprised and saddened by this news as well when I came across it online today.
Dickie had been on Mille Lacs Lake for over 40 years and, I can imagine, has touched the hearts of so many people during that time.
Losing a person and character like this in such a tragic and swift way is something truly traumatic, and I would like to send my condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and anyone who knew him.
Sketchy Ice Conditions on Mille Lacs Lake
I would also like to mention and stress the importance of ice safety. Especially during such an up-and-down winter like this one!
The Mille Lacs County authorities have warned that ice conditions are unsafe for vehicle traffic across the state due to the fairly warm temperatures and rainy conditions that have plagued this winter so far.
There is always a lot of vehicle traffic on Mille Lacs, and many of you are eager to get out on the ice and go fishing.
But please be extremely careful and do not take any risks! It’s not worth risking your health or losing your life, as Dickie’s accident has so tragically shown us.
No ice, no matter how thick it may be, can be considered entirely safe ice, and the ice’s thickness and solidity can vary quite a bit, especially on a giant water body like Mille Lacs!
Be careful always, and if conditions aren’t looking good, please choose to stay home. Be patient!
There will be thicker ice at some point; if not, you can always wait for the start of the open water season.
I know it stings, but at least you’ll still be around, right?
RELATED ARTICLE: How to Stay Safe Ice Fishing
Lastly, I would like to mention Dickie’s on Mille Lacs, which, as mentioned above, was Dickie’s own fishing charter and ice house rental service on Whistle Road in Isle (MN).
Once again, my condolences go out to his colleagues and friends there. Receiving a call like this from the authorities must have been an absolute nightmare for them!
If you are planning to rent an ice house on Mille Lacs this winter (given that conditions will be better in the coming weeks and months) or would like to book a charter tour on the lake come summer, please consider giving Dickie’s on Mille Lacs a call.
Based on their reviews and the countless stories and reports I’ve read online, they have a really good thing going, and they always put their customers first.
My hope is that the business will continue to thrive even without Dickie around and that the staff can, in time, move on.
Losing a dear family member, friend, or colleague is always devastating, and only time will take away some of the pain. Sometimes!
I wish you all a pleasant and calm weekend. And remember to stay safe out there!
Featured image courtesy of McQuoid’s Inn and Event Center