No one really knows what happened, but a week later it still causes a weird feeling in the gut of my fishing buddies and me—selfishly, I think many of us think to ourselves, "that could have been me." As a guy that has fished a couple thousand days on the Great Lakes, I can assure you it's not if you get yourself in a pickle, but when.
I'm certainly not offering any insight as to what could have been done to prevent this tragedy—especially since none of us really know what happened—but there are a few things er need be mindful of.
Having life jackets that can be reached instantly is far better than storing them at the bottom of a rod locker—most of us are guilty on this one. I installed a cargo net below my passenger console that allows me to keep three life jackets at the ready, and as a bonus it frees up a lot of storage space.
I was out the same day when that tragedy took place and found there to be giant dead logs floating or slightly submerged everywhere. Pair this with barely above freezing water and you have a recipe for a bad situation. When this is the case make sure the rest of the crew is helping keeping an eye on the water when moving from spot to spot and fight the urge to run wide open. At this point nothing will bring these anglers back, but it would be another tragedy for those in the boating and fishing fraternity to not learn from it and exercise more caution each and every time we head out.
Think about it.
Capt. Ross Robertson