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Launch Anglers Rescue Bear Struggling In Lake Mille Lacs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Lake Mille Lacs is a hotspot for catching walleyes this time of year. But customers caught something they weren't expecting during Monday's launch trip at Twin Pines resort – a struggling black bear.

On Monday, Twin Pines launch captain Mark Eno spotted something in the water about two miles from the nearest shore.

"We got up close to him and saw him swimming," Eno said.

Eno and his customers couldn't believe their eyes. It indeed was a black bear that appeared to be struggling for direction and trying to stay afloat.

"He was just swimming around us for 45 minutes, he had no idea where to go," Eno said.

The sighting happened near the end of the fishing trip, so Eno headed back to port and jumped into a smaller, more maneuverable boat. Along with two boys from Chicago and an employee from St. Louis, the four young men headed back onto the lake, determined to find the swimming bear and help direct the animal to shore.

"We were just surprised how big it was. Actually, it was swimming pretty slow," Matthew Kopf said.

To Kopf and his brother, Michael, both from Chicago, bears belong on a football field and not swimming in a lake. So, with their cell phones, they documented the rescue with photographs and videos.

To help direct the wayward bear to shore, the group tossed a life ring attached to a rope in the bears direction to help guide it to safety.

"After being with him for four hours, we had that connection with him of keeping him alive, keep him going and stuff," Eno said.

The mature black bear kept swimming all the way to Pike Point, just south of Garrison.

Appearing very tired and barely able to keep its head above water, it made it to land. That's where it scampered up a wooded hillside and collapsed in a tall tree.

"I just felt so happy that the bear just went up there and that he was still alive," Michael Kopf said.

It makd for one fish tale these anglers will never forget!

To see more of the bear rescue Twin Pines Resort has posted video on its website.

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