The piece of ice a group of fishermen had been standing on had begun splitting from the bay’s main shoreline

The piece of ice a group of fishermen had been standing on had begun splitting from the bay’s main shoreline, leaving dozens of people stranded on an ice shove, the Brown County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.  

Saturday was supposed to be Shane Nelson and Robert Verhagen's first time ice fishing.

But the men never got a chance to put their fishing gear to use and test the waters of Green Bay, Wis., the pair told WLUK.

Shortly after 10 a.m., the men exited their ice shanty after hearing some commotion, Nelson told the TV station.

"The ice is separating!" some people standing on the ice yelled.

The statement was far from an exaggeration.

The piece of ice near Point Comfort - along the east shore of Green Bay, which leads out to Lake Michigan - had begun to split from the main shoreline, leaving more than two dozen people stranded, the Brown County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Nelson and Verhagen's fishing gear drifted off with it.

It took authorities aboard ice rescue boats nearly an hour and a half and several trips to rescue at least 27 fishermen who were stuck. The ice block drifted farther from the shore with each trip, Lt. John Bain, with the Brown County Sheriff's Office, said at a news conference.

"I heard reports that the ice had drifted out approximately 2,000 feet from where they originally were," Bain said.

The Coast Guard, New Franken and Green Bay fire departments, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources also assisted in the rescue operation. No injuries were reported.

Coast Guard personnel in Green Bay have issued warnings on social media this month reminding people in the area that ice is never 100 percent safe.

Authorities told WBAY that ice rescues on the northeast side of the bay occur about once a year. In December 2018, 14 people were rescued from an ice sheet that separated in the same body of water.

On Saturday, a little before 1 p.m., authorities announced at least 27 people had been brought safely to shore.

Bain said a passing barge and a change of current may have weakened the ice.

"The current and the winds, things can change fast, and you're not always aware that they are changing," he said during the news conference.

By the end of the rescue, the sheriff's office said, the floating chunk of ice was about a mile from the shore, having traveled three-quarters of a mile.

Nelson and Verhagen got their fishing gear back once everyone was brought to shore.

Asked to describe the day, Nelson told WLUK it didn't go as planned.

"Didn't catch any fish, ran out of propane early and got stranded on the ice," he said, laughing.