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Swept into Lake Superior, angler rescued

Rescue workers place a fisherman in an ambulance after he was rescued from Lake Superior on Wednesday. The man was fishing at the mouth of the Lester River when he was swept away.

A fisherman was pulled out of Lake Superior on Wednesday after being swept into the lake by river currents.

Witnesses said the man was standing in the Lester River when he got caught up in the current. Other anglers tried to rescue the man as he washed into the lake, then two men in a boat rushed out and pulled him back to shore, where Fire Department rescuers took over.

North Shore anglers at this time of year are fishing for steelhead and Kamloops rainbow trout, which soon will be entering rivers on their spawning runs. With rivers running high, it's best to stay away from the current, even in shallow water, said Ross Pearson, an avid shore fisherman from Duluth.

"Stay out of the fast water," Pearson said. "It's that situation where it doesn't have to be very deep. It's so strong, it can knock you right over, and once you lose your footing, you're going to tumble. Like the Lester now, it'll take you out and you can't get back. It'll fill your waders, and you'll go down."

The man rescued Wednesday was in the middle of the river at the mouth "and the current just caught him and swept him out," said Shane Lindemoen of

St. Paul.

Lindemoen and two others tried pushing a log out to the man, but the current pushed it back to shore. Lindemoen said he and another man debated going into the water to reach the man but decided not to.

"It's way too cold," Lindemoen said. "I'm surprised the guy was able to keep his head up without a life jacket."

Megan Gagner said she and her husband were out on a walk when they got a picture of two men in a private boat rushing out to save the fisherman while Fire Department rescuers waited on shore.

The Fire Department rescuers were from the city's No. 6 Engine, which is located only 10 blocks away, but still didn't arrive a moment too soon.

"He was out too deep and couldn't move and was getting swept out," said Assistant Fire Chief Erik Simonson. "It was real close to being too late."

The water is cold enough this time of year that hypothermia can set in rapidly, Simonson said, impairing both movement and judgment.

People in or around water should wear a life jacket, he said, and if swept into the current, should swim parallel to the shore to get out of fast-moving water.

The man was transported to a local hospital by Gold Cross Ambulance. His name was not available Wednesday evening.

News Tribune staff writer Sam Cook contributed to this report.