I never met Jim Hudson. He's based in the Midwest and I'm out here in the Northeast and our paths just never crossed. But if I dig back into past issues of New York Outdoor News, chances are his picture is in there somewhere, holding up a big walleye, or pike, or lake trout he had just pulled through a hole in the ice.
Ice fishing was a huge part of Jim Hudson's life. He operated Hudson's On-the-Spot Guide Service on the western shore of Lake Superior and was generally regarded as one of the finest hard water anglers anywhere, a pro angler with the well-known Ice Team and an outdoor communicator through writings and TheNextBiteTV.
So when I learned that Jim had died in a tragic ice fishing accident on his home water of Lake Superior, in an area he knew intimately, I was stunned. This guy was a pro, fishing on his home turf when his snowmobile plunged through the ice in an area generally known for its sometimes sketchy ice conditions. A fellow angler – wearing a flotation suit that likely saved his life – tried to rescue Jim but was unsuccessful.
Each winter I write stories of anglers falling through ice. Not all of them have happy endings. And virtually all of the incidents were preventable.
I think now of how cautious Paula is when heading out on the ice with me, how she hounds me to have my ice picks around my neck and handy, just in case. How we should always have a rope handy. How can I not heed those warnings now? Jim Hudson is dead, and this was a guy who knew what he was doing. He was a pro, and a guide who was as safety-conscious as they come, from everything I've heard about this popular guy, a former cop whose death has rocked the hard water world and beyond.
I don't think, from everything I've heard about Jim Hudson since his passing, that Jim would want us all to stay home. He'd want us out there fishing, enjoying it as much as he did. But safely.
I think Jim Hudson would want his death to be a wakeup call for all ice anglers, especially those who think they know the water like the back of their hand. I think he'd want this to be the last time a story like this had this kind of ending.
To read Tim Lesmeister's blog about Jim Hudson, click here.
Dean Bortz, our Wisconsin Outdoor News Edtior, wrote about Jim Hudson here.