Orange County Sheriff rescues stranded fishermen

Sheriff pilots airboat during 2013 apprehension of accused carjackers

Orange County Sheriff Keith Merritt reportedly rescued two fishermen over the weekend after they got stuck in muddy marsh and became stranded while they were preparing for the Elite Series Bass Tournament coming to Orange in March, reports the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

According to a news release, dispatchers received a distress call from one of the stranded men at 3:18 on Feb. 14. The caller explained he and his fishing partner had come from Minnesota to prepare for the upcoming tournament. He told deputies they left the main river channel to get to a location he saw on Google Maps, but got their bass boat stuck on a mud flat, compounded further by the outgoing tide, resulting in the men being stranded.

The OCSO dispatcher called Sheriff Merritt, who spoke with the fishermen by phone and decided that an airboat would be necessary to reach the pair. According to news release, their boat was approximately one mile from the main river channel in an area south of Interstate 10. The men were reportedly concerned about getting stuck at a late hour and remaining in the waterway overnight.

Sheriff Merritt located the fishermen deep in the marsh and was able to hook onto the big bass boat to pull them to the main channel. The effort took about 2 hours with the airboat struggling to pull the heavy bass boat, according to OCSO.

"Needless to say the boaters were extremely grateful, and had a very muddy bass boat to clean afterwards,"  OCSO reports.