'Probability of survival is low,' say RCMP of search for missing fishermen on Great Slave Lake

Following the fourth day of searching for four missing commercial fishermen on Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories, RCMP say 'all viable search options have been exhausted.'

Stacy Linington and 3 other men have been missing since Sunday

RCMP now say the hope for survival of four fishermen missing since Sunday is low. In this undated photo, the F.P.V. Reliance is on patrol on Great Slave Lake. (RCMP)

RCMP say they have exhausted search efforts for four fishermen missing on Great Slave Lake, after four days of extensive aerial and marine searches.

In a news release late Thursday, RCMP said "fishing debris" believed to be from their submerged boat was found in open water, but there's been no sight of the missing men.

The boat had been found on Tuesday.

"At this time, it is believed that all viable search options have been exhausted," states RCMP spokesperson Julie Plourde in the release.

"With information to date, the probability of survival is low."

Stacy Linington, 59, from Hay River, N.W.T., and Daniel Courtoreille, 51, Michael Courtoreille, 50, and Jason Fulton, 40, all from the Lesser Slave Lake area in central Alberta, did not return to shore in Hay River as expected Sunday evening after they went out to check their nets. 

On Monday morning, after the men were reported missing, a search began that included the RCMP, the Canadian Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Yellowknife's 440 Air Squadron and the Joint Rescue Co-Ordination Centre in Trenton, Ont.

"Our hearts are with the families as we draw to the close of day four," Sgt. Brandon Humbke stated in the release. "We will continue to support them in this difficult time."

Hope in Hay River

Beatrice Lepine has been lending a hand at the Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre in Hay River. The community opened the doors to support family members and friends of the missing, as well as those involved in the search.

Lepine knows Linington, one of the missing men. She said even the men who are not from Hay River are well-known around the small community of about 3,500.

"Even though three of them didn't live here, they came in the summertime to fish," Lepine said. "We got to know them … around town, at the grocery store."

"I think mostly people are in a state of shock, just doing what needs to be done…. Just holding out hope that the men made it ashore before their boat sank," she said.

Lepine said donations and support have flowed into the centre from near and far, including from the nearby K'atl'odeeche First Nation and the North Peace Tribal Council in High Level, Alta.