Sask. fishermen go 'part MacGyver, part Red Green' to retrieve sunken cellphone

Two avid Saskatchewan fishermen went to extremes to save a cellphone that had taken an icy plunge.

Pair goes to great depths to get back irreplaceable photos

Jason Matity (left) and Luc Lemoine spent hours trying to fish out Lemoine's cell phone from the bottom of a lake. (CBC News)

Two avid Saskatchewan fishermen went to extremes to save a cellphone that had taken an icy plunge.

Their ordeal started when Luc Lemoine (who is a CBC employee) was ice fishing with his daughter Emily and his pal Jason Matity on Last Mountain Lake north of Regina.

Matity has a fishing show called This meant the group had underwater cameras with them.

Retrieving Luc Lemoine's cell phone with a contraption made up of pipes and ladles. (Photo courtesy Jason Matity)

Lemoine was leaning over the ice hole with his phone in a breast pocket.

"It was on my chest and I bent over to adjust something in the ice hole and it went right in without even hitting the edge," he said.

The phone was easily replaceable, but the photos stored on the SD card were not.

"My dad passed away in June and I'd gone to see him in May and we'd taken some photos together," Lemoine said. "I wanted those photos back because there was no way I could replace them. And stupid me I hadn't done a backup."

Underwater cameras help rescue cell phone from Sask. lake

4 years ago
Duration 1:03
Jason Matity and Luc Lemoine were recently out ice fishing when - "plop" - Luc's phone took a trip the bottom of the lake.

With their cameras they could see the phone sitting on the bottom of the murky lake about nine metres down.

"(The phone) was a leather case, so you thought if you could get a hook in there, you might be able to just snag it," said Matity. "But all we did was kept stirring up mud and muck."

After a couple of hours fishing in vain the two friends went home to make a rescue plan.

A couple of days later they were back at the lake with 25 metres of plumbing pipe and two giant ladles.

"We were definitely part MacGyver, part Red Green because we were using a lot of duct tape," Lemoine said.

They had taped a camera to the pipe. When they lowered it into the lake they found a curious observer.

Luc Lemoine's cell phone after being brought up from the bottom of the lake. (Photo courtesy Jason Matity)

"There's a perch just staring right into the camera going, 'Hmm you guys aren't going to catch me today because you've got other work to do,' " Matity said.

The rescue mission did not start well. Their early attempts at scooping up the phone ended up burying it in the silt.

It took them six hours, but they were finally able to retrieve the phone.

"The feeling of success was as good as catching any fish I've caught before," Matity laughed.

They still didn't know what they could salvage from their mission.

A photo of Luc Lemoine's father retrieved from his cell phone that spent days under water. (Photo courtesy Jason Matity)

Lemoine put the SD card in a bucket of rice and waited fretfully for six days before putting the SD card into his new phone.

"I fired it up and right away the phone recognized it had an SD card in it," he said. "I went and looked for my folders and there they were.I had all of my pictures back. 

The first thing he did was backup his photos. 

Matity pointed out another benefit of the mission.

"We have a lovely how-to video of how you get your phone back out of deep water," he said.

Have you gone to great lengths to get back something you've lost or return something you've found? Share your story with CBC's Blue Sky. E-mail or call into the Friday phone-in 1-800-716-2221.

Files from Bonnie Allen and The Morning Edition


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