Two boaters who failed to return home yesterday from a trip in the Grand Lake area south of Lake Arthur were found today after a 12-hour search, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries reported.

Iota's Tyler Smith, 24, and 28-year-old Gus Atkinson of Gueydan, were found by search and rescue personnel at 9 a.m. this morning (Oct. 27) at Cypress Island in the northern section of Grand Lake.

The search began after the LDWF enforcement agents were told of the missing boaters about 9 p.m. yesterday. The agency coordinated the search with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Cameron Parish Sheriff's Office and the Vermilion Parish Sheriff's Office, the LDWF said.
The [pair of boaters had launched a 14-foot aluminum johnboat from the Highway 14 launch on Lake Arthur, and were fishing the "Catfish Locks" on Grand Lake by 1:30 p.m., the LDWF said.

Family members notified Smith and Atkinson of an area storm at 5 p.m., and the two men apparently headed back to the launch, the agency said. However, they seemingly encourntered heavy winds and waves that swamped their boat.

LDWF reported that they the men walked their boat to the shore, bailed out the water and got under way again. But when the 25-horsepower outboard stopped, they were unable to restart it.

The men lost communications and decided to drag the boat to the shore area at Cypress Island and wait until help arrived.

Family members notified authorities at 9 p.m. who searched until they found them this morning at 9 a.m.

"These men did a lot of right things to survive this ordeal. The most important thing they did was that they had a float plan by notifying family beforehand where they would be fishing and the family knew about what time they should be back," said Capt. Robert Buatt, who coordinated the search. "This float plan allowed the family to make a decision early on that they were missing and needed help. The men also were able to get the boat to an area that was less turbulent and safe once they knew they were not going to make it back to the launch."

LDWF will be the lead investigative agency for this boating incident.