Photos provided Blake Buck schemed with a scuba diver friend to give his girlfriend, Kellie O’Leary, the proposal of a lifetime on the ice of Otter Tail Lake Saturday. Right: The ugly fish Kellie O’Leary pulled from the icy water was “kind of scary looking,” until she saw the ring.

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She caught a fiance [UPDATED]

Published 11:14am Friday, February 17, 2012 Updated 11:14am Friday, February 17, 2012

Kellie O’Leary, a Wahpeton woman, reeled in the proposal of a lifetime when she pulled up a fish from the icy waters of Otter Tail Lake Saturday.

Her boyfriend, Blake Buck, in cahoots with his pal, Mike Metzger, a scuba diver, concocted an elaborate plan in which Kellie would reel in a fish, with an engagement ring attached, allowing Blake the perfect chance to propose marriage.

The two hatched the scheme while working long hours at Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative during the beet harvest in October.

“I had been giving Blake a hard time,” said Metzger, a scuba diver instructor with Valley Water Rescue in Fargo. “I told him he just needed to pull the trigger and ask Kellie to marry him. He wanted to do something special so we started talking about what to do and it just snowballed from there.”

While it sounds reasonably simple, the scheme required a lot of precision and pre-planning, Mike said.

“It was a hoot to plan and a hoot to do,” he said. “It was just a fun day for everyone.”

The friends eventually set up a permanent fish house for Kellie and Blake to fish from and a temporary one, from which Mike staged his part of the plan.

“We had everything ready,” said Mike, from placing a stick marker on the ice to serve as a distance guide to Blake’s hole, to picking out the lure Kellie was to use.

“I tried to convince Blake to use a dime store ring,” Mike said. “But he wanted the real thing.”

The temporary house served as more than just a place to hide Mike from Kellie’s view — it also kept Mike’s scuba gear warm, which freezes quickly in cold temperatures, he said. A couple of Mike’s co-divers were also on the ice to ensure his safety.

“Going under the ice is a big deal,” he said. “I had a couple of helpers.”

The temporary fish house also served as the go-to “neighbor” when Blake told Kellie he wanted to see if the fish were biting for other anglers, a ruse to let Mike know all was ready for the marriage proposal caper.

Blake poked his head in Mike’s house and gave him the go-ahead signal and the diver entered the frigid waters of Otter Tail Lake, swim about 70 feet to Blake’s fishing hole, attached a rubber fish to Kellie’s lure and give it a tug as if she had a bite.

“Blake said the bobber went down and everything,” said Mike.

As O’Leary watched the hole she questioned why the water was so bubbly.

“At the time, I didn’t know (that Mike was under the water),” she said. “But Blake said the water was really bubbly this time of the year and I’ve learned not to question him.”

As O’Leary, a student teacher at Breckenridge Elementary School, was pulling the fish up, Blake, fearful she might hook Mike, told her to take it really slow.

What she pulled up, though, was a fish like nothing she had ever seen before.

“It was a huge black and yellow fish,” O’Leary said. “It was kind of scary looking. But then I saw my ring on it.”

She was further confused as she tried to figure out what was going on — how did he get the ring on there, she kept thinking, because she had watched him put her line in the water and there was no ring attached.

“He asked me to marry him and I said ‘yes’ three times, but I really just wanted to know how he did that,” she said. “I was really excited.”

Jokingly, she asked Blake “What did you do, get a scuba diver?”

She called her parents right away and told her “Mom, I caught a fiancé.”

As she continued to make calls sharing the story of her engagement, Blake caught of ton of baby perch, a perfect ending to perfect engagement proposal.

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