Lauren Ray (left) kisses her fiance, Casey Jameson, after she accepted his marriage proposal. Jameson put the engagement ring on the end of a line and arranged for Ray to find it when she checked the bait. Credit: Courtesy of Lauren Ray

Some ice fishermen attach smelts to the end of their line, figuring that the tasty morsels give them the best chance of success during a day on the hard water. Others prefer shiners, or suckers.

But on those days when you simply don’t want to take “No” for an answer, it takes something truly special.

Like your grandmother’s heirloom engagement ring.

That was Casey Jameson’s tactic on Tuesday, fishing with his girlfriend Lauren Ray on Pemadumcook Lake. And while he may not have caught any fish with the sparkly, shiny ring, he did get the answer he wanted when he tripped the flag on his ice fishing trap and asked Lauren to pull in the line to “check the bait.”

She was confused at first, then saw the ring. Then she looked and saw Jameson, one knee on the ice, proposing marriage.

Jameson said he’d been planning the proposal for a long time.

“I had the ring. It was in my jacket pocket for months. I knew I was gonna do it on the ice, and I was just kind of waiting,” he said. “We both just got brand new sleds and it was just a perfect time. It was our first day, really, out there [fishing].”

The Millinocket couple love to fish together, both during the summer and winter. On Tuesday, Jameson took care of drilling holes in the ice and setting up traps while Lauren set up their ice shelter and got things ship-shape.

Jameson said he hooked the ring, which belonged to his grandmother, to a swivel that he’d tied to the leader, and lowered barely below the ice, hoping to avoid a fish swimming past and gobbling up the heirloom.

Then he left the trap’s flag waving and hustled back to the ice shack.

“I was hoping she wasn’t looking out the window [to see what I was doing]. Then I talked to her for a little bit. And then I’m just like, ‘Look, we got a flag,’ and she freaked out,” Jameson said.


Ray wasn’t quite ready to fish, and said she didn’t even have her gloves on.

At the hole, Lauren found a slack fishing line, with no fish on the other end.

“I was like, ‘I think we lost it. I don’t have anything on the hook,'” she said. “So I yanked it really quick and I was like, ‘Babe, I think you need to go get the bait. We need to put new bait on the hook.’ He’s like, ‘Check the bait.”

She did. Then she saw the ring. Then she looked at Jameson, who had been taking video of her reaction, and fully understood what was going on.

“At the end of the video he dropped his phone, and he got down on one knee and said, ‘Will you marry me?’ I was like, ‘Oh my god!’ And then two minutes later I was like, ‘Yes!, I forgot to say yes!'”

Jameson said the couple’s passion for fishing tipped the scales toward an on-ice proposal. Lauren said the venue made perfect sense.

“The past four years we’ve been ice fishing buddies,” Ray said. “We go overnight on expeditions up north, and we’ve gotten some big, big fish. It’s just our favorite thing.”

And Ray said she feels honored to be able to wear Jameson’s grandmother’s ring.

Casey Jameson ice fishes while his fiancee, Lauren Ray, shows off her engagement ring after Jameson proposed to her during their fishing trip. Credit: Courtesy of Lauren Ray

“She passed away last year and we were really close with her so it means like a lot,” Ray said. “I’d rather have this than one that he’d bought new.”

If you’re an hardcore ice angler, you may be asking another question right now. Like, “Forget all this mushy romantic stuff. How was the fishing?

Not great, it turns out.

“The one fish we had on, I was pulling it up, and it was too heavy for the pole and she started hand-lining it,” Jameson said. “It swam around our other line in the shack, tangled them up and then came off the hook. So we didn’t get nothing.”

Well, not exactly “nothing.”

“Yeah. Just one big catch,” Ray said with a grin.

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...