Fooled by a fake crappie

I got fooled Saturday afternoon when Loren Keizer, a friend from Detroit Lakes, Minn., texted me a photo of Bruce Mosher holding a slab crappie on what appeared to be a sheet of ice.

As the story went, they were fishing an unnamed lake where the ice was 1½ inches thick.

Bruce Mosher of Beltrami, Minn., uses this metal crappie as part of the display promoting his Ice Buster bobbers. The fish looks just like the real deal.

Mosher, of Beltrami, Minn., is the inventor of the Ice Buster Bobber, and I’ve fished with him several times over the years. I also know him as a bit of a risk-taker, and it wouldn’t have surprised me if he’d actually ventured out on 1½ inches of ice.

I once fished with Mosher and Dave Genz – “aka Mr. Ice Fishing” – on a small lake in Polk County that had 2 inches of ice. I’ll never forget the horrible sounds the ice made if we got within 50 feet of each other.

There were no mishaps that late November afternoon, but it was an exercise in folly I’ll never repeat.

So, when I received Keizer’s photo of Mosher holding a crappie Saturday afternoon, I texted back and told him to tell Mosher he was crazy.

Long story short, the pair was at an ice fishing show in Sioux Falls, S.D., and they’d staged the photo in a snow-covered parking lot. On the small screen of my cell phone, at least, the white surface looked just like a sheet of ice.

And the crappie, a metal fish Mosher uses as part of his bobber display, looked just like the real deal.

“Bruce had that crappie in his display, and we were talking about early ice,” Keizer texted later. “He told me you would call him crazy.”

He was right; that’s exactly what I called him.

If this cold weather holds,  it won’t be long before anglers will be venturing out on the ice of smaller lakes. Be careful and play it safe, though. Go out with a buddy, wear a life jacket, carry a spud bar to test the ice (if it breaks through, hightail it back to shore), bring a rope and carry a set of ice picks just in case. A minimum of 4 inches of ice is recommended for safe foot travel.

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