LAKE OF THE WOODS, Minn. — Instead of celebrating the catch of a lifetime (and a minor miracle), a teen angler from Moorhead is enjoying a consolation prize and the knowledge he made a conscious choice to do the right thing.
Connor Halsa is days away from starting his freshman year at Moorhead High School, but he's already had plenty of excitement thanks to something he reeled in on a recent family fishing outing on Lake of the Woods. The lake is massive, the water vast... and yet somehow Connor managed to set his hook on something that was a little more than four inches long and three inches wide.
"I thought I had a big fish, and I set the hook really hard," Connor told WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota.
Instead, Connor reeled in what was on the end of his line and his cousin netted it. Not a walleye, or a huge northern pike, but a wallet loaded with $2,000 in cash.
"My cousin Brandon he opened the wallet up and he was like he said some words that you probably shouldn't say and then he said there was some money in it," Connor told WDAY, "and he showed everyone and then we like took the money out and placed it all on the dashboard to like let it dry off."
Let's be honest, $2,000 is a LOT of money to a 14-year-old, but along with the dough was a business card with a phone number on it. Connor and his family didn't think twice, making the call that would lead them to Jim Denney, an Iowa farmer who was fishing on Lake of the Woods a year previous when he dropped his wallet overboard.
"The water was awful rough I was sitting on the back of the boat there and the boat was rocking back and forth pretty good and it just must of worked out of there and slipped off into the water," Denney shared with the North Dakota station.
Denney didn't know his wallet was gone until he went to pay the resort bill for his trip and found himself embarrassed, without a penny to his name.
"They had to kind of float me the money for the whole deal, I didn't have that was the sunkiest feeling I ever been," he admitted.
Denney recently made the trip from his farm to the Red River Valley to meet the lucky young angler, and collect his wallet and the thousands that were in it. He offered Connor a cash reward, which the teen declined, so Jim gifted him a fancy personalized cooler and took the entire Halsa family out to dinner.
He also gave the young man the ultimate compliment.
"I would take Connor for a grandson any day and I would fight for him any day."
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