Minnesota teen hooks wallet of cash fishing; returns money to grateful Iowa farmer

ByKevin Wallevand, WDAY, CNNWire
Tuesday, August 22, 2023
Teen hooks wallet full of cash while fishing
A teenage boy hooked a wallet full of cash while fishing in Minnesota. He did the right thing and returned the money to its owner.

MINNESOTA -- A teenager from Minnesota loves to fish, and the 14-year-old made a big catch recently.

Except what he caught wasn't a fish. He reeled in a treasure.

Connor Halsa is just days away from his Freshman year of high school and more hockey.

But Connor has the best summer vacation story that will be hard to top.

"We like we were doing a walleye drift, so we stopped the boat, and like we put some spinners on and like we just let the waves take us," he said.

Connor was fishing with his family at a lake when suddenly, he felt his line pull.

"I thought I had a big fish, and I set the hook really hard," he said.

It was no walleye!

His cousin Brandon netted it for him.

It was a billfold, full of money.

"My cousin Brandon 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, and he like showed everyone. And then we like took the money out and placed it all on the dashboard to let it dry off," Connor said.

It was $2,000!

"My dad said we should give it to the person, so I told him we should, too," Connor said.

The money and other items inside the billfold of moss and water also contained a business card. So the family called the number and tracked down the owner.

"I tell you what, if I didn't if I got the billfold in my hands. It is still hard for me to believe," said Jim Denney, an Iowa farmer.

Denney had been at the lake fishing one year ago.

"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 have worked out of there and slipped off into the water," Denney said.

The billfold fell out of his back pocket. He didn't realize it until he reached into his bib overalls to pay the final bill at the resort.

"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. I didn't have a penny on me," Denney said.

It is hard to calculate, the odds are out of this world. A million-acre lake 70 miles long, 70 miles wide and Connor hooks a billfold the size of a deck of cards.

"The odds of ever finding a billfold in there, a billfold in 20-foot water, I don't think there would be a number," Denney said.

And so, Denney recently made the trip from Iowa to Minnesota where he met Connor and his family.

He offered to give Connor a reward, but he wouldn't take it.

"To meet people like that, that is that honest. She says there is a lot of money in this billfold. I said I know. I tried to get them to take the money and they wouldn't do it," Denney said.

"He like customized it and put my last name on it," Connor said.

Denney gave Connor a fancy personalized cooler. But more than that, he gave Connor a compliment worth much more than the cash found at the bottom of the lake.

"I would take Connor for a grandson any day and I would fight for him any day," Denney said.

Connor said that he learned some great lessons about himself and doing what's right.

"Yeah, to be nice to everyone and like give back to people. We didn't work hard for the money, he did, so it was his money," Connor said.

Besides giving Connor the custom-made cooler, Denney took Connor's whole family out for dinner as a way to say, "Thank you."

WDAY reported this story for CNN.