‘Still hard to believe:’ Moorhead teen hooks a billfold full of money on Lake of the Woods

This story is courtesy of ABC-affiliate WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota.

MOORHEAD — Connor Halsa is just days away from his freshman year at Moorhead High School and more hockey. And he has a summer vacation story that will be hard to top.

“We were doing a walleye drift, so we stopped the boat, put some spinners on and let the waves take us,” Connor said.

He was fishing with his family on Lake of the Woods, when he thought a fish had struck his line.

“I thought I had a huge fish, so I set the hook really hard,” Connor said.

But it was no walleye.

“My cousin netted it,” he said.

It was a billfold full of money.

“My cousin opened the wallet up, and he said some words you probably shouldn’t say, and he showed everyone, and we took the money out and let it dry out,” Connor said.

Inside the billfold was $2,000 in cash.

“My dad said we should give it to the person, and I said we should, too,” he said.

The family found a business card inside, called the number and tracked down the owner of the billfold.

“I tell you what, I have the billfold in my hands, and it is still hard to believe,” said Iowa farmer Jim Denney.

Denney was at Lake of the Woods fishing one year ago when he lost his wallet.

“The water was really rough, and I was sitting on the back of the boat and it was rocking back and forth, and it worked itself out and slipped off into the water,” Denney said.

He didn’t realize he had lost the billfold until he reached into his bib overalls to pay the final bill at the resort.

“They had to float me the money for the whole deal. That’s the (worst) feeling I ever had, didn’t have a penny on me,” Denney said.

It is hard to calculate, but the odds are out of this world. One million acres of lake. Seventy miles long, 70 miles wide and Connor hooked a billfold the size of a deck of cards.

“The odds of ever finding or hooking a billfold in 20 feet of water — I don’t think there’s a number,” Denney said.

So, Denney made the trip from Iowa to Moorhead, where he met the Halsa family and even offered to give Connor money, but the teen turned him down.

“To meet people like that, who are that honest, I tried to get them to take the money, and they wouldn’t do it,” Denney said.

Denney gave Connor a fancy cooler, but more than that, he gave the teen a compliment worth much more than the cash found at the bottom of Lake of the Woods.

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

Connor learned some great lessons about himself and doing what’s right.

“Be nice to everyone and give back. We didn’t work hard for the money, he did. It was his money,” he said.