LAKE OF THE WOODS, Minn. — Iowa farmer Jim Denney knows fishing.
"I'm not no spring chicken. And I've been all over this United States."
He's fished in lakes, ponds and rivers across the country.
Last summer, Denney took a prize trip to Minnesota with friends on one of the largest lakes in North America, the Lake of the Woods. The group unwound and caught lots of fish, but not everything was calm.
"The water was rough," Denney said. "Two-foot waves or better, and it was just shaking us around."
Sitting at the back of the boat, Denney stashed his wallet in his fishing bib pocket. But when it came time to pay the bill for the trip, his wallet was nowhere to be found.
"I reached for my billfold, and it wasn't there," he said.
So, he went back to check the boat.
"Tell you what, I just about sunk," Denney said. And sunk it did.
Denney discovered his wallet had fallen into the lake holding one million acres of water.
"At that moment, I was broke," he said.
Broke, as in broken. What should've been a memorable weekend left him swearing and promising he'd never fish the lake again.
"One of the guys said, 'We going back next year?' And I said, 'No way. I've lost enough up there, I'm not going back.'"
At the end of the trip, $2,000 in cash was lost to the bottom of the lake — or so he thought.
"We came on home, and life goes on," Denney said. He told Local 5 he replaced what he could and learned to live without the rest.
But nearly a year later, an unthinkable call came from an unknown number. His money had been found.
From there, a business card connected two strangers over something they both thought was impossible.
"We were doing a walleye drift, so we stopped the boat and we put spinners on and we just let the waves take us," 14-year-old Connor Halsa said.
Halsa was fishing with his family on Lake of the Woods when he hooked what he thought was a big fish.
Instead of a walleye, Halsa had caught a wallet.
"My dad said we should get it back to the person, so I told him we should too," Halsa said.
And so he did. Denney and his wife drove around eight hours to northern Minnesota to meet Halsa and his lucky catch.
Denney insisted the teen keep the cash as a thank you, but Halsa and his family politely declined.
It was never about the money for the two anglers, generations apart. Instead, it was about life lessons of doing what's right that brought them together.
"Connor is the man," Denney said. "He could be my grandson, and I'd fight for him any day of the week."
In lieu of the cash, Denney took the Halsa family out for dinner and bought the teen a personalized cooler for his next big fishing trip.