Iowa livestock hauler Jim Denney didn't know where he was on Lake of the Woods when he lost his wallet in July 2022.

He had fished for hours on a churning lake with four friends. Back on shore, when he realized the billfold was gone, he surmised that it had worked its way out of his bib overalls while he sat on a ledge of the boat. The leather billfold, he thought, would surely rest for eternity at the bottom of an inland sea that stretches 70 miles long and 60 miles wide. It was not a comforting thought.

"I swore I'd never go back up there," Denney said.

Then along came Connor Halsa, a 14-year-old kid from Moorhead who was trolling for walleyes this summer in 20 feet of choppy water. The young hockey player was miles and miles away from the ramp where he and members of his extended family had launched their boat.

They were drifting with the waves and Connor was dragging a spinner, tipped with a leech. Suddenly, he felt something solid on the end of his line.

"I thought I had a huge fish, so I set the hook really hard," Connor told WDAY-TV news reporter Kevin Wallevand of Fargo.

As Connor reeled in, his cousin Brandon Klipping reached for a net. What they landed was Jim Denney's soaking-wet wallet — no bigger than a deck of cards and stuffed with more than $2,000 of U.S. currency.

"The wallet was covered with moss and slime and it kind of stayed closed when they reeled it up," Denney said. "They couldn't believe all the money."

The boys carefully peeled apart the wet bills and laid them on the boat's dashboard to dry. There were $1s $20s, $50s and lots of $100s. Most of the legal tender was intact, but some of the bank notes were eroded on the edges by the coarse lake bottom. One bill was ripped in half.

"It was all there,'' Denney said. "They didn't take a penny.''

Denney said there was no soul-searching on the part of Connor. He concluded quickly that the billfold wasn't a keeper. After all, the rightful owner must have worked awfully hard to earn all that cash, the boy figured.

Contacted by phone, Connor's mother, Melissa, said her son was starting high school in Moorhead and no longer wanted to talk about the impossible catch. Denney said the story has been popping up all around the United States, including a version in the making by "Inside Edition" and a headline in the New York Post.

Connor found Denney with the help of his aunt, Christine Klipping of Red Lake Falls. The wallet contained just one telephone number on a business card Denney had collected from a livestock owner in western Wisconsin. He had delivered cattle to the customer before losing the wallet.

When Klipping reached the woman, she put her in touch with a livestock broker who had Denney's phone number. That's how the connection was finally made.

"It was July 3rd and they tracked me down," Denney said. "They wanted to know how to send that billfold back to me."

Denney said he was so impressed by the honesty that he told Connor to keep it. But the boy and his family refused.

A month later, the wallet arrived at Denney's farmhouse in Mount Ayr, Iowa, a few miles north of the Missouri border. He promised to pay the family a visit, following through earlier this month with a plan to take the family out for dinner.

After dinner at Texas Roadhouse, they sat around a campfire at a state park near Moorhead to share stories.

"The whole family is out of this world," Denney said. "The only things you hear about anymore is crime and stuff like that. For someone to find something like that — which is pert-near impossible to begin with — it needs to be put out there" in the news.

Denney said it won't be his last trip to Moorhead. The families are committed to staying in touch.

"Connor is a one-of-a-kind boy and that's all I have to say," Denney said. "It's an experience I'll never forget and I got a new grandson out of it."