Missing wallet ushers stressful start to Canadian fishing trip

Ever woken up in another country and realized your wallet was missing? Trust me -- you don't want it to happen. Not unless you're looking to add a few gray hairs or a few points to your blood pressure, at least. It was the Saturday of Labor Day w...

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Ever woken up in another country and realized your wallet was missing?

Trust me -- you don't want it to happen. Not unless you're looking to add a few gray hairs or a few points to your blood pressure, at least.

It was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, and I'd made the trek north with three buddies to fish catfish on the Manitoba side of the Red River. Most years, we make the trip in July, but this year we delayed the excursion to avoid persistent high water conditions.

Driving separately, two of us had gotten an early enough start the previous afternoon to sneak in a couple of hours on the river before dark. We were staying with some Canadian friends who lived nearby, and the evening on the river served as a warm-up for a mini vacation that for the next 3½ days called for nothing more stringent than fishing, kicking back and wrapping up each day by solving the world's problems on the screen porch.

Sometimes, though, plans go astray.


I knew something was wrong within seconds of getting out of bed Saturday morning, when I reached for the pants with zip-off legs and flimsy, shallow pockets I'd been wearing the night before and noticed they felt oddly light.

My wallet was gone.

The revelation set off a whirlwind that quickly swept up everyone unfortunate enough to be in its path. Thoughts of fishing were put on hold as we scoured the camper, the boat and the pickup. We frantically tore the cushions from the living room sofa. There even was a desperate drive to the boat ramp where we'd launched the previous evening, just in case the wallet might have fallen out of my pocket while loading the boat in the dark.

Every effort produced the same outcome: wallet still missing.

This was a particularly dire turn of events because I basically carry my life in my wallet. Never mind the $160 cash the wallet contained or the four fishing licenses from two states and two Canadian provinces; I was more worried about the credit cards and account numbers and other personal information I didn't want ending up in someone else's hands.

We'd spent an hour searching every place we could think of to search, and reality was beginning to set in. It was just after 7:30 a.m., and the day had gotten off to one heck of a start.

And so a plan was formulated: Part of the crew would go fishing while our Canadian host and I stayed behind. I'd start making phone calls, canceling credit cards, alerting banks, credit bureaus and anyone else who might need contacting -- in essence, doing everything possible to cancel the life that had fallen from my back, right-hand pocket.

I vowed to turn the pants with zip-off legs and flimsy, shallow pockets into fish rags at the first opportunity.


At least I'd be able to get back across the border without incident, I thought, because my passport was still in the glove compartment where I'd left it after crossing into Manitoba the previous afternoon.

I was standing in the kitchen wondering where to begin when, for some unexplained reason, I decided to lean over the counter for a glance at the spot by the table where I'd sat eating pizza the previous evening after we'd gotten off the river.

That's when I saw it, a tattered bundle of blue nylon that blended almost perfectly with the dark-colored rug below the table.

"There it is!" I hollered, darting around the counter to grab the wallet, practically diving over chairs in the process. I felt as if I'd just won the lottery as a feeling of relief swept over me.

Whatever happened the rest of the day would be a bonus.

Every fishing trip has a defining moment, and when we talk about this year's excursion, we won't remember it for the hot weather or the big catfish or the evenings spent on the screen porch solving the world's problems.

Instead, we'll remember it for the Misadventure of the Missing Wallet.

And the pants with zippered back pockets I wore the rest of the weekend.


Dokken reports on outdoors. Reach him at (701) 780-1148; (800) 477-6572, ext. 148; or send e-mail to .

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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