On the Kenai, fish hooked — along with another prized possession

On the Kenai, fish hooked — along with another prized possession
Published: Jun. 28, 2023 at 8:27 AM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

KENAI, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaskans and visitors alike flock to the Kenai River during the summertime to experience world-class fishing, but it was a different prized possession that was hooked by a traveler who was recently visiting her son from the East Coast.

Dave Finocchio was hosting his mother Jaclyn on her trip from Massachusetts, and her vacation included a couple of fishing endeavors. On Friday, they decided to head down to the Kenai Peninsula.

“We were fishing on the Kenai for sockeye with the typical kind of weight and hook setup,” Finnochio said. “We both hooked into what we thought were fish.

“We kind of looked at each other,” he explained of the catch. “We didn’t really know what to think at first.”

Fish were caught, but so too was an item that had been lost to the river days earlier.

“I did have a fish,” Finnochio added. “And my mom started reeling in something.”

To their surprise, Jaclyn had somehow hooked an iPhone, unscathed inside an Otterbox. While the battery was dead, the phone was still intact overall.

“We were all pretty surprised by that,” Finnochio said. “But it looked like it was in good shape; we had no idea how long it had been in the river. And we got home that evening and dried it out, and thought, ‘Let’s try to charge it up.’”

The pair went on to charge the phone upon their return to Anchorage, and soon found that a family photo was featured on the phone’s home screen.

“There was a picture of two folks on the screen, so I said, ‘Well, I don’t know who they are, but let’s take a picture, post it on Facebook, and see if anybody knows them,’” Finnochio said.

After posting about the experience online and using the power of social media to try and find out whose phone it was, the iPhone was soon reunited with its owner. About 12 hours after posting, Finnochio said, the mother of the owner of the phone reached out saying it have been lost while fishing four days ago.

“So the phone was in the river for four days,” Finnochio said. “I messaged [the owner], and we met up later that evening. He came by and picked it up, and it works.”

Alaska State Troopers Communications Director Austin McDaniel said that the threshold for the agency tracking items is usually around $500. Discovery of items such as government identification cards — driver’s licenses, military ID’s, or passports — should also be reported, whether that’s to state troopers or local law enforcement. Residents can also contact federal agents in the Russian River ferry and campground areas if something is found around there.

“Turn that into a lost-and-found, and they can work to try and reunite that with the owner,” McDaniel said of items found in or around the rivers. “Or the owner may show up there looking for their lost things.”

For Finnochio, the experience of being able to return the phone to its owner was a good reminder that good things still happen these days.

“What are the chances that you would actually snag a phone, presumably on the bottom of the river, with a small hook?” he said. “If I was in his shoes, I would’ve really appreciated the phone back. It makes for an expensive day.

“I would just say, assume people are nice first,” he added. “You know, do what you can. Social media is pretty powerful, and in a small place like Alaska, it’s pretty easy to connect with someone that’s not too far separated from you. So give it a shot.”

On the troopers’ end, if they know who an item belongs to, they will try to reunite the item with its owner, McDaniel said, adding that the numbers of items reported as lost or found increases in the spring and summer to coincide with the influx of visitors to Alaska.

“A lot of phones, wallets, things of that nature,” McDaniel said. “And a handful of firearms each year across the state as well.”

Firearms are a particularly important item to report as lost or found, and such cases should be brought to law enforcement immediately, McDaniel said. A serial number and photo are helpful in the event that info can be provided.

“If you do lose a firearm or one gets stolen from you, you definitely want to let law enforcement know in case that firearm is used in something nefarious down the road,” McDaniel said, adding that any law enforcement agency will take firearms and try to track down their owners. “We know a lot of Alaskans are going to be out doing Alaskan things, especially with this weekend with July 4 coming up. Your Alaska State Troopers are going to be out there and on patrol to be a help. So if you find lost items, if you need any help, definitely reach out.”