Just weeks after his mother paid $200 for the class ring signifying his graduation from Houston’s Universal Technical Institute in 1987, Joe Richardson accidentally dropped the blue-stone bauble into the water while fishing at Lake Sam Rayburn.

Initially he received plenty of grief from his mom over the expensive loss, but Richardson eventually forgot about the ring and went on to pursue a career as a mechanic in Buna, Tx. 

That is, until last week, when he received a call from a total stranger who said he had found a ring with “Joe Richardson” engraved inside the band.Ring

“My first reaction was—you gotta be kidding,” Richardson told the Associate Press yesterday.

Even more unlikely was the caller’s tale about how he came across Richardson’s piece of jewelry after 21 years in the East Texas impoundment. It seems he was fishing at Sam Rayburn on the day after Thanksgiving and landed a largemouth bass that weighed more than 8 pounds—though it lost a few ounces after it gave up the gold class ring with the blue stone. 

The angler, who was fishing with two other men, said he tracked down Richardson with the aid of his cellphone-based Internet service. He said the ring came out of the bass’ mouth and fell into the bottom the boat.

Beaumont, Tx. television station KFDM reported that the angler called four Joe Richardsons before he found the 1987 UTI graduate. Later that day, the two met at the Dairy Queen in Buna, where the angler–who said he wished to remain anonymous–returned the heirloom to its grateful owner.

What are Richardson’s plans for the ring?

“I have not cleaned it,” he said. “I told my wife I don’t want to clean it.”