Fishing Faceoff supports breast cancer research

Published 5:44 pm Friday, February 19, 2021

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Ice fishing trash talk in the office will be tested Monday on the frozen Cedar River State Water Trail to help raise support for breast cancer research.

Cedar River Watershed District is doing its first fundraiser, Fishing Faceoff, support Austin’s annual Paint the Town Pink initiative. It’s a friendly rivalry between CRWD coworkers and avid fishermen James Fett, watershed technician, and Paul Hunter, watershed conservationist.

While greatly limited with fundraising activities this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Paint the Town Pink is pushing ahead in its 10th year of raising awareness and significant funding support for cutting-edge breast cancer research at The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota in Austin.

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Typically, Paint the Town Pink’s major fundraisers have included two events at Austin’s East Side Lake: the Plunging for Pink polar plunge and Fishing for a Cure ice-fishing contest. Both are not happening this year due to the pandemic.

Given this, CRWD wanted to try to support Paint the Town Pink, leading to the Fishing Faceoff: Two anglers on 2/22; two fishing rods each; two sites; and an initial fundraising goal of $222, which was surpassed within days. To date, CRWD has raised $1,125 and is aiming for an updated goal of $2,000 by the end of next week.

Fett and Hunter will ice fish against each other for six hours from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday. They can fish anywhere during that time on Ramsey Mill Pond and Austin Mill Pond – two stretches of the Cedar River behind dams in Austin.

Monday’s loser will buy the winner lunch at The Old Mill restaurant, which overlooks the most-popular ice fishing site in the Cedar River Watershed above the Ramsey Dam. The winner will be the angler who wins at least two out of three categories: most fish; longest fish; and most species of fish.

Donations supporting CRWD’s efforts can be made online on its “Fishing Faceoff” crowdfunding page hosted by the University of Minnesota:

All funds donated to the Fishing Faceoff will go 100 percent directly to breast cancer research at The Hormel Institute and will be counted toward Paint the Town Pink’s overall fundraising total for 2021.

CRWD’s Facebook page – — will provide updates during Monday’s contest and already offers short videos about the personal connection Fett and Hunter both have to breast cancer. The page also is hosting an online auction of a hand-crafted, wooden canoe paddle created and donated by local woodworker Greg Jette. It is varnished and built from three types of wood: black walnut, cherry and maple.

 Fett and his wife, Pam, are supporting the cause because they lost Pam’s mother, Pat McNab, in 2016 to triple-negative breast cancer, which accounts for about 10 to 15 percent of breast cancer cases. She was diagnosed in early 2015 and, despite an aggressive battle, died in June 2016 at age 53.

 “Pat was a wonderful woman: a great mother, wife and friend,” Fett said. “She had a distinct appreciation for the outdoors, and I have many fond memories of her, especially on our many family ice-fishing trips.”

Hunter and his wife, Brittany – just married last spring – have supported Paint the Town Pink in past years through the annual Plunging for Pink. Brittany took the icy plunge into East Side Lake twice, and Paul once.

They personally know how vital research is in finding better ways to prevent and treat breast cancer and all other forms of cancer. Brittany’s grandmother, Dorothy Walter, of Austin, is a two-time breast cancer survivor. Her aunt, Leanne Morris, of Austin, also is a breast cancer survivor.

“We also have had several family friends fortunate enough to have survived breast cancer,” said Hunter, who lost his grandfather, Richard “Dick” Johnson in 2009 to a form of cancer called acute myelogenous leukemia. “Breast cancer and cancer in general affect so many great people. We need to keep finding better answers to cancer.”

Check donations also can be made to “The Hormel Institute” and mailed to the Cedar River Watershed District, 1408 21st Ave. N.W., Austin, MN, 55912. Those with questions can contact CRWD outreach coordinator Tim Ruzek at or 507-993-2518.