ON ISLAND LAKE, Minn. -- Timmon Lund was reeling in a small perch on this big reservoir north of Duluth when the conversation turned to his battle with cancer and how fishing helped pull him through sometimes vicious rounds of chemotherapy.
"I had my own boat. But there were times when I just didn't have enough energy to go on my own. But I had friends who were always calling me, always taking me out," said Lund as he tossed the fish back and into the lake and re-baited his jig with a piece of night crawler. "Those trips are what got me through treatment."
Remembering how those fishing trips helped him cope with cancer was the genesis behind Lund's new cause in life, the Catch Your Moment Foundation. He founded it in 2016 with some Duluth-area friends and some help from his brother, Josh, in the Twin Cities. It's now an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit with new chapters opening in North Dakota and Michigan.
"We've done about 20 trips each summer ... Until this summer. We're just starting to gear up this summer with all the COVID stuff," Lund said as he adjusted his Garmin side-image depth finder. "My real dream would be to see this spread across the country, with chapters in all the states."
Catch Your Moment is based out of the home Lund and his wife, Dr. Sara Lund, share on Island Lake. There's a waterfront guest cabin for clients to stay in, plus a 14-bed bunkhouse, with a sand beach and a fire pit. Lund uses his 19-foot Ranger walleye boat for most of the trips, but other volunteers offer their boats and "guiding" services as well. Greg Beach of Hermantown and Chris Lemke of Two Harbors have been instrumental in getting the effort up and running, including crewing on trips.
"We want people to bring their whole family if they want. Cancer really impacts everyone in the family, not just the patient," Lund said.
Beach is a founding board member as well as coordinator of promotions, marketing, and future operations for the organization and helped draft the official incorporation documents.
"I have a military background so I can help get through that red tape," Beach noted.
Each Catch Your Moment trip is tailored specifically for each patient and can be aimed at any species and any lake, from walleyes to lake trout, bass, panfish or muskies. The foundation's efforts are spreading mostly by word of mouth, and thanks to some social workers at clinics and hospitals in Duluth and the Twin Cities.
"It's kind of a fine line because some oncologists don't want people out fishing ... But we work it out," Lund said. "When my buddies took me fishing, my doctor told me not to go, not to touch any fish or any bait because my immune system was so suppressed. So my friends baited all my hooks and took all my fish off ... My buddies did that for me and now I'll do that for other people."