GARRISON, Minn. – People often tell me I have a dream job that affords me the opportunity to fish and hunt throughout the year.
I won’t argue that assertion, but there have been numerous drawbacks that occurred as the result of stepping in to harm’s way. But I’ll save that for another time.
A few years ago, however, I met a young man who never fails to announce to the world that he too has a dream job that puts him in the center of a lot of action.
Nate Berg, a 33-year-old Wisconsin outdoorsman, came to the public’s attention several years ago when NBC television news showed a piece about him and his extended fishing exploits that ran 1,261 consecutive days.
Outdoor television personality Babe Winkelman saw the NBC story while attending an industry convention in Las Vegas and decided to contact Nate. The phone call developed into show material, and Nate subsequently fished with Winkelman in 1991.
Babe took Berg to a Brainerd-area lake known for its big largemouth bass and the duo went “nuts” catching jumbo fish for the cameras. In 1992, Winkelman took Berg to Ontario for another fantastic fishing odyssey.
The two stayed in touch with each other while Nate worked his way through college with hopes of becoming a teacher.
It was during college-time that Babe dropped a bombshell on Berg. Winkelman reportedly told Nate “that he would be better off being involved in the out of doors rather than teaching.”
I’m not quite sure of the schedule of events but I believe it was right around graduation time that Berg applied for a job with Winkelman Productions in Brainerd, Minn.
Nothing was open at that moment, but Nate was not going to be deterred. He kept at it until he received a telephone call and request to show up in the Brainerd offices and be interviewed.
A short time later Berg was notified that he had secured a position with the company. With bags, fishing tackle, and hunting gear packed, Nate arrived in Brainerd ready for adventures unlimited.
Today Berg is a very accomplished videographer responsible for much of what you see on television. His work behind the camera documents Winkelman’s fishing and hunting exploits during the year.
“I was very fortunate to have been tutored by a number of solid experts in the company,” Berg explained. “I learned on the fly, so to speak, in that I was carefully brought along and exposed to excellent shooting techniques as well as editing skills that help make Babe’s shows the best on the air.”
To date Nate has been part of the camera crew that has visited 38 states and six countries. He likes to tell people that he’s “traveled to Argentina to Alaska and everything in between.”
Does he regret not being in the classroom to teach and help young people?
“I sometimes think about that,” he said, “and I probably would be there today if it wasn’t for Babe’s insistence that I belonged where I am today instead of the classroom.”
Berg’s working days often stretch in to evenings, with 17-hour schedules not uncommon. And that’s because the great video pictorials you see on the little screen don’t always happen the way they were planned.
And he still maintains he wouldn’t have it any other way.
So what does he do when he has a day off? What else-fishing and hunting on his own time of course, and well-deserved it is.
Uncertain future looms for ESPN’s outdoors shows
Now that ESPN has sold its interest in BASS, what’s next for the hunting and fishing circuit?
Well, Don Logan, Jim Copeland, and fishing legend Jerry McKinnis formed an investment group and purchased ESPN’s BASS assets, but as part of the agreement ESPN will retain the broadcast rights to the Bassmaster Elite Series and Bassmaster Classic programs. ESPN had purchased BASS in 2001, but earlier this year officials for the cable sports giant announced plans to cutback its outdoor programming lineup.
Investor and outdoorsman McKinnis has a long history with ESPN as the host of the network’s second longest-running show, The Fishin’ Hole, which aired from 1980 until 2007.
According to some TV critics, more changes are expected to be announced soon for the ESPNClassic and ESPNews channels.
Fox Chain: Good news for anglers on the Chain. The No-Wake restrictions are no more. Look for the muskie action to be great on Lake Catherine, while walleye activity on Channel Lake has improved, especially in current areas. Pistakee walleyes are decent, especially near the south end near the river.
Fox River: The No-wake rule is still in effect from the Stratton Dam all the way downstream. Smart anglers have been parking their boats at channel mouths and managing to pick up some smallmouth bass and pike.
Bangs Lake: Excellent largemouth action on the north shoreline, as well as the far east banks.
Delavan Lake: Good bass activity in 10-feet while the bluegill activity continues to keep anglers happy working 15-foot weedlines.
Mike Jackson can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com. His radio program airs from 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC, AM-1240.