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Nate Berg, 12, Approaches 500 Fishing Days—the Mind Reels

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He seems too young to be a hometown hero, but blond, barrel-chested Nate Berg is making Blair (pop. 1,142), Wis., famous. And all because he likes to fish. Nate is so hooked on wielding a rod and reel that this week, on Aug. 9, he will achieve an unsnapped string of 500 straight fishing days.

Naturally, neither rain, sleet, cold nor predawn gloom could stay Nate from an appointment of at least a few minutes each day beside a local body of water. He doesn’t keep count of his haul, but by now it must number a few thousand fish, with a 36-inch northern pike as his biggest trophy. Except for such keepers, which he usually eats, he releases the bulk of his catch to be caught and caught again—preferably by him.

In 1987 Nate warmed up to his task by fishing for 46 days straight. Then, on March 27, 1988, in pursuit of a new personal record, he began the streak that has yet to end. Ask him why he’s doing this, and Nate will show himself to be a young sportsman of few words. The sixth grader says simply, “It’s fun.”

That’s the way Nate has always been, say his parents, Kathy and John Berg, who own a grocery store in Blair. When Nate was a toddler, says his mom, he used to stick a Snoopy pole in the water whenever he could. His dad tells of a vacation when 6-year-old Nate hung fish heads with their dangling skeletons on a clothesline. One of Nate’s first-grade compositions read: “Bass are fish. Bass swim in ponths [sic] and lakes. By Nate.”

Family and friends have pitched in to keep Nate’s string intact. “We’ve drilled a lot of holes in the ice,” says John Berg. And some men in town built a wooden shed on frozen Lake Henry last winter to shield the lad from the biting winds. So all of Blair is expected to turn out for a celebration to honor Nate this week, though that will merely mark a milestone and not an end. If Nate can have things his way, the day will never come when he stops fishing.

 

PEOPLE STAFF  August 14, 1989 12:00 PM

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