Mentoring has been key to outdoors knowledge
By Dale Bowman Post-Tribune correspondent March 14, 2013 11:20PM
Updated: April 16, 2013 4:23PM
Pat Renwick stepped out of the studio at WJOB-AM a few months ago while “Region Bass Buzz’’ co-host “Conservation Mike’’ Echterling went out back for a smoke.
I asked Renwick if Bobby Bergren was handling the studio alone.
“Sink or swim,’’ Renwick said.
Mentoring has been the core to passing along outdoors knowledge for centuries. Bergren, a 21-year-old from Munster, is a perfect example, on both ends.
He became a co-host of “Region Bass Buzz,’’ now three hours Saturday mornings, after impressing Renwick. Bergren was working at Mik-Lurch Fishing Tackle Outlet in Hammond — he started when he was 15 — when Renwick came in as a customer. They hit it off well while bass fishing at the Lansing Country Club.
“He became my bass fishing mentor,’’ Bergren said. “He liked me and got me on the show. I love doing it. I appreciate what he did for me and taught me.’’
That’s the key to mentoring. But the path to outdoors knowledge has many masters.
Bergren fell in with Capt. Ralph Steiger years ago. They fish together for all sorts of species.
“He is a mentor and best friend, a good fishing buddy,’’ Bergren said. “He taught me how to fish.’’
In the five years he worked at Mik-Lurch, he learned steelhead fishing on the streams from Glen Gajewski and Mark Radvonausky; and perch fishing on Lake Michigan from Mike Starcevich.
“I was learning the fishing industry,’’ Bergren said.
He now works with his father, Bruce, at Bergren & Associates, which supplies steel mills with parts. His father is also an outdoorsman.
It’s hard to pin Bergren down on his favorite activity in the outdoors. He goes goose hunting and fishing for smallmouth bass and bluegill.
“I don’t really have a favorite,’’ he said. “Every bluegill through an ice hole or drag-screaming chinook, I love everything in the region.’’
When pressed, he finally said, “It would have be, ah, probably smallmouth on Lake Michigan.’’
He is still looking for his first 5-pound smallmouth there, but he is working on it. His favorite method is darters on spinning gear.
“I am always going around fishing for everything,’’ Bergren said.
His biggest fish is a 400-pound bull shark, about 8 feet long, caught in Florida.
“I love talking about fishing, my main passion in life,’’ said Bergren, who hopes the “Region Bass Buzz’’ goes national.
Or he might get his captain’s license; or start his own tackle shop some day.
The outdoors world is there for him.
And he does his own mentoring.
Bergren, an eagle scout, is merit badge counselor for Munster Troop 533.
“I love teaching how to fish, how to get them out on lake,’’ he said. “Having other mentors really inspired me to help others.’’
Fishing: The influx of water is expected to bring a spike in steelhead in the tributaries. ... Boaters are out again on Lake Michigan the past couple days. As long as the winds don’t shift north too much, spring fishing should be underway for browns and coho.
Women outside: Registration for “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman’’ is open at IndianaBOW.com. It costs $185.
3D shoot: The Michigan City chapter of the Izaak Walton League is having a 3D archery shoot on April 7. Contact Jason (219) at 877-5800; or Pat, (219) 8774148.
Places and faces: The DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife recently honored Greg Rainford and Sam Molter with Awards of Excellence for their work together as field technicians at Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area during a staffing cut.