The Baksay connection

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Veteran Bassmaster pro Terry Baksay spent the workweek breaking in his son’s newly purchased bass boat on Oneida Lake. It was site of Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open #2.

Just 60 miles away the son was wishing he could be fishing for a couple of reasons. The first was obvious. He wanted to try out the used boat purchased on eBay after months of online shopping.

Otherwise, the original plan was competing as a co-angler in the tournament. He’d already signed up but cancelled at the last minute.

Calling in sick was not an option to fish or even test-drive the boat.

U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Baksay is assigned to the 725th Explosive Ordnance Detonating Company. At Fort Drum in nearby Watertown, Baksay was on call for deployment during tournament week. That is typical for a solider whose special skills can be needed at the moment’s notice.

Stateside duty means responding to assist and supervise detonation of explosives such as bombs in public places. Overseas, it can be in combat while detonating an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Baksay has been there and done just that on active duty deployment.

Like many hardcore bass anglers, his mind is on fishing when not focused on work. Credit mom for unknowingly bringing home that interest. Give kudos to dad for nurturing a sport the son loves when away from work.

Marcia Baksay is a state social worker in Connecticut. Once upon a time children in foster care were regular weekend guests. A six-year-old kid named Christopher was one of them. His visits eventually became permanent. That was in 1997 when the Baksays adopted him.

“He took a liking to fishing right after we adopted him,” noted Terry. “He acquired that interest on his own, even though he did grow up around my career.”

Part of that career included supporting youth programs associated with the B.A.S.S. Nation. In Christopher’s early years that was Bassmaster CastingKids and the Junior Bassmaster program. Terry Baksay volunteered countless hours to support them during Christopher’s boyhood.

Like many children of tournament pros, Christopher traveled with has father during summer break to events. A tournament at Lake Champlain was among them.

“Bass fishing was relatively new around there and we didn’t have much volunteer help,” recalled Chris Bowes, B.A.S.S. tournament manager. “He was barely a teenager at the time and stepped up and just did everything for us.”

Christopher joined a junior club and his bass fishing skills blossomed to championship potential. He was a perennial winner in the youth ranks of the Connecticut B.A.S.S. Nation.

“He lost one tournament in eight years of youth fishing in the state of Connecticut,” said Terry. “We spent a lot of time fishing together and it meant a great deal to me.”

That included trips as a teen to the Bassmaster Junior World Championship. It was held in equal reverence to the kids as the Bassmaster Classic.

A career as a professional bass angler was ahead for the taking. Christopher had a different plan. He joined the Army at the age of 18.

“I’ve always wanted to serve my country and I’m proud that I actually could do it,” he said. “I put fishing on the back burner, but what’s so exciting about being stationed here is that I can actually get back into it.”

The location of Fort Drum is a convenient coincidence to Christopher’s off-duty pastime. He planned it that way.

“I definitely wanted to be assigned here because of all the great smallmouth fisheries,” he said. “I’ve got access to all the great places.”

Baksay experienced what’s ahead at Oneida Lake. His scheduled allowed an unplanned but welcomed visit to the weigh-in.

He smiled and reeled off the list of prime spots where the new used boat will see hours of fishing. Oneida, Ontario and Champlain came to mind. So did fishing the Northern Open tour next season.

What came to mind next was his father approaching in a boat that he’d never before seen. Now comes the unfinished business of trying out the new rig.

He’ll do that over the weekend, now that dad is finished breaking in the boat.