I knew Terry Baksay even before I really knew Terry Baksay.
I met my fishing mentor Bill Roberts in the summer of 1995 and joined his bass club a few months later. A few years earlier, Bill and Terry had been team partners in a New England bass trail. Although they were roughly the same age and had both grown up fishing in Connecticut, with fathers who worked for the same company, they didn’t know each other in their youth. If memory serves me correctly, someone made the introduction when Terry qualified for the 1990 Classic on the James River. Bill was by then living here in Virginia so someone put them on each other’s radar.
I fished a lot with Bill in my first couple of years in the club and pestered him just about every Monday with a call to his office to ask about his weekend’s fishing. I don’t specifically recall him talking about Terry early on, but I do know that I threw a Slug-go a lot in those days. Much of Baksay’s early success on tour came with that bait – remember, there were no flukes or Senkos or other similar soft plastics, so he was showing most of the fish a totally new look. Somehow, that influence reached me and I came to rely heavily on his favorite lure.
The first time I recall meeting him was when we were both fishing an FLW event on Lake Minnetonka in the summer of 1997. He was rooming next to me and Bill, and we must’ve had dinner one night or just yapped a bunch in the parking lot. After Day One I was in the top 10 in the co-angler standings, and I drew the famous Ron Lindner for Day Two. I recall that Terry, in a green Ranger with a Spiderwire wrap (at a time when wraps were relatively uncommon), weaved in and out of the boats at take-off that morning to come over to us. He told Ron that I was his friend, that I was in the top 10, and asked him to look out for me. That’s just the kind of guy he is. Lindner treated me better that day than any pro partner before or since, and while I fell just short of the ten-cut, it was a formative experience.
Over the next two-plus decades I remained in contact with Terry. We’d see each other at tournaments, either both fishing them, or him fishing and me writing. There were trade shows and Classics, too. Sometimes, especially as my writing career developed, he’d call with an article idea, or a juicy piece of gossip, or to find out what I knew. Other times, as he made the long drive from the Nutmeg State to the hinterlands of Alabama or Texas, he’d call to complain that he was stuck in horrific northern Virginia traffic.
He’s one of the many people in the fishing industry who I knew well, and felt that I could trust, but didn’t really know where that trust had been born. We’d never been in business together or worked for the same company. As he moved from BASS to FLW and now to a corporate position at Mako sunglasses, we were often in touch even though we’d never even shared a boat.
So when a space opened up on my recent trip to Lake Picachos in Mexico, I figured it was about time to fix that. I was headed down with Field and Stream editor Joe Cermele and Angling Trade World editor Tim Romano. They were there for some fly fishing exploration. I’d never traveled with either of them, and I wanted the fourth person in our party to be fun, easygoing, independent and a capable angler. Also, since the other two were going to be using the long rod, I figured we needed to balance it out with someone slinging conventional tackle. Not sure how I settled on Terry, but I’m glad I did.
If you’re going to take a first fishing trip with a friend, try to make it someplace where the fishing is ridiculously good and where the food and drink are exceptional and plentiful. I’m sorry I waited this long to get in a boat with Terry, but I’m glad that the maiden voyage was at one of my happy places. He’s fun to share a boat with, immensely knowledgeable about the tackle business and the history of the sport, and while his frijoles-based noises are plentiful in the boat, he doesn’t snore, so that’s a plus, too. Now I just need him to show me around on Champlain or Thousand Islands.
It’s amazing how many people I know through fishing who I’ve never actually fished with. I’m going to resolve to change that. That’s not as easy as it sounds for an introvert and loner, but this was a great start.