BREWERTON - The New York BASS Chapter Federation held its second annual Take-A-Soldier-Fishing event April 24 on Oneida Lake for 80 Soldiers from 10th Mountain Division (LI) at Fort Drum.
Many of these Soldiers had recently returned from combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Soldiers arrived around 8 a.m. for registration, followed by coffee and donuts as they mingled with the boaters for introductions.

The ultimate goal of Take A Soldier Fishing is to provide Soldiers an opportunity to decompress and disengage from the mission overseas.

The day's events started with a brief moment of silence in recognition of all service members, followed by the national anthem.

After a safety brief, the partner draw paired Soldiers with boaters who had traveled from as far away as New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Boaters provided Soldiers with rods, reels and tackle for the day's fishing.

Weather conditions could not have been better, as the day provided bright skies, light winds and temperatures in the mid 60s.

Tournament anglers always want an opportunity to come to the scales, so there were specific categories of competition.

Winning for the biggest drum, weighing 7.43 pounds, was boat captain Jesse Herbert and his Soldier team of Shawn Vanderpole and Lee Vasquez. The sunfish / bluegill prize went to boater John Seijak's team of Soldiers Don Ellen and Byron Mack with a 0.52-pound entry.

Mike Donahue piloted his Soldier team of Richard Olsen and Darren Cutrade to the winning rock bass with a weight of 0.81 pounds. In the perch category, the winning entry at 0.45 pounds was a tie between boater Brian Hammond's team of Larry Hyms and Shannon Sherman and boater Randy LaManche's team of Mark Rhodes and Nicole Wright.

Craig Nels guided his Soldier team of Shawn Emond and Shone Warren to the winning bowfin with a weight of 6.33 pounds.

The day's biggest fish went to boater Eric Barker's Soldier team of Tim Shepard and Chad Adair as they brought in a 31.07-pound carp.

All teams reported catching fish throughout the day. After weigh-in, everyone was treated to a cookout-style lunch.

"Most of our members know someone who's in the military or have friends, or friends of family members that are in the military and taking these Soldiers fishing is our way of saying thanks in recognition for what they do for us every day," said NYBCF President Mike Cusano.