Middletown angler wins fishing challenge

DAYTON — Kyle Duff, of Middletown, is the big winner of the 2021 Great Miami Riverway Smallmouth Bass Fishing Challenge held on the Great Miami River.

The challenge is a catch-and-release virtual tournament sponsored by the Great Miami Riverway and the North American River Anglers Association. Participants use the i-Angler app to register and send in their catches.

Duff topped two of the three categories, winning the Top Slam category (total length of five fish) and tying for the Biggest Smallmouth Bass category (19 inches in length).

Gabe Knapke, of Piqua, also won two prizes in this year’s challenge. He caught a 19-inch smallmouth, tying Kyle Duff as a winner in the Biggest Smallmouth Bass category. He also won the First 5 logged fish category, being the first to log five fish in the competition. Other winners include Kyle Grosvenor, of West Milton, and Andrew Carpenter, of Miamisburg.

“Fishing the Great Miami River is something my family has done for many years,” said Duff. “My dad, my grandpa, and I have all fished the Great Miami, and we love it. Smallmouth bass fishing is my favorite, especially in rivers. The Great Miami has gotten so much healthier, and the fish get bigger every year.”

Duff fished several sections of the river, but caught most of his larger fish near Middletown.

Forty six anglers participated in the event, logging 292 smallmouth bass. That’s more than 100 fish over last year’s total.

“The 2021 Fishing Challenge is meant to connect people to the Great Miami River and highlight its tremendous fish diversity,” said Dan Foley, Great Miami Riverway director. “The Great Miami is Ohio’s best river for smallmouth bass fishing,”

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, more “trophy size” smallmouth bass were pulled from the Great Miami than any other river in Ohio between 2014 and 2019.