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After long wait, Bellefontaine angler bags top prize

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Duane Fry enjoyed the day on Saturday (August 9) that he’s been looking forward to for more than 20 years. After all those years fishing as a co-angler on the Walmart Bass Fishing League, he finally took home a first-place trophy.

Fry, 70 of Bellefontaine, was fishing in the Buckeye Division tournament out of Tanner’s Creek on the Ohio River near Lawrenceburg, Ind.

“I was fishing with Bill Spivey. He’s a real good fisherman, but on this day he didn’t get a fish. I’m telling you it was really tough to get a bite. Plenty of good fishermen were skunked,” Fry said.

He said he picked up one fish early in the morning on the main river. Then they went up Tanner’s Creek and spent 5-hours working the shorelines with no success. At about 1:45 p.m. that changed.

“For about five minutes … bang, bang … I got two hits and put two more in the boat,” Fry said. “Bill told me he thought I just won the tournament (co-angler). And he was right.
“For five minutes, I had a bait (Brush Hog) in the water when they decided to eat. Then it was all over.”

Fry said he has spent his 20-plus years of tournament fishing in the back of the boat as a co-angler because he always goes to tournaments with his son, Dan Fry of Marysville.

“When he was 16 years old, I bought him a 16-foot bass boat and he started fishing in club tournaments. One day he didn’t have anyone to go with him and asked me to step in. Now, I was a walleye fisherman on Lake Erie, but I said I would … and I’ve been bass fishing ever since,” Fry said.

When Fry and his son go to events like the BFL, rules say they can’t fish together. So Fry’s name goes into a hat and he is drawn by another boater.

“It doesn’t bother me (to fish as a co-angler with smaller prize money) because I have met so many great people and have fished with them,” he said.

Fry’s three bass weighed 5 pounds, 12 ounces. His first-place check was $1,958. He also had the big bass, good for another $260.

The top boater was Carl Justice of Sharonville with five bass for 10.5 pounds and a check for $3,926. Finishing second was Cody Seeger of Lewistown with 10 pounds for $1,963. Keith Wheelock of Beavercreek had five bass at 7.15 and won $785 for fifth place. Dan Fry came in 21st, winning $255.

Behind Duane Fry in the co-angler division were Gary Johns of Piqua, third; J.R. Selke of Waynesville, fourth; and two Hamilton fishermen, Ryan Sykes in fifth and Jimmy Bean seventh.

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