Local anglers reeled in some impressive catches at the Etowah River Open Kayak Fishing Competition on Saturday, March 16. 

From 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., fourteen anglers fished from the upper Etowah River to Lake Allatoona. The Etowah River is particularly significant to the Canton area and Cherokee community, as it winds through the heart of downtown Canton and is an ecosystem for many native species. 

Michael Murphy, founder of Murph’s Surf, a sponsor for the event, says, “Our events serve as a platform to showcase the unique beauty and biodiversity of the Etowah River, which is a crucial part of our community.” 

He also discussed the business benefits of the Etowah River. “For several years, we have been organizing river trips, and this event is another exciting opportunity to highlight the river’s recreational potential. All our trips end at The Mill on Etowah, so 85 to 90 percent of our customers eat and shop in Canton when they are done.”

What a Catch

Anglers took photos of their fish and submitted them in the fishing app TourneyX. 

Anglers ranked based on the total length of their five longest fish according to Travis Dockins, event organizer with Frazier & Deeter, whereas in a traditional fishing tournament, rank is determined by weight. 

First place winner Craig Dye’s catches totaled 81.50 inches.

Etowah River Open / Photo Credit: Jacky Cheng, Digital Content Specialist, City of Canton

Craig Dye (L), the winner of the Etowah River Open, is recognized on stage with Travis Dockins (R) at The Mill on Etowah. (Photo Credit: Jacky Cheng/City of Canton)

With twelve years of kayak fishing experience, Craig knew what to expect from this competition. 

“When we lived here in Atlanta I started fishing on the Chattahoochee River around Morgan Falls Dam,” Craig says. “My wife and I moved to Tennessee. That’s where I started fishing competitively in Nashville. I started fishing events all over the Southeast. It’s something I’ve always had a passion for. I grew up fishing in Louisiana. It’s something I’ve been doing for a long time, and it turned into something bigger than a hobby.”  

This experience helped Craig learn the fish’s behaviors. 

“When water gets muddy and high, fish go towards shallow water,” Craig says. “I did well in the tournament because I knew the water was muddy, and I knew the fish would be shallow.” 

Craig also says his half-ounce Georgia Blade spinnerbait lure helped him reel in his winning bass. 

While anglers had eight hours on the water, Craig won the tournament in just a few. 

“I had to get off the water at noon because my son had a lacrosse game, so I actually didn’t fish for the last three hours of the tournament,” Craig says. “That made it a little more exciting for me, having to fish [fewer] hours than everybody else.” 

Competitors paid into a prize pot, and the top 10 percent of winners received cash prizes. Craig took home a prize of $250. 

Second and third place runners-up Andy Middleton and Rich Johnson’s totals clocked in at 76.25 and 69.5 inches, respectively.

Etowah River Open / Photo Credit: Jacky Cheng, Digital Content Specialist, City of Canton

Second-place winner Andy Middleton (center) celebrates with his children. (Photo Credit: Jacky Cheng/City of Canton)

The Mill on Etowah is at 225 Reformation Parkway in Canton. Murph’s Surf is located inside the shoppes at The Mill on Etowah. 



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