Diamond Jim on the Loose in Chesapeake Bay


The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) joined junior anglers Thursday to catch, tag and release a second round of up to 200 specially tagged striped bass, including one genuine Diamond Jim - currently worth $20,000 - into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries as part of the 2011 Maryland Fishing Challenge.

"Now in its seventh year, the Maryland Fishing Challenge showcases Maryland's excellent fishing, featuring accessible, affordable, diverse and high quality opportunities for anglers of all ages," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "We hope to further encourage Marylanders to get outside and enjoy the water."

The first batch of Diamond Jim fish were released in June. This second round brings the number of imposters, worth $500 each, to about 400. A final group of approximately 200 fish will be released in August. This year, for the first time, DNR is guaranteeing a $25,000 payout. If no one catches an authentic Diamond Jim, the $25,000 will be split among those who caught the $500 imposters.

The Maryland Fishing Challenge Citation Award program runs all year long, starting the day after Labor Day and ending the following Labor Day. There are 71 qualifying species in the program. Every angler who catches an award-qualifying fish or a Diamond Jim tagged striped bass and enters the challenge becomes eligible to participate in the grand prize random drawing, to be held during the 43rd annual Seafood Festival on September 10, 2011 at Sandy Point State Park.

This year's citation prizes include a boat and trailer package from Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats, thousands of dollars in fishing gear and trips from Bill's Outdoor Center, a tropical vacation from World Fishing Network and merchandise from Under Armour.

Diamond Jim was originally created during a short-lived fishing contest during the 1950s, when a single specially tagged striped bass was worth $25,000 to the lucky angler who caught him. DNR revived this fun family event in 2005, to promote recreational fishing, highlight Maryland's State fish, recognize angler efforts and inspire natural resources stewardship.

To see the complete citation award species list go to dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/challenge/index.asp?p=species.

To be eligible for the contest, all fish must caught recreationally by rod and reel. Complete rules are available online at dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/challenge.

Note: If you catch a tagged fish, do not remove the tag. Put the fish in your freezer and call the number printed on the tag. A DNR representative will follow up to examine and certify the tag. The Diamond Jim component of this year's challenge ends at midnight on September 5.

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