Has Diamond Jim Been Caught?

Has Diamond Jim Been Caught?
Has Diamond Jim Been Caught?

Glenn Gross of Baltimore, Md. has caught what may be the $25,000 Diamond Jim winner and second certified tagged rockfish of the 2011 Maryland Fishing Challenge. Gross was fishing with a group of friends and coworkers aboard the charter boat "Never Enuff," skippered by Captain Shawn Pruitt, in the Chesapeake Bay off of Calvert County, when the 22-inch striped bass came to the side of the boat on the afternoon of July 31.

"The Maryland Fishing Challenge showcases our State's fishing opportunities as second to none," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "I would like to congratulate Mr. Gross and wish good luck to all anglers in the final week of the contest."

DNR biologists certified the catch and confirmed that it could be the winning Diamond Jim. Gross will find out if his fish is the $25,000 winner when he opens a sealed envelope bearing the tag number of the fish he caught at the Maryland Fishing Challenge Finale to be held during the 43rd annual Seafood Festival on September 10, 2011 at Sandy Point State Park.

"Not only did catching this fish make an already enjoyable fishing trip more exciting, it will make me want to take more trips in the future,' said Gross. "Captain Shawn Pruitt did a great job putting us on our fish, and everyone aboard caught fish."

Over the summer, three batches of specially tagged striped bass - one authentic Diamond Jim and the rest imposters - have been released into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The current Diamond Jim is worth $25,000. Also still on the loose are as many as 599 imposters worth $500 each. Zachary's Jewelers also added to the prize pool, giving away a set of diamond stud earrings valued at approximately $4,000 to the angler who catches the authentic Diamond Jim. If no one catches the authentic Diamond Jim- worth $25,000- the money will be split among those who caught the imposters.

The Diamond Jim contest has really excited the anglers we take out. Before we leave the dock for each trip, we make sure to tell them about the contest and to keep a lookout for the bright green tags that could be worth up to $25,000. Sure enough, Mr. Gross caught one. We'll be hoping he caught the real Diamond Jim and pulling for him at the final awards ceremony."

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 at the Maryland Fishing Challenge Finale.

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, click here.

To be eligible for the contest, all fish must caught recreationally by rod and reel. Complete rules are available here.

Note to anglers: 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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