On The Hunt For Diamond Jim
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has kicked off the exciting summer component of the 2011 Maryland Fishing Challenge, releasing up to 200 specially tagged striped bass imposters, including one genuine Diamond Jim - currently worth $10,000 - into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Now in its seventh consecutive year, the Challenge showcases Maryland as a premier sport fishing destination for residents and visitors alike, with accessible, affordable, diverse and high quality opportunities for anglers of all ages.
"The Maryland Fishing challenge is a great opportunity for Maryland anglers and their families to get out on the water and enjoy our natural resources," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "The Challenge is open to everyone, from the experienced angler to families fishing with their children for the first time."
Each month during the summer (June, July and August), DNR releases 200 imposters worth at least $500 each and one genuine Diamond Jim. He's worth $10,000 in June, $20,000 in July and $25,000 in August. And for the first time every, this year's contest features a guaranteed $25,000 payout: If one of the three authentic Diamond Jims is not caught by Labor Day, the cash prize will be split equally among the anglers who catch imposters this summer.
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.
The Maryland Fishing Challenge Citation Award program runs all year long, starting the day after Labor Day and ending the following Labor Day. Every angler who catches an award-qualifying fish or a 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.
"We are very grateful to our sponsors and our recreational fishery stakeholders," said DNR Secretary John Griffin. "Without their continued support, this contest would not be possible."
More than 60 species of fish are eligible for the grand prizes, including large and smallmouth bass, trout, walleye, musky and panfish in the freshwaters of Maryland; rockfish (striped bass), bluefish, drum, sea trout and perch in the Chesapeake Bay; and tuna, marlin, flounder, kingfish and sea bass caught in Maryland waters off the Atlantic Coast. Two new species have been added to the list-the blueline tilefish and the blue crab. 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.
"Catch a fish" is included in the Maryland Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights, issued by Governor Martin O'Malley in April 2009. The Bill is part of the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature, an initiative to ensure all Maryland young people have the opportunity to connect with their natural world and grow to become informed and responsible stewards.