Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff kicked off the 2010 Maryland Fishing Challenge featuring Diamond Jim today by releasing specially tagged striped bass into the Chesapeake Bay at several locations throughout the State. The sixth annual challenge encourages Marylanders to enjoy the State's recreational fishing opportunities and offers a $10,000 prize for the angler who catches a specially tagged striped bass named Diamond Jim.
"The Maryland Fishing challenge encourages anglers of all ages and experience levels to enjoy our waterways," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "This is a great opportunity for Marylanders to spend time with their families, enjoying the beautiful natural resources Maryland has to offer."
Up to 200 specially tagged striped bass including imposters and one genuine Diamond Jim were released into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The actual tagged Diamond Jim is worth $10,000 if caught in June, $20,000 in July and $25,000 in August. Diamond Jim imposters are worth $500 each for the duration of the contest, which ends Labor Day, September 6, 2010. Additional tagged fish will be released throughout the summer.
The Diamond Jim component of the 2010 Fishing Challenge was originally created in the 1950s. One rockfish (striped bass) was specially tagged and whoever caught this lucky fish was given a $10,000 prize. Although the 1950s contest was short-lived, DNR revived this fun family event five years ago, aiming to promote recreational fishing in Maryland, recognize angler efforts and inspire natural resources stewardship.
As featured in previous contests, any angler who catches an award-qualifying fish and enters the challenge becomes eligible to participate in the grand prize drawing, which in the past has included a boat and trailer package from Bass Pro Tracker Shops and thousands of dollars in fishing gear and trips from Bill's Outdoor Center. New sponsors for the 2010 challenge include the World Fishing Network and 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. Grand prize winners will be randomly selected at a closing ceremony during the 43rd annual Seafood Festival on September 11, 2010 at Sandy Point State Park.
"Catch a fish" is one of 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.
Complete rules are available online at www.dnr.maryland.gov/fishingchallenge