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ANNAPOLIS — The hunt is on! The Diamond Jim component of the 2012 Maryland Fishing Challenge kicked off today when Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists and some eager young anglers caught, tagged and released dozens of striped bass into the Chesapeake Bay. One of today’s tagged fish is the official Diamond Jim worth $10,000 to the angler who catches it before midnight on June 30. The other tagged rockfish will be known as imposters worth at least $500 each if caught and registered before September 3, 2012.
“Every year the Maryland Fishing Challenge offers an added incentive for citizens to get out on the water and enjoy our State’s natural resources,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Whether it’s your first time fishing or you’re a seasoned angler, this is a great opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy our natural world."
This year’s challenge honors the life and times of world renowned fly-fishing legend Lefty Kreh. Over his remarkable 75-year career the Maryland native has shared his enthusiasm and skill for fishing through his columns, books and presentations. He is also known for his commitment to Maryland’s natural resources, promoting conservation and clean water, and giving back to the outdoors. Kreh will be honored by Governor Martin O’Malley at the dedication of the Lefty Kreh Fishing Trail in the Hereford Area of Gunpowder Falls State Park on June 11.
Over the summer, as many as 600 imposters worth at least $500 each and one genuine Diamond Jim will be pursued by anglers. Each month Diamond Jim goes uncaught the bounty increases -- from $10,000 in June, to $20,000 in July, and $25,000 in August.
The 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. Additionally, if an angler catches the August Diamond Jim they will receive a set of one-carat total weight, round, brilliant diamond stud earrings from Zachary’s Jewelers in Annapolis. Zachary’s is also providing five- to six-carat blue topaz charms for anglers who catch imposter fish.
Now in its eighth year, the Maryland Fishing Challenge showcases Maryland as a premier sport fishing destination with accessible, affordable, diverse and high quality sport fishing opportunities for anglers of all ages. The fishing challenge would not happen without the help of several corporate sponsors, including Bass Pro Shops, Tracker Boats, Bill’s Outdoor Center, 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.”
Anglers who catch and register any of the more than 80 Maryland Angler Award eligible sport fish species categories will receive certificates of achievement and free passes to the Maryland Fishing Challenge Finale, which will be held in conjunction with the Maryland Seafood Festival at Sandy Point State Park on September 8, 2012. This year’s Celebration will include chances to win a boat, trailer and motor package from Tracker Marine, a tropical vacation package from the World Fishing Network, tackle packages from Bill’s Outdoor Center and Bass Pro Shops and collectable Maryland Fishing Challenge shirts from Under Armour.
The Maryland Fishing Challenge runs annually from Labor Day through the day before the following Labor Day. To be eligible for the contest, all fish must be caught recreationally by rod and reel. To see the Angler Award species list and the official Maryland Fishing Challenge and Diamond Jim contest rules, visit http://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.
Follow Diamond Jim on Facebook at http://facebook.com/diamondjim.md. DNR Fisheries is also on Facebook at http://facebook.com/MDDNRFisheriesService and Twitter, @mddnrfish.
Source: Md. DNR