The Diamond Jim component of the 2012 Maryland Fishing Challenge entered its third and final phase today when a crew of local, volunteer anglers, Chesapeake Bay charter captains and Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) biologists caught, tagged and released more than 150 striped bass into the Chesapeake Bay. One of the tagged fish is the official Diamond Jim worth $25,000 to the angler who catches it between August 1 and midnight September 3, with the other tagged rockfish known as imposters worth at least $500 each. New this month, gift certificates have also been provided by a handful of generous, local tackle shops. So far this year, four potential Diamond Jim fish have been caught and are awaiting certification.
“The Maryland Fishing Challenge is a great opportunity for families and friends to enjoy our State’s great outdoors,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “I encourage all Marylanders and visitors to join in making lasting memories by fishing in our beautiful waters.”
As an exciting added incentive, six Maryland fishing tackle stores – All Tackle of Annapolis, Clyde’s Sport Shop of Landsdowne, Fishbone’s Bait and Tackle in Pasadena, Herb’s Tackle Shop of North East, Marty’s Tackle Shop in Edgewater, and Tochterman’s Tackle in Fell’s Point in Baltimore – are each offering a $1,000 gift certificate to the angler that catches the authentic Diamond Jim.
Additionally, the angler who catches the August Diamond Jim will receive a set of one-carat total weight, round, brilliant diamond stud earrings worth approximately $4,000 from Zachary’s Jewelers in Annapolis. Zachary’s is also providing five- to six- carat blue topaz charms for anglers who catch imposter fish. All told, the value of Diamond Jim for the month of August, including the Zachary’s Diamonds and the tackle store gift certificates, is $35,000.
“The Chesapeake Bay is one of the best places on earth for weddings, proposals, anniversaries, birthdays, and of course, fishing,” said Zachary’s Jewelers owner Steve Samaras. “It just seems appropriate that the quest for a rockfish named Diamond Jim should have diamonds as a prize. All of us at Zachary’s are happy to provide these jewels with sincere hope that on September 8, we will have a winner.”
Over the summer, more than 300 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 Hunt for Diamond Jim is a special summer feature of the Maryland Fishing Challenge, with roots that ran in the late 1950s. The original contest featured a single, tagged striped bass worth $25,000. DNR revived this fun, family event in 2007 to highlight Maryland’s State fish, promote recreational fishing, recognize angler achievement and inspire natural resources stewardship. The contest still features a guaranteed $25,000 payout: If one of the three authentic Diamond Jims is not caught by midnight Labor Day, the cash prize will be split equally among the anglers who catch imposters this summer.
Now in its eighth year, the Challenge showcases Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay as a premier sport fishing destination with accessible, affordable, diverse and high quality fishing for anglers of all ages – from the crystal mountain streams, to the central Maryland lakes and the mighty Potomac River, down to the Chesapeake Bay, the Coastal Bays and the Atlantic Ocean.
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.
Anglers who catch and register any of the more than 80 Maryland Angler Award eligible sport fish species 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 the day after Labor Day through the following Labor Day each year. All fish must be caught recreationally by rod and reel. The Angler Award species list and the official Maryland Fishing Challenge and Diamond Jim contest rules are located 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.
Anglers are invited to follow Diamond Jim on Facebook at facebook.com/diamondjim.md, and DNR Fisheries at facebook.com/MDDNRFisheriesService and on Twitter at @mddnrfish.
More information on the Maryland Seafood Festival is available at www.MDseafoodfestival.com.
Anglers that catch a tagged striper must not remove the tag. They should put the fish in their 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 3.