$20,000 Diamond Jim on the Loose
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$20,000 Diamond Jim on the Loose

A tagged fish

A tagged fish

More than $50,000 in prizes up for grabs during this year’s Fishing Challenge

The hunt continues! The Diamond Jim component of the 2013 Maryland Fishing Challenge entered its second phase when Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists and teams of young anglers caught, tagged and released around 200 striped bass into the Chesapeake Bay. One of the tagged fish is the official Diamond Jim worth $20,000 to the angler who catches him between July 1 and midnight July 31. The other tagged “imposter” rockfish are worth at least $500 each if caught and registered before midnight on September 2, 2013.

“The Maryland Fishing Challenge serves as a year-round reminder of the excellent fishing opportunities our State has to offer, providing the chance for everyone, from first timer to pro, to get outside, have fun and create their own traditions and memories,” said Governor Martin O’Malley.

Over the summer, hundreds of imposters 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, so if Diamond Jim is not caught by midnight Labor Day, the cash prize will be split equally among those who catch imposters.

The first angler to catch Diamond Jim will also receive a set of one-carat diamond stud earrings from Zachary’s Jewelers in Annapolis, and a stack of $1,000 gift cards from participating Maryland tackle shops such as Anglers, AllTackle, Fishbones, Clyde’s, Marty’s, and Herb’s Tackle Shop. These prizes bring the total potential value of Diamond Jim to more than $35,000. Zachary’s is also providing five- to six-carat blue topaz charms for anglers who catch imposter fish.

Now in its ninth year, the challenge showcases Maryland as a premier sport fishing destination with accessible, affordable, diverse and high-quality opportunities for anglers of all ages. Anyone who catches and registers a Maryland Angler Award-eligible sport fish in any of the three categories — nontidal, Chesapeake Bay and coastal — will receive a certificate of achievement and free passes to the Maryland Fishing Challenge Finale ─ to be held in conjunction with the Maryland Seafood Festival at Sandy Point State Park on September 7, 2013. Here, these anglers will have the chance to win great door prizes, including 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; collectable event t-shirts from Under Armour; and fishing gear from a number of local tackle shops.

Combined with the prizes for the Angler Award component of the contest, this brings the total potential prize value of the year-long contest to more than $50,000.

The Maryland Fishing Challenge is a free year-round tournament sponsored by DNR. To be eligible for the contest, all fish must be caught recreationally by rod and reel.

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.

DNR encourages everyone to take advantage of Maryland’s Free Fishing Days; the next is Thursday, July 4.

Follow Diamond Jim and DNR Fisheries on Facebook and DNR Fisheries on Twitter.