Meet Diamond Jim In Southern Maryland Waters

There may not be gold in Southern Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay and tributary waters but there are some greenbacks with fins to be had if you catch one of the infamous “Diamond Jim” tagged fish. The 6th Annual Maryland Fishing Challenge has been underway since May of this year and continues through Labor Day weekend. Among the eligible species are striped bass that were caught, tagged and released in 3 separate groups, with the most recent ones released in Maryland waters during late July, 2010.
Each month since May, one of these tagged stripers was designated a Diamond Jim fish. If caught during the month of its eligibility, they are worth $20,000. If these fish are not caught within the month period they are released, another tagged striped bass worth $20,000 is released the next month. If no one catches the Diamond Jim striper from the first two groups of released fish then the one tagged and released for August is worth $25,000! Those who may happen to catch one of the previous Diamond Jim stripers are not without reward; these previously tagged stripers become “Diamond Jim Impostors” worth $500.
Recent History
This year’s release of Diamond Jim stripers began on May 24. The first group of striped bass totaling 177 fish were released, signaling the opening of the 2010 Maryland Fishing Challenge.  On June 29, 200 more stripers were released and became the second batch of tagged potential prize winning fish. The exact location of released striped bass is not revealed but we all know striped bass follow baitfish and the habitat haunts that their food source needs. By the end of summer, Maryland’s DNR will have released a total of 600 tagged striped bass into Chesapeake Bay and its tributary waters. In late July, after the last batch was caught, tagged and released, they will join 60 species of fish eligible for prizes. Along with striped bass, bluefish, drum, sea trout and perch in the Chesapeake Bay; and tuna, marlin, flounder, kingfish and sea bass that are caught in Maryland’s Atlantic Coastal waters, are eligible for the contest.
Ways to Win
If  you catch a tagged fish that qualifies for an award during the 2010 Maryland fishing challenge that also makes you eligible for the grand prize drawing, at the end of the tournament.  A boat and trailer package from Bass Pro Shops is awarded the lucky recipient. Other prizes include fishing gear, Under Armour clothing, fishing trips sponsored by Bill’s Outdoor Center and a seven-day vacation trip provided by the World Fishing Network to the island of Tobago. Competition is open to anglers of all ages and levels of experience
Labor Day Finish
The 2010 Fishing Challenge contest continues through midnight, on Labor Day. The awards take place to coincide with the 43rd Annual Maryland Seafood Festival at Sandy Point State Park on September 11, 2010. Visit the Maryland DNR website at  http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/challenge/index.asp  for rules, regulations and information on what to do if you catch a tagged fish during the 2010 Maryland Fishing Challenge. For additional information, e-mail Keith Lockwood at klockwood@dnr.state.md.us or call him at (410) 226-0078, Ext 107.
Water Trails in St. Mary’s
Maryland’s DNR and local government offices have created a guide to water trails that features tributaries of the St. Mary’s County peninsula. Water Trails in St. Mary’s County: Explore the Trails of the Tidal Potomac has maps and information that detail paddling routes along several waterways along the county’s western reaches. Printed on waterproof, tear-proof paper the guide is designed for those touring by kayak and canoe. It includes public boating access information and amenities managed by St. Mary’s County Recreation and Parks. Copies can be obtained from the St. Mary’s County Department of Recreation and Parks, St. Mary’s Division of Tourism, and DNR’s Boating Services. An electronic version can be viewed and downloaded at www.visitstmarysmd.com. Free copies can be requested by calling 1- 800-327-9023 or by visiting the website www.dnr.state.md.us/boating

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