News from the DNR Office of Communications

Sen. John Astle, Boys & Girls Club Kids Help Tag Fish Aboard Charter Boat

Jarrettsville Man Catches First Diamond Jim Imposter

Annapolis, Md. (July 29, 2010) — State Senator John C. Astle, a passionate activist for hunting and fishing issues and 13 children from the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Boys & Girls Club, ventured out on the Chesapeake Bay today for the final tagging expedition of the 2010 Maryland Fishing Challenge, Featuring Diamond Jim.

The children and the senator, who is chair of the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen Caucus, enjoyed a day of sun, fun and learning about the Bay and its fishing legacy aboard Captain Ed O’Brien’s Semper Fidelis III. Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds anglers that there’s a network of charter boats available to take interested anglers out on the water.

“It’s important for kids to get the opportunity to go fishing so they can experience all the Bay has to offer,” said Sen. Astle. “It was a great joy to see the children catch their first fish. This type of outdoor experience will spark a lifelong interest in fishing and help to create a sense of conservation for the Bay.”

This week also brought the first capture of a Diamond Jim imposter caught Billy Beall of Jarrettsville, MD. Beall was fishing off of Calvert Cliffs, when he hooked the 21-inch striped bass, tagged on May 27. The Diamond Jim imposter, worth $500 in prize money, was one of nearly 600 rockfish tagged so far this summer. The actual Diamond Jim is currently worth $25,000.

“I want to congratulate Mr. Beall as our first winner in the 2010 Maryland Fishing Challenge,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “The fishing challenge is an opportunity for all Marylanders, like Mr. Beall, families and children across the State to get out on the water and enjoy fishing and our State’s beautiful natural resources.”

Over the summer, three batches of up to 600 specially tagged striped bass – one authentic Diamond Jim and the rest imposters – have been released into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Since June’s Diamond Jim eluded capture during its validity period, the current Diamond Jim - which was released today - is now worth $25,000. Also still on the loose are as many as 599 imposters worth $500 each.

“I couldn’t believe it when I caught him. It was a big surprise,” said Beall. “I never looked out for the Diamond Jim tag, it just happened.”

The Maryland Fishing Challenge, Featuring Diamond Jim is a free, year-round tournament sponsored by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service, 27 recreational fishing organizations and generous donors across the State. The purpose of the event is to promote Maryland’s excellent fishing opportunities and the importance of children in the outdoors as an essential key to future environmental stewardship.

The 2010 Maryland Fishing Challenge ends at midnight on Labor Day with a grand awards celebration at Sandy Point State Park to follow in conjunction with the 43rd Annual Maryland Seafood Festival on September 11, 2010. Qualified anglers can vie for grand prizes including a boat, motor and trailer from Bass Pro Shops and a seven-day dream excursion to the island of Tobago courtesy of the World Fishing Network. Other prizes include thousands of dollars in fishing gear, merchandise from Under Armour and fishing trips from Bill’s Outdoor Center.

More than 60 species of fish are eligible during the challenge 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 Chesapeake Bay.

Anglers under age 16 who take part in any of the 50 fishing rodeos across the state and win their event are invited to the finale and guaranteed a “fishing trip of a lifetime,” sponsored by supporting Fishing Challenge organizations.

“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.


   July 29, 2010

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov