News from the DNR Office of Communications

Diamond Jim Valued At $10,000 On The Loose

2009 Maryland Fishing Challenge Features Cash and Prizes, Celebrates Journalist Bill Burton

Annapolis, Md. - Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff and special guest Bill Burton today kicked off the 2009 Maryland Fishing Challenge, The Search for Diamond Jim, by releasing specially tagged striped bass into the Chesapeake Bay off of Chesapeake Beach. The 5th annual challenge – which also includes a citation component -- celebrates the life and career of the legendary outdoor writer and angler, who was inducted into the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association Hall of Fame in April.

“Whether experienced anglers or first-timers, our annual fishing challenge offers Maryland families and visitors the chance to win prizes while enjoying our exceptional waterways and recreational fishing opportunities.” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “We are especially pleased that this great Maryland tradition this year celebrates another of our State’s great resources, Bill Burton.”

This week 50 specially tagged striped bass – one genuine Diamond Jim and 49 imposters -- were released into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The real Diamond Jim is worth $10,000 cash if caught by midnight June 30, 2009, and the 49 Diamond Jim imposters are worth $500 each for the duration of the contest. Additional tagged fish will be released at the beginning of July and August at which point any previously released and uncaught Diamond Jim becomes an imposter. The newly released Diamond Jim’s value will increase, to $20,000 in July and $25,000 in August, if the preceding Jims remain on the loose.

The Diamond Jim component of the 2009 Fishing Challenge is a reincarnation of the popular tournaments of the 1950s. Bill Burton, who has reported on outdoor recreation and Chesapeake Bay issues for more than 50 years, was influential in bringing Diamond Jim back to the new contest.

“It’s very satisfying because we’ve been able to bring the challenge back to life and keep it living,” said Burton. “It reminds us of the days when people were really getting interested in fishing for rockfish and brings a lot of promotion for the Chesapeake Bay and its stripers.”

Created to promote recreational fishing in Maryland, recognize angler efforts and inspire natural resources stewardship, the 2009 Maryland Fishing Challenge will run through Labor Day, September 7, 2009. Any angler who catches a citation-qualifying fish and enters the challenge becomes eligible to participate in the grand prize drawing, which includes a boat and trailer package from Bass Pro Shops and thousands of dollars in fishing gear and trips from Bill’s Outdoor Center.

“We are particularly grateful to this year’s sponsors and our recreational fishery stakeholders,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “Without their support, this contest would not be possible.”

More than 60 species of fish are eligible for the grand prizes, 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 Atlantic Coast. Grand prize winners will be randomly selected at a closing ceremony in mid-September.

As an added youth component, children participating in various fishing rodeos across the State may qualify for a unique category and win a guided fishing trip. Last year 12 children won trips donated by Maryland charter boat captains, which are currently being scheduled and will take place throughout the summer.

“Catch a fish” is one of the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, issued by Martin O’Malley in April. 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.

Complete Rules are available online at

   May 28, 2009

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 449,000 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 12 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