News from the DNR Office of Communications

Diamond Jim Imposter Caught!

Hoopers Island man catches $500 fish; $20,000 Diamond Jim still on the Loose!

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — David Short from Fishing Creek, MD, has caught the first tagged striped bass in the 2009 Maryland Fishing Challenge, The Search for Diamond Jim. Short was fishing under the Hoopers Island Bridge when he hooked the 18 inch striped bass. The rockfish – a Diamond Jim imposter worth $500 in prize money – was one of 100 rockfish tagged so far this summer worth up to $20,000.

“I want to congratulate Mr. Short as our first winner in the 2009 Maryland Fishing Challenge,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “The fishing challenge is an opportunity for all Marylanders, like Mr. Short, and their families to get out on the water and enjoy fishing, the summer and our State’s natural resources.”

Over the summer, three batches of 50 specially tagged striped bass – one authentic Diamond Jim and 49 imposters – are being 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 on July 1 -- is now worth $20,000. Also still on the loose are nearly 100 imposters worth $500 each. If July’s Jim is not caught, a newly tagged Diamond Jim released in August will carry a $25,000 price on its head.

“I couldn’t believe it when I caught him. It was pure excitement,” said Short. “I never looked out for the Diamond Jim tag, I usually go for hardhead, not rockfish. I never expected to see one.”

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. Short—and any angler who catches a prize fish – will also be entered into the final awards ceremony in September, and will be eligible for the grand prizes including a boat, motor and trailer from Bass Pro Shops and thousands of dollars in prizes from Bill's Outdoor Center on Deep Creek Lake. Short will receive his reward at the August release of Diamond Jim in Solomons.

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.

“I think kids ought to get back into fishing,” said Short. “It’s something fun, there’s plenty of rockfish, plenty of fish. I’m trying to get my son into it now.”

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.

   July 8, 2009

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

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 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