Perryville Man Wins Grand Prize at Maryland Fishing Challenge Finale

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On September 18, 2009 Lt. Governor Anthony Brown presented approximately $30,000 in prizes to lucky anglers at the 2009 Maryland Fishing Challenge finale. Approximately 1,000 people – including sponsors, anglers and their guests – attended the contest’s fifth annual closing ceremony held at Sandy Point State Park.

“Here in Maryland, recreational fishing is an important part of our culture, our heritage and our quality of life,” said Lt. Governor Brown. “I want to thank our generous sponsors for their support of these efforts, and our anglers for continuing to make a major contribution to our state’s economy and play a significant role in the stewardship of our waterways and our aquatic life.  Together, we are committed to making sure fishing in Maryland remains affordable, accessible and memorable.”

Nearly 1,500 anglers from as far away as California qualified to participate in today’s grand prize drawing. As an added youth component, children participating in various fishing rodeos across the State qualified for a unique category for the chance to win a guided fishing trip.

Walking away with the grand prize today was David Wilhelm of Perryville, Md. Wilhelm’s catch of a 40.8-inch striped bass off of Tilghman Island on May 10 won him a boat, motor and trailer from Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats.

“My family and I attended last year’s finale event and didn’t win anything, not even a door prize,” said Wilhelm. “I’m definitely glad that I came back for this year’s finale. I’m so excited about this new boat and I can’t wait to get out on the water.”

Additional winners included Greg Howell of North East, Md. who won a prize package worth $1,500 from Bill’s Outdoor Center. Dan Baker from Millersville, Md. and Norm Bogarde from Mt. Airy, Md. won $1,000 prize packages each, also from Bill’s Outdoor Center. Joan Putt of Lebanon, Pa. received $500 from Bass Pro Jewelry.

In addition, during this year’s contest, six lucky anglers also caught specially tagged rockfish.  John Sparrow of Waldorf, Md., Russell Knapp of Galesville, Md., David Short of Fishing Creek, Md., Chery Duffy of Sterling, Va. and Dolan Hurley of Cambridge, Md. received checks for $500 each for their catches, who were confirmed as Diamond Jim imposters. Mike Lyons of Denton, Md. – who caught the last Diamond Jim tagged striped bass in the contest – learned at the event that he too had caught a $500 Diamond Jim imposter.

Lucky young anglers from across the State were awarded guided fishing trips:

* Caleb Williams of Baltimore, Md. and Krista Josenhans of Mandela Springs, Md. will receive guided fishing trips on one of Maryland’s trout streams sponsored by Mid Atlantic Trout Unlimited;

* Edward Kramer of Baltimore, Md. and Connor Poole of Little Orleans, Md. each won a bass fishing trip courtesy of the Maryland Bass Federation;

* Joshua Green of Salisbury, Md. and Emily Mills of Delmar, Md. will each receive a Chesapeake Bay fishing trip from the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association;

* Theotis Shenett of Baltimore, Md. and Chris Probst of Ridgely, Wv. each won a fishing trip of their choice from the Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland;

* Rachael Wolfkill of Baltimore, Md. and Alijah Metz of Cumberland, Md. each won a trophy rockfish fishing trip off of either Annapolis or the Eastern Shore courtesy of the Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Association; and

* Matt Utrera and Kijia Davis, both of Baltimore, Md., won a Chesapeake Bay fishing trip made possible by the Maryland Charter Boat Association.

“This year we opened the competition to hundreds of young anglers through fishing rodeos held all over our state, and it’s especially inspiring to see so many kids out here today,” said DNR Deputy Secretary Eric Schwaab. “Over 17,000 miles of waterways in our state beckon for us to take part in this great outdoor tradition with our friends and neighbors, and most importantly, our kids. When you take the time to spend time with a child outdoors — whether it’s fishing, camping, or a weekend hike — you are part of this movement, helping to inspire stewardship among tomorrow’s leaders.”

Lt. Governor Brown also presented Lois Burton, wife of the legendary outdoor writer and angler Bill Burton, with a framed copy of this year’s Challenge poster. Burton, who was instrumental in both establishing the original Diamond Jim tournament in the 1950s and its return in 2007, recently passed away in August. This year’s Challenge celebrated his life and work, and recently the Board of Public Works voted to name the Choptank River Bridge fishing pier Bill Burton Fishing Pier State Park in his honor.

Created to promote recreational fishing in Maryland, recognize angler efforts and inspire natural resources stewardship, the 2009 Maryland Fishing Challenge started June 1 and ran through Labor Day, September 7, 2009.

Three batches of 50 specially tagged striped bass – one genuine Diamond Jim and 49 imposters — were released into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries this summer. Diamond Jim’s value increased each month from $10,000 if caught in June, $20,000 is caught in July and $25,000 if caught in August, and the 49 Diamond Jim imposters are worth $500 each for the duration of the contest.

Through the citation component, more than 60 species of fish were 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.

“Catch a fish” is one of the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, issued by Governor 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.

source: DNR press release

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