Blair Wheeler, 25 of Herndon, Va., is the first ever winner of Maryland’s Diamond Jim Rockfish contest. Wheeler won a $25,000 cash prize, a pair of one-carat diamond earrings from Zachary’s Jewelers of Annapolis, and $6,000 in gift cards from participating Maryland tackle shops.
Wheeler caught the winning striper while fishing aboard the charter, Hook Mash out of Deale, as part of a birthday celebration for her brother and husband. The fish was hooked off Tracys Landing, weighing in at 19 pounds. This was Wheeler’s first time fishing in the Chesapeake Bay, and she had only been fishing 10 times total.
In all, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) presented more than $70,000 in cash, prizes and merchandise to lucky anglers at the 2013 Maryland Fishing Challenge Finale.
Through the Angler Award component, those who caught a qualifying species of fish above a certain size were eligible for the grand prizes. During the past year, more than 1,000 anglers qualified to participate in grand prize drawing.
Additionally, the 53 people who caught Diamond Jim imposters received $500 and a five-carat blue topaz charm, courtesy of Zachary’s.
Roy Easter, Jr. of St. Mary’s County won the grand prize of a boat, motor and trailer from Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats. Easter caught an Angler Award qualifying 48.5-inch Striped Bass in the Indian Head area of the Potomac River in late April.
Cary Murray, of Essex, won an all-expense paid fishing trip to the Bahamas from the World Fishing Network, with his 23-inch Brown Trout from the Gunpowder River in March.
Debbie Walbert of Levittsville, Va.; Noah Tomasik, of Lusby; and Michael Remmell, of Baltimore all won Bill’s Outdoor Center grand prize fishing gear/tackle packages.
More information on the Maryland Fishing Challenge including a list of winners is available at dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/challenge/index.asp.
The Diamond Jim contest included three batches of specially tagged striped bass which contained three genuine Diamond Jims and 597 imposters. Diamond Jim’s value increased each month: from $10,000 in June, to $20,000 in July, and $25,000 in August. The imposters were worth at least $500 each for the duration of the contest.
source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)