12-Year-Old Silver Spring Boy Wins Grand Prize at Maryland Fishing Challenge Finale
Diamond Jim Anglers Split $25,000 Cash
2012 Fishing Challenge to Celebrate the Life & Times of Lefty Kreh
Annapolis, MD (September 10, 2011) — Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary John Griffin and fishing legend Lefty Kreh presented approximately $70,000 in cash, prizes and merchandise to lucky anglers this morning at the 2011 Maryland Fishing Challenge. Nearly 2,000 people, including sponsors, anglers and their guests, attended the 7th annual contest’s closing ceremony at Sandy Point State Park.
“Fishing is an integral part of Maryland’s heritage and a great way for families to bond by spending time together outdoors,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. ““I would like to congratulate the winners of the 2011 Challenge, and encourage all of my fellow anglers to take advantage of our State’s phenomenal fishing opportunities in time to qualify in 2012.”
Since Labor Day 2010, more than 1,300 anglers qualified to participate in today’s grand prize drawing, 11 of whom also qualified for the Diamond Jim component of the challenge. Youth winners from 20 fishing rodeos across the State also won exciting guided fishing trips.
“This contest would simply not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors, who share our mission to introduce our young people to the joys of fishing and inspire future generations of stewards along the way, ” said Griffin.
Walking away with today’s grand prize of boat, motor and trailer from Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats, was Robert Hamilton, 12 of Silver Spring, Md. Hamilton’s qualifying caught two citation award qualifying white marlin and a blue fish in Ocean City.
“It’s amazing,” said Hamilton. “I can’t wait to tell everyone at school that I won a boat!”
Dickie Russell of Valley Lee, Md., John Brittan Jr. of Hagerstown, Md. and Joe Sanbower of New Windsor, Md. won thousands of dollars in prizes from Bill’s Outdoor Center. Kenny Reasin of won an all expenses paid fishing trip to the Bimini Game Club on Bimini Island in the Bahamas provided by the World Fishing. All contestants received a commemorative shirt, courtesy of Under Armour. Marty’s Sporting Goods in Edgewater, Angler’s Sport Center and Kent Island Kayaks also contributed prizes for the drawings.
Of the lucky anglers who caught specially tagged rockfish this summer, 4 were determined to be Diamond Jim imposters during June and July and the remaining 7 learned their fate at the event. After all corresponding envelopes were opened – and no authentic Diamond Jim was discovered – the 11 lucky anglers split the contest’s cash prize of $25,000. Taking home $2,272.73 each were: Jeffrey Fennell of Prince George's County, Md.; Justin Kerstetter of Spotsylvania, Md.; Emidio Ciccanti of Baltimore, Md.; Nick Szokoly of Cockeysville, Md.; Glenn Gross of Baltimore; Rick Ashley of Edgewater; Mike Little of Great Cacapon, W. Va.; Thom Davis of Keedysville, Md.; Dan Turner of Ellicott City, Md.; Jonalyn Denlinger of Severna Park, Md.; David Huffman of Jersey Shore, Pa.
“I did not know anything about Diamond Jim until I caught the fish,” said Fennell, who caught a 23” tagged rockfish. “It’s a beautiful thing to get young people to come out and fish.”
Participating for the first time in the Challenge event was renowned author and fishing legend, Lefty Kreh. In honor of Kreh’s 75-year career of promoting recreational fishing, conservation and stewardship, the 2012 Maryland Fishing Challenge, which kicked off September 6, will celebrate his life and times.
“Fishing is important for a number of reasons,” said Kreh. “It’s the best way to share time and make lasting memories with family. It’s also an exciting sport because you never know what you’re gonna catch. I’ve been fishing for 80 years and I’m still learning new things every day.”
The youth component of the Maryland Fishing Challenge celebrated 20 lucky young anglers who advanced from DNR-sponsored fishing rodeos this summer. The generous Maryland fishing groups and individuals who sponsored youth trips this year were: Mid-Atlantic Council of Trout Unlimited, Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association, Bass Federation Nation, Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Foundation, Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland, Bill’s Outdoor Center, Skip Zinck, Captain Monty Hawkins, Captain Mike Benjamin, Captain Richie Gaines and Captain Tom Hughes.
“Catch a fish” is one of the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, issued by Governor Martin O’Malley under the Partnership for Children in Nature, an initiative to ensure all young people have the opportunity to connect with their natural world and grow to become informed and responsible stewards.
At the finale, which took place for the second year as part of the Maryland Seafood Festival, The Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Foundation presented Natural Resources Police with a $4,741 check, the proceeds from the sale of Maryland’s lifetime hunting license.
“The Maryland Legislative Sportsmen’s Foundation is a loyal supporter of NRP and DNR as a whole,” said NRP Superintendent Col. George F. Johnson IV. “We certainly have a home for these funds.”
Three batches of nearly 200 specially tagged striped bass – one genuine Diamond Jim and 199 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 in June to $20,000 in July and $25,000 in August. The nearly 600 599 Diamond Jim imposters were worth at least $500 each for the duration of the contest.
Through the citation component, 71 species of fish, 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, were eligible for the grand prizes.
For more information on the Maryland Fishing Challenge including a list of winners, go to www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/challenge/index.asp.