Rick Snider of Biglerville, Pa., was the top winner in the grand-prize drawing at the Maryland Fishing Challenge Finale last Sunday, walking away with a boat, motor and trailer from Bass Pro Shops and Tracker Boats.
"Aside from my kids, grandkids and wife, this is the most awesome thing to ever happen," said Snider, who qualified for the drawing by catching an Angler Award-qualifying 40.5-inch striped bass off Breezy Point in Calvert County from his sailboat.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources presented more than $70,000 in cash, prizes and merchandise at the celebration of fishing attended by more than 2,000 people, including sponsors, contestants and their guests, at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis.
Since Labor Day 2013, more than 1,000 anglers qualified to participate in the drawing either by catching either an Angler Award-sized fish — a select species above a certain length — or an eligible Diamond Jim-tagged fish. Youth winners of fishing rodeos across the state also won guided trips donated by fishing groups and experts.
Bobby Gibson of Church Hill won an all-expense-paid fishing trip to the Bahamas from the World Fishing Network, with his 24-inch bullhead catfish from South East Creek in Church Hill.
Warren Snoots of Davidsonville, William Albert of Catonsville and Lee Cheyne of Ellicott City each won Bill's Outdoor Center fishing gear and tackle packages. Douglas Combs of Baltimore won a cooler filled with Costa gear.
Forty anglers caught specially tagged rockfish this summer in the Diamond Jim component of the Fishing Challenge. After all corresponding envelopes were opened — and no authentic Diamond Jim was discovered — the anglers split the contest's cash prize of $25,000, taking home $625 each.
In the search for Diamond Jim, three batches of specially tagged striped bass — three genuine Diamond Jims and 230 impostors — 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 impostors were worth at least $500 each for the duration of the contest.
For more information about the year-round contest, go to dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/challenge/index.asp.