ANNAPOLIS (September 22, 2007) Governor Martin OMalley awarded $60,000 in prizes to lucky anglers this morning at the 2007 Maryland Fishing Challenge Finale at Sandy Point State Park. Joseph R. Davis, Jr., of Waldorf, was one of the two grand prize winners netting himself a $20,000 boating package. Mike Mumford of Mechanicsville was also a finalist and walked away with a prize valued near $800.
Officials estimated that over 300 anglers, sponsors, and fishing enthusiasts gathered on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay for the closing event of the third annual contest.
Fishing around Ocean City proved to be the lucky theme of the day, with four of the five semi-finalists having caught their qualifiers in or near Marylands most popular resort town. The five finalists were selected from 128 contestants attending the event by random drawing.
Walking away with the two grand prizes were Bob Spetzler of Berlin (thanks to his proxy, daughter Melissa Spetzler) and Joseph R. Davis, Jr., of Waldorf. Spetzlers catch of a 24.75-inch flounder at the 4th Street Bulkhead in Ocean City caught him a 2007 Toyota TUNDRA from Central Maryland Toyota valued at $36,000. Davis landing of a 66.5-inch wahoo at the hot dog off Ocean City landed him a TRACKER boat, trailer and motor package from BassPro Shops valued at $20,000.
Maryland anglers make a major contribution to our states economy and play a significant role in the stewardship of our waterways and our aquatic life, said Governor OMalley. Hopefully, this contest reminds them of how much they are appreciated, and adds a little extra excitement to summer fishing.
Three other finalists won Bills Outdoor Center prize packages worth over $800 each: Mike Mumford of Mechanicsville, whose qualifying fish was a 23.5-inch Spanish mackerel caught off Cedar Point Hollow in the lower Bay; Walter Slotter of Quakertown, PA, who qualified with a 300-plus pound blue marlin he landed off the tip of Poor Mans Canyon; and Ray Elicker of Red Lion, PA, (represented by proxy Gail Gray), whose qualifying catch was a 29-inch flounder, caught at the Ocean City Inlet.
We are incredibly grateful to our sponsors—Toyota of Central Maryland, Bass Pro Shops, Tracker Boats, Bills Outdoor World, Boaters World and Smyth Jewelers, said Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary, John R. Griffin. Without their very generous and continuing support, this terrific, summer-long event would not be possible.
Prior to the grand prize drawing, all qualifying anglers who attended the event received a contest t-shirt and DNR gift bag, and participated in drawings for more than 50 additional prizes, valued at $2,500 from Bills Outdoor World. A dozen qualifying children also received Shakespeare rod and real packages courtesy of Bass Pro Shops.
The quote of the day came from Spetzlers daughter Melissa, who, when asked why her father wasnt in attendance, responded, Hes probably fishing!
A program of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the 2007 Maryland Fishing Challenge ran from Thursday, June 14, through September 3. This year the Search for Diamond Jim continued, with a potential cash prize of up to $25,000 from Boaters World and a $5,000 diamond from Smyth Jewelers for the capture the Bays most famous fish. While only two Diamond Jim imposters were caught, any angler who caught and reported the catch of one of 60-species of citation-qualifying fish also became eligible for the grand prize drawing.
A total of 228 anglers qualified this year (a 40 percent increase over 2006), representing 21 Maryland counties, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Florida, New York, Washington, D.C., Georgia and Arkansas. Over 60 species of fish were citation-eligible, 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 on the oceanside.
More than 650,000 anglers fish in Maryland each year - not including children under 16 - with an annual estimated economic impact of $1 billion.