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Maryland Fishing Challenge

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13MDFW Showcase Images_42013 Maryland Fishing Challenge

The Maryland Fishing Challenge is a free, year-round contest sponsored by the Maryland DNR Fisheries Service to highlight the state’s excellent fishing opportunities. Every angler who fishes legally in Maryland is eligible to participate. The contest runs from September 4, 2012 through September 2, 2013. It is funded by revenue from fishing licenses, gasoline sales surcharges, and a federal excise tax on sport fishing tackle and related equipment. The contest is also supported by generous recreational fishing organizations, individuals and businesses who donate prizes and fishing trips.

All public Maryland waters including freshwater ponds, lakes, impoundments, reservoirs, streams, Chesapeake Bay tributaries, Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Ocean, Chincoteague Bay, Sinepuxent Bay, Isle of Wight Bay, and Assawoman Bay and their tributaries bounded by the Maryland-Delaware line and the Maryland-Virginia line are included in the Maryland Fishing Challenge. Additionally, fish caught while aboard a sport fishing vessel leaving and returning to a Maryland port will be eligible if they meet the other Angler Award criteria.

For information about the Maryland Fishing Challenge or Angler Award program, go to or contact

Contest Components:Fishing120823-015edite_opt

Angler Award Program — Participating is easy — all you need to do is catch and register a fish which meets or exceeds the minimum Angler Award size. There are 60 eligible species in three divisions. Simply check your catch in at an official Angler Award center to receive your entry ticket. Most tackle shops are registered Angler Award Centers. Catch and Release anglers may participate by submitting a clear photograph of the fish and the signature of a witness at an Angler Award center. Fish should be photographed on a tape measure so that the size can be verified. Once you have your entry ticket, complete the online registration at:

After registering, you will receive your Angler Award certificate and information on the Grand Awards Celebration. Prize winners will be randomly selected from attendees at the celebration, which will be held during the Annual Maryland Seafood Festival on September 7, 2013 at Sandy Point State Park. Fishing Challenge Angler Award holders will receive free admission to the Maryland Seafood Festival for the day of the Grand Awards Celebration.

Diamond Jim — In June, July and August, DNR Fisheries biologists and teams of young anglers catch, tag and release striped bass in Chesapeake Bay. Every tag has a unique number designating the striper as a potential Diamond Jim. All tagged fish are worth cash to the lucky angler who catches it. Each month between June and September, one fish will be designated as an official Diamond Jim worth thousands of dollars. Go to for the most current information on the values of tagged fish.

Youth Component —At selected youth rodeo events sponsored by local community and fishing organizations, one youth angler under the age of 16 is chosen to advance to the Grand Awards Celebration. Not all youth rodeos are included in the Maryland Fishing Challenge. Check with the organizer of the rodeo to find out if the winner will advance to the grand awards event. For information on youth rodeos in your area go to

Maryland Fishing Challenge Rules:

General Rules

  1. DNR staff and their immediate families are ineligible.
  2. Professional guides, charter boat captains, crew on for-hire fishing boats, or anyone who offers his fish for sale are ineligible.
  3. All fish must be caught on rod and reel. From the time that a fish strikes or takes bait or lure, the angler must hook and fight the fish without the aid of any other person. The reel must be operated manually. Once the leader is brought to the rod tip, more than one person is permitted to help land the fish.
  4. Fish that have been snagged, shot, gaffed, speared, scaled, or mutilated are not eligible.
  5. The catch must be legal. Anglers should be aware of the fishing rules, eligible fish species and sizes.
  6. Award certificates for sharks, billfish and red drum will only be issued for fish that are caught and released. When registering online, please select the catch and release option under the Catch Summary heading. Exceptions for these species will be made in the case of a state record catch, which requires a weight for the fish.
  7. DNR reserves the right to refuse any Maryland Fishing Challenge application that is not complete or legible.
  8. DNR decisions regarding the Maryland Fishing Challenge will be final.
  9. DNR may approve special Angler Awards in the case of unusual catches or extenuating circumstances.
  10. Submission of photographs authorizes DNR to use them for promotion in all media including the Internet.

Catch and Release Angler Award Program Rules

The Maryland Catch and Release Program rewards anglers who release alive an Angler Award-sized fish, if the species is in season.

  1. Fish must be caught in Maryland waters by rod and reel and released alive.
  2. Fish must be of legal size as measured from tip of jaw to tip of tail.
  3. Fish must meet or exceed the minimum Angler Award length. Lay the fish on a tape measure or ruler to photograph so that the species and size can be verified.
  4. Only one Angler Award per species per day is allowed.
  5. Register the catch including a clear photo and the signature of a witness at an Angler Award center. Digital photos are acceptable.
  6. To advance to the Grand Awards Celebration, catch and release entries must include a clear photograph of the fish and the signature and contact information of a witness.

Thank You!
The Maryland Fishing Challenge would not be possible without the sponsors, individuals, and fishing organizations who donate prizes and fishing trips. The contest is funded via revenue from fishing licenses, gasoline sales surcharges and a federal excise tax on sport fishing tackle and related equipment; and therefore it also depends on contributions from anglers like you. Thanks to all for your generous support!

Maryland State Records


Bob Purcell’s 56-pound snowy grouper

Rules and Procedures

Maryland DNR maintains state records for sport fish and awards a plaque to anglers whose catch exceeds the current state record or establishes a new species category. Positive identification of the species of fish is mandatory for consideration of state record applications. The catch must be inspected in person by a fisheries biologist from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Immerse the fish in ice water until it can be weighed in order to preserve the weight.

Call 443-569-1381 or 410-260-8325 to report a potential state record catch.

  • State record fish are determined by weight. Make every effort to quickly obtain an accurate certified weight, since dead fish lose weight. If you take your catch to an Angler Award center that does not have a Maryland Department of Agriculture-certified scale, a grocery store, mailing and shipping store, or other establishment that sells products by weight may have a certified scale and be willing to help.
  • A Maryland State Record application form ( listing the species, the certified weight, the date the fish was weighed, the witnessing scale operator’s signature, and the name of establishment must be submitted to DNR within two weeks of when the catch was made.
  • Fish must be a species commonly fished for with rod and reel and caught by legal methods during an open season.
  • From the time that a fish strikes or takes a bait or lure, the angler must hook and fight the fish without the aid of any other person. The reel must be operated manually. Once the leader is brought to the rod tip, more than one person is permitted to help land the fish.
  • Fish caught from privately-owned fee-fishing waters are not eligible for record consideration.
  • The fish must be considered trophy sized for DNR to consider opening a new species category for recognition. Thresholds for weight are established by DNR using the best data available to create a benchmark.
  • It is the angler’s responsibility to provide all of the information and a clear photograph.
  • The Maryland Department of Natural Resources reserves the right to investigate the methods used in catching the fish and the accuracy of measuring and weighing. It also reserves the right to reject any application based on the results of the investigation.

State Records
To check current state records visit

Be on the Lookout for Tagged Fish!
The success of tagging studies relies on anglers like you. If you catch a tagged fish, please follow the instructions printed on the tag, or call Fisheries Service at 800-688-3467. Please record the tag number, capture date, fishing location, and total length.


Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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