ANNAPOLIS- Four of the five semifinalists in the 2007 Maryland Fishing Challenge, including two of the grand prize winners, caught their qualifying fish in the waters in and around Ocean City during the third annual summer-long contest held around the state.
Of the contest’s five semifinalists, chosen at random from a field of 128 anglers who caught qualifying fish of various species and size at watering holes all over Maryland, four caught their winning fish in the waters around Ocean City. Taking one of the tournament’s grand prizes was Bob Spetzler of Berlin, who caught a 24.75-inch flounder at the 4th Street bulkhead in Ocean City and was rewarded with a 2007 Toyota Tundra worth $36,000.
The other grand prize winner, Joseph Davis of Waldorf, Md., caught a 66.5-inch wahoo at the Hot Dog off the coast of Ocean City and won a Tracker boat, trailer and motor package from BassPro Shops valued at around $20,000. The other two semifinalists who caught there winning fish in and around the resort area included Walter Slotter, of Quakertown, Pa., who caught a 300-pound-plus blue marlin in the Poor Man’s Canyon; and Ray Elicker, of Red Lion, Pa., who caught a 29-inch flounder in the Ocean City Inlet.
The fifth semifinalist, Mike Mumford of Mechanicsville, Md., caught his winning fish- a 23.5-inch Spanish mackerel- in the lower Chesapeake Bay. After the two grand prize winners were announced, each of the remaining semifinalists were rewarded with an $800 prize package from Bill’s Outdoor Center.
A program of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the 2007 Maryland Fishing Challenge ran from Thursday, June 14 through September 3 and included a search for the mythical Diamond Jim, with a potential cash prize of $25,000 and a $5,000 diamond from Smyth Jewelers on the line for the capture of the Chesapeake Bay’s most famous fish. While only two Diamond Jim “imposters” were caught, any angler who caught and reported the catch of one of the 60 species of citation-qualifying fish was eligible for the tournament’s grand prize drawing.
A total of 228 anglers qualified this year, representing an increase of 40 percent over 2006. The anglers represented 21 counties in Maryland as well as Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Florida, New York, Georgia, Washington, D.C., and Arkansas. Over 60 species of fish were eligible including large and smallmouth bass, trout, walleye, musky and panfish in fresh water; rockfish, bluefish, drum, sea trout and perch in the Chesapeake; and tuna, marlin, flounder, kingfish and sea bass on the ocean side.