The Rod and Reef Slam Fishing Tournament returns for its fourth year in Maryland waters this fall from Oct. 9 to Oct. 17. 

In thisuniquefishing tournament, anglers who catch the most different species offinfishcanwingift cards and prizes worth up to $300. Thefamily-friendlytournament includespowerboat,kayak, and youth divisions.The entry cost is$25and all entrants receive a shirt if registered before Oct. 1.

A contestant in the 2017 Rod and Reef Slam Tournament holds up a toadfish caught while fishing over an oyster reef. Credit: Will Parson/ Chesapeake Bay Program

The contest is designed to highlight the diversity of fish that surround oyster reefs. To do that, anglers will fish in areas where oyster reefs have been restored in Maryland. Anglers will use the iAngler app to document their catches and fishing locations.  

Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Coastal ConservationAssociationMaryland are organizing the contest.

“We’re hoping todemonstrate the value ofoyster reef restoration through this tournament,” said Allison Colden, CBF’s Maryland Senior Fisheries Scientist.“Oyster reefs provide habitat to awiderange of Chesapeake Bay marine life. The reefs areimportant todozens of types of fish, which hunt for foodand use the space between oyster clumps for protection.The reefs are idealfor recreational anglers to target different fish species.”

During the past two centuries, Maryland has lost nearly all its oyster reef habitat due to overfishing, pollution, and disease. The loss of reef habitat has corresponded with less fish than frequent oyster reefs, such as sheepshead, black sea bass, and tautog. However, ongoing oyster reef restoration throughout the Bay is showing signs of success and the potential to lure more of these types of fish back into Maryland waters. Oysters are also valuable in the Bay for their natural filtering abilities. An adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. 

Anglers cast lines in the Chesapeake Bay in northern Maryland.

“If we want more fish in the Chesapeake Bay, we need more oyster reefs,” said David Sikorski, Executive Director of Coastal Conservation Association Maryland, which works to protect the state’s marine resources. “For years now, CBF and CCA have worked together to advocate for and undertake reef restoration. During the past decade, hundreds of acres of Bay bottom have been restored. Fishing in this tournament is a way for us to enjoy that progress and gather information about the types of fish gathering at rebuilt reefs.” 

All anglers who register will also be entered into the new invasive species division this year. The person who catches the longest 3-fish stringer of blue catfish, flathead catfish, or Northern snakehead will be declared the winner of that division. 

Anglers can pick fishing locations ranging from the large-scale restoration tributaries on the Eastern Shore such as Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River, and the Tred Avon River to smaller Western shore restoration sites, including those in the South, Severn, and Magothy rivers around Annapolis. There are more than 100 reefs to fish in the tournament that can be found using the tournament’s interactive map

In previous years, the tournament took place only at oyster reefs on the Eastern Shore. This will be the first year it’s expanded to restore reefs throughout all of Maryland. 

Winners in previousRod and Reef Slamtournaments have caught more than a dozen different species including white perch, spot, toadfish, drum, blue crabs,rockfish,and bluefish.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no formal gathering, but a liveonlineawards ceremony will take place to announce the winners.

Anglers interested in participating can register on the CBF website. More information about the tournament is on the iAngler page.


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