ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Rod and Reef Slam Fishing Tournament returns for its fourth year in Maryland waters this fall from Oct. 9 to Oct. 17.
In this unique fishing tournament, anglers who catch the most different species of finfish can win gift cards and prizes worth up to $300. The family-friendly tournament includes powerboat, kayak, and youth divisions. The entry cost is $25 and all entrants receive a shirt if registered before Oct. 1.
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 Conservation Association Maryland are organizing the contest.
“We’re hoping to demonstrate the value of oyster reef restoration through this tournament,” said Allison Colden, CBF’s Maryland Senior Fisheries Scientist. “Oyster reefs provide habitat to a wide range of Chesapeake Bay marine life. The reefs are important to dozens of types of fish, which hunt for food and use the space between oyster clumps for protection. The reefs are ideal for 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 that 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.
“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 restoration reefs throughout all of Maryland.
Winners in previous Rod and Reef Slam tournaments 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 live online awards ceremony will take place to announce the winners.
–Chesapeake Bay Foundation