Seaford fisherman reels in chance at $1 million

By Ronald MacArthur

Larry Taylor, 33, a Seaford subcontractor, caught a fish that gave him a shot at $1 million in a Maryland fishing tournament. He has been a devoted fisherman his entire life, and has won his fair share of trophies and plaques, but never had quite the excitement he has experienced since he landed the 15 1/4 inch largemouth tagged bass in the Pocomoke River in Snow Hill, Md. on July 3. Taylor, who was one of four finalists in the Maryland $1 Million Fishing Challenge, went to Annapolis on Saturday to participate in the High Fives Money Bags Game on the docks in the downtown area. Each of the four finalists was given a bag with 40 envelopes and allowed to pick the envelopes until they had five that matched. As it turned out, all four finalists ended up with the same prize - a $2,500 gift certificate from Boater's World. The potential prizes included $1 million, $50,000, $10,000 or the gift certificate. "I was a nervous wreck and couldn't sleep the night before," Taylor said. "I knew my chances for the $1 million were tough though because there were only five envelopes with $1 million and 20 with the gift certificates." Taylor had luck on his side just to make the final four in the tournament. He was selected from a field of 102 qualifiers who had all caught one of the 2,000 specially tagged fish released by the state in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The four finalists' names were drawn from a rubber duck pond on July 20. "And my name was the first one drawn," Taylor said.
Taylor was aware of the Maryland tournament because he had some friends who had caught tagged fish. "But I didn't know there were fish in the Pocomoke River," he said. "When I saw that tag glimmering in the water I went crazy in the boat." But he had a problem; the fish had to be verified by a Maryland Department of Natural Resources agent and it was a holiday weekend. Taylor said he came up with a solution very quickly. "The chlorine level was low in our pool at home so we dropped him in. I could have frozen him but I wanted to keep him alive and release him," he said. He had to keep the bass in the pool until it was verified later in the week. "We bought some shiners from Taylored Tackle Shop and fed them to him and we even went in the pool and swam with him. My daughter Jessica didn't want to get rid of him," Taylor said. The fish was verified on July 9 and Taylor promptly returned it to the spot where he caught it - after his daughter netted the fish in the family pool. Taylor said that fishing "keeps him out of trouble." He is preparing to represent Delaware in a tournament in Maine (he was on the Delaware team in New Hampshire last year). He will have some new gear to take with him - thanks to the lucky fish he caught in the Pocomoke River.

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