A Dallas Angler Clinches Victory at the Prestigious March Merkin Permit Tournament

In an exhilarating turn of events deep in the Florida Keys, Robert Dougherty of Dallas, Texas, clinched victory at the 2024 March Merkin Permit Tournament, an event that wrapped up on March 14. Dougherty’s masterful catch-and-release of two permit fish, both reeled in on the nail-biting final day of the competition, scored a combined length of 130 centimeters. This impressive feat, measured to International Game Fish Association standards, earned him the grand champion angler title in one of the world’s most competitive catch-and-release permit challenges.

The tournament, a staple since 2006, is celebrated for its dedication to sustainable fisheries management and support of the sport-fishing community, organized by the noble Lower Keys Guides Association. According to the association's executive director, Allison Delashmit, "This year has been phenomenal, with 11 fish caught, marking it as one of the best years in recent history."

The first runner-up, Mike Ward from Spokane, Washington, and guided by Brandon Cyr of Key West, wasn't far behind, releasing two permit with a combined length of 115 centimeters. Meanwhile, the tournament saw its largest individual permit, a 77-centimeter beauty, caught by Jose Ucan of Punta Allen, Mexico, securing him the second runner-up spot.

Beyond the fierce competition, the tournament featured a silent auction, raising over $63,000 for the Lower Keys Guides Association and the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, showcasing the angling community's commitment to conservation.

As the dust settles on this year’s March Merkin, the angling world watches with bated breath, already anticipating next year's showdown. Whether you're an angling aficionado or simply a lover of the great outdoors, this tournament is a testament to the spirit of competition, the joy of fishing, and the importance of ecological stewardship. Stay hooked for more tales from the deep!