Key West Woman Scores Historic Win at March Merkin Permit Tournament

Key West's Kathryn "Kat" Vallilee has made history by becoming the first woman to be named grand champion angler at the March Merkin Permit Tournament. The tournament aims at catching the famously elusive permit game fish. After a challenging competition, Vallilee emerged victorious by releasing a 21-inch permit fish on the final day, securing her success. Vallilee has appeared in the March Merkin tournament before and finished second in 2022. Moreover, she holds three International Game Fish Association world records for permit fish -- the women's tippet permit records in 4-pound, 6-pound and 8-pound line classes. The March Merkin tournament, which started in 2006 and saw 25 teams take part this year, benefits the Lower Keys Guides Association and the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, supporting conservation efforts for bonefish, tarpon, and permit fisheries and habitats in the Western Hemisphere.