Key West Woman Scores Historic Win at March Merkin Permit Tournament

Kathryn "Kat" Vallilee of Key West has made history at the March Merkin Permit Tournament, becoming the first woman to win the tournament since its inception in 2006. The Florida Keys event, which targets permit, a notoriously elusive gamefish, saw 25 teams of elite permit enthusiasts take part in the 2023 tournament under challenging fishing conditions. Tournament veteran Vallilee was named grand champion angler after releasing one permit, a fish measuring 21 inches to the fork of the tail, on the final day of fishing. Her victory follows a second-place finish in the 2022 tournament, and she holds three International Game Fish Association world records for permit. The tournament is hosted by the Lower Keys Guides Association, with proceeds benefiting the nonprofit and the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.