Permit is the target species for fly anglers on the flats during the 2014 March Merkin Permit Tournament scheduled Monday through Thursday, March 17-20.
The angler who catches the most inches of permit earns the title of tournament grand champion. The tournament also is to recognize the grand champion guide, first runner-up and guide, and angler and guide who score the longest single permit.
Participants wishing to sharpen their skills and increase their familiarity with Keys waters can arrive Sunday, March 16, and practice fish Monday, March 17. Early arrivals also can watch "The Drake Fly Fishing Film Tour" set for 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Key West's Tropic Cinema, 416 Eaton St. A 6:45 p.m. reception is scheduled for ticket holders before the show.
The tournament is to begin with a kick-off reception and dinner March 17 at Key West Harbour Yacht Club, 6000 Peninsular Ave. on Stock Island. The club serves as tournament headquarters.
A review of rules and regulations is scheduled during the event, and auction items are to be on display.
Lines are to be in the water from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, March 18-20. Boats must return to the dock, and participants with fish to score must check in at the scorekeeper's table, by 6 p.m. each day.
To count for points, fish must be boated, measured and photographed on the measuring device provided and released alive. Extra points are earned for properly tagging fish.
After each day's fishing, anglers can enjoy appetizers and a cash bar at Key West Harbour Yacht Club. Awards are to be presented at 6 p.m. Thursday, and items are to be auctioned as well.
Proceeds from the tournament are to benefit the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, which helps conserve and enhance global fisheries and habitats of bonefish, tarpon and permit. See www.bonefishtarpontrust.org.
The entry fee is $850 per angler. Licensed guides are allowed to fish as anglers in the permit challenge.
Tournament information and registration: www.marchmerkin.com
Key West visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
Lower Keys visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/lowerkeys or 1-800-872-3722
Florida Keys fishing information: www.fla-keys.com/fishing