KEY WEST, Florida Keys—Idaho angler Mike Dawes caught and released two permit to win the 2016 March Merkin Permit Tournament that ended on March 17.

A resident of Victor, Dawes scored 209 points to become the tournament’s grand champion angler. He released both permit, which measured 26 inches and 26.25 inches, on the challenge’s first fishing day. Dawes fished with Captain Will Benson of Sugarloaf Key, Florida, who was named guide to the grand champion.

The tourney’s first runner-up angler was Sam Kaufman of Islamorada, Florida. Guided by Islamorada’s Captain Jared Raskob, Kaufman released two permit with a combined point total of 129. Mike Ward of Spokane, Washington, was named second runner-up angler for releasing one permit worth 120 points. He also earned honors for scoring the tournament’s largest single catch, a fish measuring 30 inches. Ward’s guide was Captain Don Gable of Key West. (Gable also guided Dawes to a March Merkin win in 2011.)

Twenty-six teams of permit enthusiasts fished the tournament. Proceeds benefit the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust and the Lower Keys Guides Association.

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Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.

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