March Merkin Results

March Merkin Results

It’s very likely that by now anyone reading this has heard from other places that the 2023 March Merkin was a grind for everyone. The fishing has been slow lately for permit, and the weather has been beautiful for the last few months, which pushed them offshore earlier than normal. The recent weather was also difficult, which was another layer of difficulty for the teams, and the dates of the tournament coincided with some tides that weren’t as strong as they were last year. All of these things conspired to make the fishing not just tough, but nearly impossible. It was a tournament more fun to watch than to fish in, though even for me the thought of a Merkin without a fish caught was an uncomfortable one. Day one and two passed by without anyone catching anything, and while the weather was much nicer on the last day it still felt like this might be the first year without a fish on the board.
And here it’s worth pointing out that I was not fishing the event myself, though I was involved in support of Kat and Doug. As the person who taught her to cast, her husband and business partner (and baby daddy!), I watched last year from afar as she and Doug led the tournament for the last two days, catching a total of four fish, only to have their hopes for a win vanquished by Justin Rea and Jose Ucan, who posted six fish on the last day for a dramatic first place finish. Typically a loss like this is painful and long-lasting, and many teams have been in a close finish and lost their momentum afterwards. Instead, Kat and Doug worked harder still, in the face of some incredibly challenging fishing this year. They prepared to the point that the prefish day and first two tournament days, yielding no shots at all, didn’t deter them when they got a shot on the morning of day 3. Kat spotted a group of three permit, threw the fly in front of the pack, and caught a permit. Nothing really challenging, nothing out of the ordinary, just another permit for a pair of people who have caught many.
Yet this permit mattered more. It required focus, it required preparation, and the execution of one of the hardest soft-landings in the sport under immense pressure. It required that they shut out the noise of last year, the first three days of not seeing a fish, and just operate on the strength of their efforts to carry them through catching a permit on autopilot. They did, and it was the only fish caught in the tournament. For the fourth time in the tournament’s history, a single team posted points to win the event. And once again, the team that did it was not an outlier but one that had put in the time and The Work:

To both Doug and Kat I’d like to say congratulations of the most serious kind, and I can’t wait to see what more they have in store.
I start fishing tomorrow with Ian, preparing for the Goldenfly and the Gold Cup. The weather is supposed to be horrendous, so I’m sure it will be a blast.

More to come,


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Nathaniel Linville

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