The power of the permit
April 13, 2011
Sometimes you catch the fish, and sometimes the fish catches you
With a mouth only a mother could love, the permit is the premiere flats trophy. Taking first in the highest level of competition, Mike Dawes of Victor recently boated three of these fish each day in the Florida Keyes to take honors. Photo by Captain Don Gable
For many serious fishermen in Teton Valley, a summer’s worth of angling on area rivers is simply not enough. There are always new techniques to master, new frontiers to experience. The grass is always greener. And at this point in his career, Mike Dawes of Victor has seen a lot of grass.
To watch the Philadelphia Eagles compete in a playoff game with Dawes in earshot is intense. He is fiercely loyal and highly competitive. If you’re not on his team, then good luck. Fish in the same boat as Dawes and you will witness an equally impassioned display, as he demands only the best performance of himself. Anything less is simply not good enough.
After the Super Bowl hype faded away last February, the team that drew Dawes’ devotion was made up of two players, him and Captain Don Gable, a Victor resident who is transitioning to the Florida Keyes.
Together Dawes and Gable took first place in the March Merkin Permit Tournament out of Key West the middle of last month, boating one fish each day for three days in a competition when only ten fish total were held after 78 outings.
A member of the WorldCast Angler team that took first in the Jackson Hole One Fly last year, Dawes in a respected professional throughout the Rocky Mountain West, but the world of competitive saltwater fly fishing is a whole different can of worms. With variable conditions on the flats and higher price tags for trips, fishing for permit ups the ante.
“Everything is at a whole different level with these fish,” Dawes said. “It is truly the Holy Grail. Teamwork between the guide and the angler has to be impeccable. You have to do it right almost all the time. A lot of times, it’s not a catching game. I’ve been in situations when I’m surrounded by fish, and the guide will pull me off of them. Between the weather, the water temperature, the tide, the fly and so many other things, sometimes it just doesn’t happen.”
After Dawes and Gable had caught, measured and tagged one permit each day of the tourney, they thought one more fish had to be caught to confirm first place. One more fish was caught toward the end of the final day, but it all came unbuttoned and Dawes’ shoulders dropped. Once all the boats returned to the harbor and all the results were in, Dawes and Gable felt the weight of their trophies among a peer group that is equally as intense, if not more.
“Fishing that tournament four years in a row with Don, the other competitors knew how hard we had worked over the years,” Dawes said. “We had all ridden the same roller coaster.”
Living the dream throughout the year, Dawes is the President of WorldCast Anglers. After a summer of trips run through his shop locally, he averages seven trips a year outside the valley. From Chile and Argentina to Panama, Mexico, Belize, the Seychelles, Mongolia and other destinations around the world, Dawes is confident that a first place finish in south Florida last month is his highest achievement.