We recently hosted the 3rd Annual Palometa Club Permit Tournament, April 10-17. The Palometa Club once again teamed up with Patagonia Clothing Company and Hatch Reels as the lead sponsors for the annual event to benefit the Jon Ain Fund at Bonefish Tarpon Trust as well as the schoolchildren of Punta Allen, Mexico. The event raised over $6000 in charitable proceeds from the entry fees, calcutta, and individual donations!
Many thanks to our sponsors for helping us promote the event as well as provide thousands of dollars worth of prizes and giveaways for the participants and guides. Sponsors included Patagonia Clothing Company, Hatch Outdoors, Tailwaters Fly Fishing Company, TFO Fly Rods, Yeti Coolers, Flood Tide, Umpqua, Smartshield sunblock, Fishpond, Winston Rods, Fishpond, and Country Pleasures Fly Shop in Calgary, Alberta. The swag bags and prizes for both anglers and guides were completely over the top this year thanks to our incredible sponsors!
The field consisted of seven, 2-man angler teams as well as seven, 2-man guide teams. Anglers rotated among guide teams throughout the course of the week based upon a draw. We had a biggest fish category (single angler award) as well as a team category based on a points-per-inch scoring system; not unlike the famed March Merkin tournament in Key West. The field was made up of many repeat Club faithful, past champions, as well as a fresh batch of new blood as well. We could not have dreamt up a more compatible and fun group of guests.
Angler teams were as follows:
- Casey Sheahan & Scotty Rodgers
- Mike Gifford & David Leake
- Mike Thompson & Mark Harbaugh
- Matt O’Connor & Mike Martini
- Bill Shaughnessy & Justin Miller
- Barrett Clark & Wes Smith
- Brad Edwards & Jeff Kozak
Also in attendance was Matt Jones from The Fly Photo who helped document the trip and tournament through their incredible video and images.
The tourney crew enjoyed a week of stunning conditions with lots of sun, a few days of scattered clouds, and a normal dosage of manageable wind. There were not a ton of fish around be Ascension Bay standards, however numerous permit were brought to hand. There was also no shortage of blown opportunities, crushed/spit flies, the expected refusals – and a few first permit landed.
Despite all the pomp and circumstance associated with the tourney week, evening diners and cocktail hour(s) maintained the normal mellow and laid back vibe that makes the Palometa Club such a unique and fun experience for guests. Incredible meals, an abundance of booze, good music, loads of camaraderie, and plenty of laughter was only interrupted by Justin Miller’s trash talking at the ring toss or the occasional buzzing aerial drone flight by Matt Jones.
The awards ceremony was lively with incredible prizes from our sponsors. Hatch Reels generously donated seven 7+ Mid Arbor Reels, fly lines, and leaders/tippet to winners. Patagonia sported Storm Front backpacks, shirts, sling packs, and much more. TFO stepped up with 4 Mangrove Fly Rods, Winston with a 990-4 B3mx, Fishpond and Umpqua with luggage and packs. Just to name a few. The 2015 champs again earned beautiful silver belt buckles crafted by Wes Groot with City Boy Forge. Following awards the guides carried out the casting competition with Johnny defending his 2014 title. The party with the guides that ensued following the awards and casting was beyond festive and probably shouldn’t be documented in writing!
Biggest Permit Category
- Angler: Mike Thompson (23.5 Pounds)
- Guide Team: Korreano and Tony
Most Points Team Category Champions
- Angler Team: Mike Gifford & David Leake
- Guide Team: Big Julio & Sammy
Most Points Category Runner Ups
- Angler Team: Mike Thompson & Mark Harbaugh
- Guide Team: Carlos and Julio “Nino”
FUNDRAISING FOR BONEFISH TARPON TRUST AND SCHOOLCHILDREN IN PUNTA ALLEN
The idea for a tournament on Ascension Bay originated in part thanks to inspiration from the recently deceased, Dr. Jon Ain. Among dozens of other credentials, Jon was a board member at the Bonefish Tarpon Trust, founder and director of the March Merkin Tournament in Key West, and perhaps the greatest permit angler of our time. With over 300 fly-caught permit on his resume, Jon was most notably the permit’s (and their habitat) greatest advocate. He raised tens of thousands of dollars for BTT, and helped launch today’s Project Permit program with BTT, who’s mission is the guide permit research and conservation. Jon was also a lover of Ascension Bay, Punta Allen, and the people and fish who live there. Following his death to cancer in 2013, it was a no brainer to create a charitable benefit associated with the tournament in his honor. Since the first annual tourney is 2013, the Palometa Club Permit Tourney has raised over $14,000 to date for the Jon Ain Fund!
THANKS TO PALOMETA CLUB STAFF AND GUIDES
A sincere shout-out must go to Dick and Kaye Cameron for hosting this circus each and every year. It is a stressful and costly endeavor to house and entertain such a large crew with so many moving parts. They always pull it together gracefully to create a fun and festive atmosphere for all. Rosie, Fina and Maribele produce culinary fireworks with every meal and always have a huge smile on their face. Our ever-reliable driver, Manny, perseveres up and down the road to and from Punta Allen almost daily delivering clients to and fro safely and timely with no sign of fatigue. Carlos and other behind the scenes house staff bust their butts day in day out, and Club Mascot, Digger, keeps the Iguanas at bay. Finally, the guide staff at the Palometa Club personifies professionalism and experience on the water. Their passion for permit fishing shines through with every push of the pole and limitless dedication to present opportunities for us gringos – no matter the challenges. The Camerons, the guides, and the staff at Palometa Club need a glass raised in their honor more often – and we cannot thank them all for doing what you do to make this tournament and the whole season a wonderful experience for all.
The 4th Annual Palometa Club Permit Tournament – April 1-8, 2016
Most of the 2015 crew has already signed up for the 4th Annual Tourney, but there will be a few spots open for new teams to sign up. As always, the tourney winners will be invited back to defend their title at the 5th Annual Tourney in 2017!
Meantime, enjoy some video and more images seen below!
QUICK HIT VIDEO BY MATT JONES PHOTOGRAPHY