Kat's Permit

 Kat's Permit

  By Hilary Parker 

Kat Vallilee with guide Brandon Cyr



Kat Vallilee of Florida caught a record-breaking permit – a whopping 21-pounder – on 6-pound test on March 22 using her 9550 Mako reel.

She’d been in pursuit of the record for only a couple of months when good fortune delivered her the perfect set of conditions.

“The fishing was amazing that day,” she recalls, really biting. It wasn’t long before she had a fish on her line.

“The first fish we hooked broke off. Then we caught a fish that was just under 10 pounds,” approximately equal to the weight of the then-current record.

The next couple of casts didn’t amount to much and it was time to wait. But “toward the end of the day we saw a school of fish that looked pretty big.”

They went in pursuit. Her guide Brandon Cyr positioned the boat, and she made a cast. After a few strips, she came tight to a fish. Then she hooked it. “We were pretty confident it had to be more than 10 pounds, maybe 15,” Kat said.

She never dreamed it would weigh in at 21 pounds – more than double the previous record of 9-3/4 pounds.

The permit didn’t fight too much at first, as it tried to remain with the other fish in its school. Eventually the fish wanted to leave the flats where it had been hooked and head into deeper waters, where “a lot of things could go wrong.”

But Kat persisted, reminded by Brandon the tippet was just 6 pounds and to “stay focused and smooth.” After just 32 minutes, the permit was hers.

After some photos and a brief celebration, the permit was released.

“I don’t think I would have done it if the fish couldn’t have been released,” she said.

Kat started fly fishing in 2013 while living in Key West with her soon-to-be husband Nathaniel Linville. (They married in 2014.) Nathaniel and Kat own The Angling Company, a fly shop in Key West. Since Nathaniel’s reel of choice is a Mako, that was her introduction when she learned to fly fish early on in their relationship. And once you’ve experienced the best, why go anywhere else?

Kat loves that the reels are reliable (“nothing goes wrong with them”) and easily hold up to fishing in saltwater (“I hardly ever rinse them off”).

But perhaps most importantly, fishing with a Mako is like fishing with a trusted partner.

“It gives you confidence when you’re fishing,” she said. “You can reliably predict how much pressure you’re putting on the fish.”

And speaking of a trusted partner, Kat wants to give props to Brandon, who encouraged her to go for the record, and served as her captain.

“It was nice to be able to share the day with Brandon and his fiancée,” she said.

The International Game Fish Association has tested the tippet and the catch is currently pending as the new world record.