Our Mission:

The Lower Keys Guides Association is a non-profit organization of professional fishing guides dedicated to working for a sustainable resource through wise management practices, while recognizing the importance of sport fishing to the economy and cultural heritage of the Florida Keys. LKGA Statement.pdf



23 permit caught – 24 boats

Grand Champions: Jose Ucan / Capt Justin Rea; 7 fish total – 537 points


First Runner-Up: Kat Vallilee / Capt Doug Kilpatrick; 4 fish – 366 points


Runner-Up: Wes Smith / Capt Ian Slater; 3 fish  – 281 points


Largest Fish: Mike Ward/ Capt Brandon Cyr – 30.5″ 122 points

Election Results Are In!

The LKGA Board Members have voted and are pleased to announce the results! 

LKGA 2022-2023 Board of Directors:
President:                      Andrew Tipler
Vice President:              Ian Slater
Secretary:                      Bob Beighley
Treasurer:                      Brian Stilley
Outreach Coordinator:  Nathaniel Linville
Board Member:             Brandon Cyr
Board Member:             Will Benson
Board Member:             Brian "Bear" Holeman
Board Member:             Chad Huff
Alt. Board Member:      Jared Cyr
Alt. Board Member:      Nick LaBadie
Alt. Board Member:      Lenny Leonard

LKGA Annual General Membership Meeting


Thank you to Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, FIU, and Florida Bay Forever for your informational presentations!

Thank you, Ray Torres, for your time behind the bar!

Thank you, Tom del Bosque and Costa del Mar for sponsoring this event!

Thank you to our guide and angler members who make up LKGA!

LKGA Fights in Tallahassee

LKGA Board Members join with Captains for Clean Water and head to Tallahassee to fight against the threat to Everglades Restoration funding when Senate Bill 2508 was quietly filed on Friday.

Coming Up!

The Annual General Membership Meeting
Saturday, February 26, 2022

  • Renew your membership (if you have not already)
  • Collect your LKGA swag
  • Hear the latest from LKGA, BTT, FAU, and Florida Bay Forever
  • Current Guide Members vote for the 2022-2023 Board of Directors
  • Enjoy a catered buffet dinner and drinks
  • Catch up with local colleagues
If you have a nomination for the 2022-2023 Board of Directors, please email info@LKGA.org

**NOTE - New Fixed Anniversary Membership Date**
Annual memberships will now begin on January 1st of each year.
Partial year dues will be pro-rated for the 2022 calendar year.
Guide Members will assess a late fee and voting rights revoked if not paid before February 28th.
If not paid before July 30th, Guide Members will have their membership revoked.

If you have any questions, please email info@LKGA.org

March Merkin 2022

March 7-10
Oceans Edge Resort & Marina
LKGA hosts the largest and most competitive catch and release Permit tournament in the world. We salute Bonefish & Tarpon trust to help support their vital Permit research and conservation matters with proceeds from the tournament. 

Make sure to spread the word about the March Merkin Online Auction loaded with gear, art, trips, and more! You can find the link at MarchMerkin.com!

LKGA unites with Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships

to stand against BIG cruise ships calling on Key West!




Celebrating a HUGE win!

Effective April 1, 2021, regulation changes will go into effect at Western Dry Rocks that prohibit fishing from April 1 – July 31. These changes are aimed at providing benefits for multiple recreationally and commercially important species that aggregate to spawn at Western Dry Rocks, including permit, mutton snapper, gray snapper, and yellowtail snapper. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission also adopted a seven-year sunset provision, which primarily will be used as a way to ensure the Commission can revisit this closure and discuss future management in this area.



Bonefish and Tarpon

Catch and Release Guidelines



March Merkin Invitational Permit Tournament

Congratulations to the 2021 Winners!

Grand Champions

Ivar Bolander / Capt. Steve Friedman

228 Points - 28.5" / 28.5"


1st Runner Up

Robert Dougherty / Capt. Nick LaBadie

164 points - 24" / 17"

2nd Runner Up

Sam Kaufman / Capt. Aaron Snell

116 Points - 29"

Largest Fish

Sam Kaufman / Capt. Aaron Snell

116 points - 29"

Thank you
2021 March Merkin Sponsors

March Merkin Invitational Permit Tournament
and Online Silent Auction

Remember to check out the silent auction for trips, art, gear, gift certificates and more!

Visit MarchMerkin.com for the link
text permit21 to 76278

"Get Trashed" with LKGA
Marine Debris Clean-Up

It was a soggy start to the day but as the sun came out so did the debris from our local water. Thank you to all who took time out of their day to bring some relief for our precious ecosystem here in the lower Florida Keys. Please stay tuned for the Waste Management weight calculations.


Sugarloaf Showdown

Youth Division

Grand Champion:
Angler - Charlie Bracher
Guide - Pat Bracher
Total Points: 900
Total Species - 2

1st Runner-Up:
Angler - Luke Benson
Guide - Will Benson
Total Points: 300
Total Species - 1

2nd Runner-Up:
Angler - Alice Benson
Guide - Will Benson
Total Points: 200
Total Species - 1

Spin Division

Grand Champion:
Total Species - 2
Total Points - 1000
Guide - Pat Pracher
Angler - Charlie Bracher

1st Runner-Up:
Angler - David Leider
Guide - Doug Kilpatrick
Total Points: 800
Total Species - 2

2nd Runner-Up:
Total Species - 2
Total Points - 700
Guide - Tim Carlile
Angler - Pat Bennett

Fly Division

Grand Champion:
Total Species - 2
Total Points - 1000
Guide - Nick Labadie
Anglers - Nathaniel Linville and Brandon Cyr

1st Runner-Up: 
Total Species -1
Total Points: 800
Guide - Lenny Leonard
Angler - Mike Widdes

2nd Runner-Up:
Total Species - 1
Total Points: 600
Guide - Nick Calabro
Angler - Rob Kauffman


Please join us!

Sunday, January 31st!


Rescheduled tournament dates are

January 28-30, 2021!

Key West votes YES

to all three cruise ship referenda!

"In a unprecedented citizen-led push against mass cruise tourism, Key West voters boldly chose to protect the environment and public health. It's sparked hope for change across similarly challenged port communities." - KWCSCS

Lower Keys Guides Association Endorses All 3 Cruise Ship Referenda

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding large cruise ships in Key West and the potential economic impact of the referenda on downtown businesses. But what has not been covered is the environmental damage caused by large cruise ships and the harmful effect this has on the larger economy of small businesses that rely on a healthy marine ecosystem. 

The Lower Keys Guides Association is a non-profit, democratically run organization composed of 84 charter-boat owner-operators.  Many of our senior guides and leaders in the fishing community have witnessed substantial change in our ecosystem over the decades. Larger factors have contributed to this decline, to be sure. But it is undeniable that the passage of hundreds of large cruise ships through our relatively shallow harbor and channel has caused profound negative impacts.

Key West Harbor is a unique marine habitat that connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico. The ship’s channel begins at the coral reef on the south and extends to the grass flats north of Key West. It is a vital migratory pathway for fish and marine invertebrates. Its health is inextricably linked to the overall health of the surrounding habitat. 

For decades, fishing guides have watched an ever-increasing number of ever-larger cruise ships coming into Key West Harbor, resulting in a massive disruption of sea-bottom sediment. Miles-long plumes of silt are routinely generated and deposited onto the coral reef as well as the seagrass flats. This has massively impacted what should be a thriving marine environment. Instead, fish populations are disrupted, and water clarity diminished.

The Murray Report, commissioned by the City of Key West and the US Navy, has described the seafloor bottom most impacted by cruise ships as a “blasted moonscape.” That report contains the same conclusion of many long-time fishing guides, that Key West’s historical tarpon fishery has been severely diminished. Our experience has shown us that the impact goes far beyond tarpon to include permit, grouper, snapper, and almost every other species. 

The consensus of the Lower Keys Guides Association is that the cruise-ship situation which has been tolerated here in recent decades is plainly unsustainable. If we are to have a beautiful, unique environment that attracts folks from all around the world and supports many Keys residents, both directly and indirectly, we must chart a course that bears in mind the fragility and importance of a healthy Key West harbor. 

That’s why the Lower Keys Guides Association has voted to endorse all three cruise ship referenda. We believe this compromise approach to limiting large cruise ships with their deep draft in favor of smaller, less impactful ships is the responsible environmental choice, and therefore the responsible economic approach as well.


Thank you,

Board of Directors, Lower Keys Guides Association

Andrew Tipler, President                                            John Benvenuto, Board Member

Ian Slater, Vice President                                           Brandon Cyr, Board Member

Bob Beighley, Secretary                                             Brian ‘Bear’ Holeman, Board Member

Brian Stilley, Treasurer                                               Doug Kilpatrick, Board Member

Nathaniel Linville, Outreach Coordinator              Will Benson, Alternate Board Member

 LKGA lends a hand to
Mote Marine
Coral Restoration

Scientists from Mote Marine report that corals are being restored to the reef and are ready to become parents! For years, Mote has made scientific efforts to restore coral reefs to self-sustaining life.


To read more on these endeavors, please click HERE.

Sugarloaf Showdown

November 5th - 7th, 2020
Sugarloaf Marina

Thursday, November 5
4:00 PM     Registration/Check In opens
4:00 PM     Rules and bag pick up
4:00 PM     Silent Auction opens!
Friday, November 6 
6:30 AM     Check-in mandatory
7:30 AM     Lines In
4:00 PM     Lines Out
5:30 PM     Check In/Scoring Closes
Saturday, November 7
6:30 AM     Check-in mandatory
7:30 AM     Lines In
4:00 PM     Lines Out
5:30 PM     Check In/Scoring Closes
6:00 PM     Outdoor Awards Dinner
7:00 PM     Silent Auction Closes

 We will use the GiveSmart app for the silent auction.
Proceeds go to the Guides Trust Foundation.

Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships

LKGA members vote
Yard signs and campaign material available at
KWCSCS Headquarters

The Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships recently launched a petition to put referenda on the ballot to reduce the number of cruise ships to Key West, reduce number of people disembarking, and give preference to cruise lines with the best environmental records. The petition needed 1,500 signatures yet collected over 2,500.

With only 8% of all tourist spending, cruise ships make up 50% of tourist volume. Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships contends the health risk presented by cruise ships outweighs any economic benefit especially during the Covid-19 pandemic link with cruise ships. They also argue cruise ships deter multi-day tourists who make up 92% of all tourist spending.

The Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships states more than 390 cruise ships carrying 1.2 million people visited Key West last year. Key West currently has no regulations in place governing cruise ships.

To review the case study for limiting cruise ships please click HERE.
To review the case study for smaller cruise ships please click HERE
For more information please visit Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships online HERE.

Election Results Are In!

The LKGA Board Members have voted and are please to announce the results! 

LKGA 2020-2021 Board of Directors:
President:                      Andrew Tipler
Vice President:              Ian Slater
Secretary:                      Bob Beighley
Treasurer:                      Brian Stilley
Outreach Coordinator:  Nathaniel Linville
Board Member:             John Benvenuto
Board Member:             Brian "Bear" Holeman
Board Member:             Doug Kilpatrick
Alt. Board Member:       Will Benson



2020 March Merkin
Champions and Runners Up

Grand Champion
Angler Clint Packo and Guide Simon Becker
3 fish total - 306 points


First Runner Up and Largest Fish
Angler Thane Morgan and Guide Dustin Huff
1 fish total - 33.25" to the fork - 133 points


Second Runner Up
Angler Tim Brune and Guide Scott Irvine
1 fish total - 31.5" to the fork - 126 points

 2020 March Merkin
Silent Auction

Text "permit2020" to 76278
Visit the Silent Auction Website HERE

Auction opens Monday, March 9th at 6:00 PM.
Auction closes Thursday, March 12th at 6:00 PM.

There are many items including trips, gear, rods, reels, art, local restaurants, and so much more!

As usual, proceeds from the March Merkin silent auction will benefit the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust.  B&TT endeavors to conserve and restore bonefish, tarpon, and permit fisheries and habitats through research, stewardship, education and advocacy.

LKGA Advocates for Freshwater to
Florida Bay and the Everglades


In late February, Capt. Doug Kilpatrick, Capt. Andrew Tipler, and Capt. Bob Beighley took the opportunity to represent the LKGA at the Army Corps of Engineers meeting in Islamorada. This public meeting was concerning the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Combined Operational Plan (COP).

Capt. Doug Kilpatrick urged the Army Corps of Engineers to increase clean freshwater flow to Florida Bay and the Everglades National Park in the dry season and appealed to prevent hyper salinity in these areas.

2020 March Merkin

MARCH 9th - 12th, 2020
Key West Yacht Club

Monday, March 9
6:00 PM Captains, Anglers, and Guests Reception
6:00 PM Silent Auction opens! Visit HERE or text "permit2020" to 76278 on your smart device to register and BID!

Tuesday, March 10 - Thursday, March 12
7:30 AM Check-in/Fish

Thursday, March 12
5:00 PM Scoring closes
6:00 PM Awards Dinner - Silent Auction closes

We will again use the GiveSmart app for the silent auction. Please visit the auction website HERE.
As always, proceeds go to the Bonefish Tarpon Trust and Lower Keys Guides Association.

LKGA Unites with B&TT


Recently, along side of Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, LKGA's Capt. Will Benson, Capt. Dale Bishop, and Capt. Diego Rouylle addressed Commissioners in Tallahassee. This meeting was to establish a no fishing closure at Western Dry Rocks during permit spawning season. The loss of spawning fish due to predation is simply not sustainable for the fishery.

Through Costa's Project Permit, isotope testing and acoustic tagging were methods used to research Western Dry Rocks permit aggregation. For further information, visit this link HERE.

PLEASE JOIN the LKGA and BTT's efforts by submitting your comments through this link HERE.

Annual Membership Meeting

This past Friday, the Lower Keys Guides Association held its Annual Meeting at the Sugarloaf Firehouse followed by BBQ at the Sugarloaf Lodge Tiki Bar point. We would like to thank everyone in attendance. We had a great turn out of guide and angler members.

Special thanks to our informative speakers:
Andy Bowen and Rollin Schuster of Cross Current Insurance Company
Dr. Jennifer Rehage, FIU, with Carissa Gervasi, PhD candidate, FIU

Special thanks to those that help make this possible:
Robert Horachek, meeting venue host
Capt. Andrew Tipler, chef extraordinaire
Tom del Bosque, generous sponsor for LKGA Annual Meeting

We hope you enjoyed getting together. See you all next year!



Meeting Location:
The Sugarloaf Firehouse 17097 Overseas Hwy, Sugarloaf Shores, FL 33042.
BBQ and drinks to follow at the Sugarloaf Lodge Tiki Bar point.

Guest Speakers:
Dr. Jennifer Rehage, FIU and Carissa Gervasi, PhD candidate in fisheries management at FIU
Andy Bowman and Rollin Schuster of Cross Currant Insurance Company

Guide members will cast their votes to select several new LKGA Board of Directors.

Membership Renewal:
This meeting is also the perfect time to renew your membership. Remember, you don't have to wait until the meeting. If you have not already renewed for 2020, you can renew your membership from the LKGA website.

Shirts & Hats:
Members that have already renewed for 2020 and those that renew their membership that night will receive an official LKGA shirt, hat, and decal.

Food & Brew:
Enjoy BBQ and drinks at the Sugarloaf Lodge Tiki Bar point after the meeting.

If you are interested in adding your name to the ballot for a Board of Director seat, please email us at INFO@LKGA.ORG

In conjunction with our Sugarloaf Showdown this year, the LKGA partnered with Ocean conservancy and Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing for an ocean clean-up. Together, over 4,000 lbs of marine debris was collected. Check out this video by Ocean Conservancy. Check out the documentary below!

Get Trashed with LKGA

Saturday, January 18th
Clean-up starts at 10AM   -  Party starts at 4PM

The second LKGA Lower Keys Clean-up event will happen in a couple of weeks! We're getting together to clean marine debris and party when we're done. Some participants will be on their boats and others will be walking along the shoreline.We're starting at 10:00 AM and the drop off location is the Sugarloaf Marina - 17015 Overseas Hwy, Sugarloaf Shores, FL 33042.

We'll be done by 4:00PM. That's when we're hosting a party with BBQ, beer, music by Jason Lamson, and we're raffling off amazing items. Bring a bag of marine debris for admission to the party.

We'd like to thank the amazing sponsors who've already signed-on to contribute: Waste Management, Ocean Conservancy, Orvis, Costa Del Mar, SweetWater Brewing Company, The Angling Company - and we're getting more sponsors each day!

See you on Saturday the 18th for the second annual "Get Trashed with LKGA."

Congratulations to all of the participants & winners of the
2019 LKGA Sugarloaf Showdown

Members, please join us for the
Sanctuary Advisory Council Meeting

Tomorrow, Oct. 15th
Marriott Beachside Hotel
3841 N Roosevelt Blvd
Key West, FL 33040

The meeting is from 1PM - 9PM (Here's the ful agenda).
3:00 Break – Afternoon Public Comment Sign-Up
3:30 Afternoon Public Comment
5:00 Break – Evening Public Comment Sign-Up 2
6:00 Evening Public Comment


Dear valued members of The Lower Keys Guides Association,

WE NEED YOUR VOICE! As you may know, the Florida Keys are currently in the review process by the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.  This process has been in the works for the last seven years and the sanctuary has released their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS Restoration Blueprint). We are now officially in the comment period in which the sanctuary will be fielding comments to develop the final draft of the DEIS. Your comments will help decide the new laws of the sanctuary.  The Lower Keys Guides Association has been actively involved in the process and thoughtfully developed a set of LKGA’s own zoning recommendations as well as a short list of suggestions for the sanctuary to consider. When deciding on our recommendations, we considered the increase of boater use in the last seven years and the future of the Lower Florida Keys. To limit further habitat destruction, you will see that we are providing marked running lane routes for safe and easy access to places such as Snipe Point and Marvin Key. We are also asking for idle pole and troll zones where we believe the risk of habitat loss is significant due to groundings.

Please look over the Sanctuary’s Restoration Blueprint for the Lower Keys.



In the comment section, you can review LKGA’S recommendations, suggestions and our response to the alternatives that the FKNMS has published.



Our response to the DEIS Restoration Blueprint reflect our thoughts and ideas while working with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to create long term sustainability for habitat and our fishery. We encourage you to read over the Lower Keys Region and Marine Zones that have been published by the Sanctuary and make an official comment to support LKGA’S recommendations. To make an effective comment, we suggest that you to read Tips for Submitting Effective Comments. 



Thank you for your participation,

Doug Kilpatrick
President LKGA

2019 Sugarloaf Showdown!

Join us Friday, November 1st
& Saturday, November 2nd
Captain's Meeting the evening before on Thursday, October 31st.
Join LKGA for this fundraising C&R tournament.
This three-day event is open to all anglers and is a fundraiser
for the Guides Trust Foundation, which provides financial aid to Florida Keys fishing guides in the event of illness or injury.

Happy 15th Anniversary, LKGA!


The Lower Keys Guides Association became a non-profit organization of professional fishing guides on May 17, 2004. So, we are pleased to announce LKGA will turn 15 this month!

The first Board of Directors back in 2004 were Rick Bouley, Doug Kilpatrick, Reuben Dunagan, Mike Vaughn, Simon Becker, Steve Impallomeni, Tony Murphy, Brian Yates & Tom Rowland.

During its decade and a half in existence, The Lower Keys Guides Association has remained committed to its mission: dedicated to working for a sustainable resource through wise management practices, while recognizing the importance of sport fishing to the economy and cultural heritage of the Florida Keys. 

Throughout the rest of this year, we will highlight some of the many actions LKGA has taken to protect our precious resources here in the Keys - preservation through stewardship.
A Chance to Be Heard About Okeechobee
US Army Corp of Engineers Scoping Meeting
Wednesday, March 20, 2019, 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Marathon Government Center
2798 Overseas Highway, BOCC Room (second floor), Marathon, FL 33050
This meeting is being held to consider how the USACE operates Lake Okeechobee.  This specific type of meeting has never happened before in the Keys.  The last meetings they had were in 2005 in Stuart, Ft. Myers, Clewiston, and Okeechobee.
This meeting is our chance to ask the USACE to maximize flows to Florida Bay in the wet season.  We do not have to wait for more infrastructure to be paid for and built to make the Bay more resilient.  All we have to do is increase the amount of water we send it during the dry season.
Both  LKFGA & FKFGA are making an effort to have as many bodies in the room as possible.

Please show up so we can stand together on the 20th in Marathon.




Congratulations to a great group of guys!
2019 March Merkin winning teams

Grand Champion
Angler Nathaniel Linville and Guide John O'Hearn

First Runner Up
Angler Scott Harkins and Guide Kris Suplee

Second Runner Up
Angler Clint Packo and Guide Simon Becker

2019 March Merkin

March 4 - 7, 2019

The March Merkin is an exciting flats and fly only permit fishing tournament hosted by the Lower Keys Guides Association.

The tournament will be held once again at Key West Yacht Harbour Club. We will also hold a silent auction with wonderful items from rods and reels to trips and gear & more. Proceeds from the silent auction benefit the Bonefish Tarpon Trust.





Join us Friday, February 22nd for the LKGA Annual Meeting; where you can renew your membership and guide members can participate in the LKGA board of director elections.

Afterwards, join us at the Sugarloaf Restaurant for dinner - compliments of LKGA.

If you'd like to throw your hat into the ring for one of the board of director seats, please email us at INFO@LKGA.ORG.

Captain Doug Kilpatrick & Captain Will Benson spoke with the Miami about the problem of illegal fishing guides filling the Keys.

Photo courtesy of Will Benson.

Read the full story here.

LKGA has a spot at the January 23rd commission meeting in Marathon at 10:00am.

See you there:
Marathon Government Center
2798 Overseas Hwy.
2nd Floor
Marathon, FL 33050
Get there early if you want a seat.

First Round of Photos from the AMAZING PARTICIPATION in the 1st Annual LKGA Clean Up - Or as we're now calling it, "Get Trashed with LKGA"

Click this link to read the November 29th Key West Citizen Article about LKGA's efforts to curb out-of-county guides.



We'll start at 8am.

Waste Management is providing the dumpster.

We'll have tarps during.

They'll be burgers, brats & beers after.   Thanks in advance.
See you there. 

Thank you to all the participants and congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Sugarloaf Showdown!
We've updated the SugarloafShowdown.com web page with results and photos!


The 2018 Showdown is going strong!

It's a great time for a great cause.




Text sugarloafshowdown to 24700.

  • You will immediately receive a reply text asking for you name.
  • Then you will receive a reply text with a link. Touch the link and you will be taken to the auction website.



Visit this website to register and view items: sugarloafshowdown2018.auction-bid.org.


2018 Sugarloaf Showdown!

Join us Friday, November 2nd
& Saturday, November 3rd.
Captain's Meeting the evening before on Thursday, November 1st.
Join LKGA for this fundraising C&R tournament.
This three-day event is open to all anglers and is a fundraiser
for the Guides Trust Foundation, which provides financial aid to Florida Keys fishing guides in the event of illness or injury.
Just click the link above or visit sugarloafshowdown.com
for tournament details and registration.

We'll continue to send updates & info as we get closer.See you there.

LKGA Toured the Mote Marine Laboratory

On Wednesday, May 9th, LKGA Board Members toured the Mote Marine Laboratory in Summerland Key.  They received a guided tour of the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration.

Taking the tour allowed them to see Mote's seawater systems, tanks for aquatic studies, and some of the sample processing equipment. Those who attended called it informative and entertaining.  LKGA is grateful to Mote for extending the invitation and hopes to do similar things in the future.

We thank everyone who participated in
the 2018 March Merkin.


We congratulate the winners.


We couldn't have done it without our sponsors.

Adrian Gray
Andy Mill
Aqua Flies
ARC Fishing
Bill Hartman
Bill Horn
Black River Outfitters
Bonefish Tarpon Trust
Bote Paddleboards
Buff USA
C.A. Richardson
Chris Bladen
Costa del Mar
Courtney Marie Martin
DeYoung Studios
Don Yoyi
Dylan Drebitko
Echo Fly Rods
Fitz Coker
H2O Bonefishing Bahamas
Half Shell Raw Bar
Hardy Fly Fishing
Hatch Outdoors
Howard Films
Ian Davis - Yellow Dog
Jim Klug - Yellow Dog
Jim Knowles
Jorge Martinez
Kapusta Reels
Nautilus Reels
Paul Puckett
Peter Smith Flies
Prime Key West
Rep Your Water
Scott Fly Rods
Sight Lines
Square Grouper Bar & Grill
Sun Bum
Tailing Permit
Temple Fork Outfitters
The Angling Company
The Saltwater Angler
Thomas & Thomas Fly Rods
Tibor Reels
Tide House
Tim Rajeff -Rajeff Sports
Tyger Forge
Van Staal
West Marine
Will Benson
Yellowdog Fly Fishing
Yeti Coolers

Join the fun of the 2018 March Merkin
Silent Auction!!

Auction starts opens today at 5:00 PM.

Text 'marchmerkin18' to 24700

LKGA will host the March Merkin from Mar. 12th - 15th

Key West, FL
Key West Yacht Harbor Marina
March 12-15, 2018
2018 March Merkin

In a little under two weeks, the 2018 March Merkin will be held at Key West Yacht Harbor Club. March 12th we will have our kick-off dinner for anglers and guides. March 13-15 are the fishing days.


We'll soon send emails with the silent auction link.  Just like last year, you can go online or go to the app from anywhere in the world to view, bid, and donate.  We'll put auction items on display soon.  As always, we have a lot of great items, gear, trips, and more & proceeds will go to the Bonefish Tarpon Trust.

During the annual meeting, we held elections for the LKGA Board Members.  We are happy to announce the following LKGA Officers and Board Members for 2018.

Doug Kilpatrick (President)
Luke Kelly (Vice President)
John Benvenuto (Secretary)
Dale Bishop (Treasurer)
Nathaniel Linville (Outreach Coordinator)

Board Members:
Bob Beighly
Pat Bracher
Drew Delashmit
Bob Paulson
Ian Slater (alternate)
Joe Rodriguez (alternate)

The new Merkin Trophy Base looks amazing!


This beautiful work was made by Jay Grant using local mahogany.

Photo provided by Nathaniel Linville.

News from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

FWC extends the permit spawning season closure inside the Special Permit Zone 

At its February meeting in Tallahassee, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved a measure to extend the spawning season closure for permit inside the Special Permit Zone in south Florida.

The change, effective April 1, 2018, will add April to the existing May-through-July season closure for the harvest of permit inside the Special Permit Zone, which includes all state and federal waters south of Cape Sable on the Gulf coast, and south of Cape Florida on the Atlantic coast including all of the Florida Keys and Biscayne Bay.

Recent research confirms spawning-size permit are visiting known south Florida multi-species aggregation sites from April through July.

For more information or to view the presentations given at the Commission meeting, visitMyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings” then click on the link below “Next Meeting.”

For information on permit, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Permit, Florida pompano, African pompano.”

Don’t miss our Annual Meeting February 23, 2018
Board Elections and Dinner!
It'll be a great time!

Mark your calendars for Friday, February 23rd to attend the LKGA annual meeting, where you can renew your membership and participate in the LKGA board of director elections. Afterwards, join us at the Sugarloaf Lodge Tiki bar for dinner - compliments of LKGA.
The meeting begins at 6:30 and with elections, a guest speaker, and a casual dinner at the Sugarloaf Restaurant. 

We're getting a great speaker lined up for the annual meeting. We're booking someone who can be informative, entertaining and we'll keep their presentation short and sweet.

So save the date. We’ll be sending you an official email invitation asking for your RSVP soon.

Good news from FWC

FWC discusses draft rule to extend the permit spawning season closure inside the Special Permit Zone

At its December meeting in Gainesville, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) discussed a draft change to extend the spawning season closure for permit inside the Special Permit Zone. This draft proposal was approved and will be brought back before the Commission at the February 2018 meeting.


The proposed change, if approved in February, will add April to the existing May-through-July season closure for the harvest of permit inside the SPZ, which includes all state and federal waters south of Cape Sable on the Gulf coast and south of Cape Florida on the Atlantic coast.


Recent research confirms spawning-size permit are visiting known aggregation sites from April through July.

On this day in 1947, Everglades National Park was established, protecting one of the largest wetlands in the world. Seventy years later, it remains an international treasure attracting visitors from all over who come to see the park’s mangroves, River of Grass, and unique array of plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet. As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of this south Florida park, test your knowledge with 10 interesting facts about the Everglades: https://on.doi.gov/2j0PyMd

Information provided by US Dept. of the Interior

Photo by James Pion


BTT will be raffling off these excellent coolers at the Science Symposium with proceeds going to LKGA!

Microsoft Word - RAFFLE TO SUPPORT 2.docx

Symposium Overview

Don't miss the greatest gathering of flats fishing we can fit under one roof!

Sixth International Bonefish & Tarpon Symposium
November 10-11, 2017

The Bonefish & Tarpon Trust 6th International Science Symposium takes place November 10—11, 2017, at the Bonaventure Resort and Spa, in Weston, Florida. Register today and make plans to join other anglers, guides, conservationists, fishing industry leaders, and scientists for what promises to be the most comprehensive flats fishing event in the world.

The global leader in bonefish, tarpon and permit conservation, BTT has once again assembled the top scientists in the world of flats ecology to share their research findings on why fish do what they do—and how that knowledge benefits the species, their habitats and the larger fisheries they support. Featured scientific presentations will spotlight BTT’s ongoing science and conservation programs in the Florida Keys, Bahamas, and elsewhere across the Caribbean Basin, including recently completed studies on bonefish and tarpon genetics, the role of ocean currents in juvenile bonefish recruitment, a landmark effort to spawn and raise bonefish in captivity, and the role of water quality in ensuring healthy habitats.


The 2017 LKGA Sugarloaf Showdown Tournament has come to an end.
We'd like to thank our sponsors, vendors & guests and congratulate our winners! Continue to check this website, our Facebook page, Instagram & Twitter for tournament details.

Good news!
The silent auction is still open until Wednesday, Nov. 8th at 7PM.

Auction items range from quality fishing gear and equipment to apparel and artwork.
Feel free to browse, bid, and tell others about the auction.


Good news! You can view & bid on the silent auction from anywhere!

Text “sugarloafshowdown” to 24700 to register for bidding.

Or, visit https://sugarloafshowdown17.auction-bid.org.

4th Annual lkga sugarloaf showdown - nov 2-4, 2017

Donate to LKGA and help protect the waters of the Florida Keys.


Lower Keys Guides Association Invites you to accept the challenge! Let's help the Guides Trust in their efforts to recover from Irma.


LKGA Sugarloaf Showdown Inshore Fishing Tournament
November 2-4, 2017

Join LKGA for this fundraising C&R tournament.

This three-day event is open to all anglers and is a fundraiser for the Guides Trust Foundation, which provides financial aid to Florida Keys fishing guides in the event of illness or injury.

The Showdown kicks off on Thursday Nov. 2nd and includes a silent auction and captains’ meeting with refreshments.

Fishing begins on Friday morning and wraps up on Saturday evening with an awards dinner at the Sugarloaf Lodge Tiki Bar patio!

The Sugarloaf Showdown offers guides and anglers a chance to compete, collaborate as a team, win prizes and raise awareness of the need to protect our gamefish while raising funds for a worthy cause.

Registration is easy! Visit sugarloafshowdown.com for tournament details and registration.

See you there.


Lower Keys Guide Association Events & News


Join the Now or Neverglades Declaration today.

July 7, 2016

A coalition of extremely concerned and knowledgeable individuals and organizations who intend to fix the horrific results of mismanagement of Florida’s waters created the “Now or Neverglades Declaration” to petition our lawmakers and enforcement agencies to implement sound solutions to fix the problem once and for all.

The Lower Keys Guides Association is one of many organizations who have already joined this declaration; and there is also the opportunity to join as an individual.

Please show your support of the 200-plus Everglades scientists who believe that increased storage, treatment and conveyance of water south of Lake Okeechobee is essential to stop the damaging discharges to the coastal estuaries; to restore the flow of clean, fresh water to Everglades National Park, Florida Bay and the Florida Keys; to improve the health of Lake Okeechobee; and to protect the drinking water for 8 million Floridians living in Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

The link to the declaration site is http://gladesdeclaration.org/

Thank you in advance for going to the site, reading the information and joining those who care and understand.

We urge you to share this website link through your social media outlets to hopefully spread the word as far as possible.


2016 LKGA Sugarloaf Showdown

July 7, 2016

Join LKGA for the third annual fundraising C&R tournament to raise awareness for our Save the Barracuda campaign.

This three-day event at the Sugarloaf Marina & Lodge is open to all anglers and is a fundraiser for the Guides Trust Foundation, which provides funds to guides recovering from an illness or injury.

Visit sugarloafshowdown.com for more details.


Sugarloaf Showdown

November 1, 2015

Join LKGA for this fundraising C&R tournament to raise awareness for our Save the Barracuda campaign. This three-day event is open to all anglers and is a fundraiser for the Guides Trust Foundation, which provides funds to guides recovering from an illness or injury. Visit sugarloafshowdown.com for more details.


Florida Forage Fish

June 25, 2015

Small fish fuel Florida’s fisheries. Simply put, without small fish we have no big fish… This is a very important effort to get behind. See how the International Gamefish Association (IGFA) is working to keep Florida the sport fishing destination of the world.

Visit/pledge at: http://floridaforagefish.igfa.org


Dig Deep Cudjoe

July 1, 2014

Are you aware what FKAA plans to do with their proposed wastewater management? A number of residents and fishermen have learned that the FKAA plan for wastewater effluent at Cudjoe Regional could seriously harm our nearshore waters.

Please see the Dig Deep Cudjoe.pdf attachment for info about this problem. Go to www.digdeepcudjoe.com for more information and learn how you can help.


Save the Barracuda

December 30, 2013

Being sold commercially as an unregulated species. This great gamefish of the flats is in danger! All fisherman alike can do more to save this underrated predator, and important link in the food chain.


Way to go Key West!!

October 1, 2013

Way to go Key West!!! In an overwhelming 3 to 1 vote held Oct 1st 2013, any and all support for a potential “channel widening study” was rightfully put to rest. Citizens of Key West made their voices clear, saving a piece of small town charm from the ever growing cruise ship industry.


FKNMS Zoning Process

December 11, 2012

At the Federal level, the Florida Keys are managed by two different agencies. Large portions of the Lower Keys were designated as Wildlife Refuges and controlled by the US Fish and Wildlife. The entire Florida Keys are included in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary under the control of NOAA.

Both of these agencies are currently conducting a multi year Congressionally mandated regulatory review. When these reviews are completed, the management landscape of the Keys waters will look much different than today. We are taking an active role in this process.


PWC – LKGA Agreement

November 1, 2012

In an effort to resolve seasonal user conflict, the PWC Co-Op and LKGA held a series of meetings to discuss ways in which to better the working relationship between parties, further mutual understanding, promote a healthier fishery and increase safety of PWC tours. The objective was to create a good faith agreement whereby both parties would jointly outline specific routes for PWC tours and guidelines for conduct.

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