Key West Angler Earns ‘King of the Reef’ Win in Rod and Spear Challenge

STOCK ISLAND, Florida Keys — Diver Austin Inwood of Key West, Florida, captured a 57.2-pound black grouper and the title of “King of the Reef” in the three-division King of the Reef Rod & Spear Tournament that ended May 18 in the Lower Florida Keys. 

Handily eclipsing his rivals, Inwood also took top honors in the challenge’s scuba division. 

The unique tournament awarded cash and prizes to participants who weighed in the heaviest black grouper in the scuba, freedive and rod and reel divisions. 

Aaron Young of Key West brought in a winning 23.4-pounder in the freedive division, while Key West angler Richard Divoll led the rod and reel division with a black grouper that weighed 20.8 pounds. 

All registrants also were eligible for prizes in categories including the heaviest pelagic species, heaviest mutton snapper and most lionfish collected. 

Inwood added to his victories by tallying the heaviest pelagic species, a cobia that weighed 31.1 pounds. 

Clay Glover of St. Petersburg, Florida, speared the tournament’s heaviest mutton snapper, a 14.7-pounder, while competing in the scuba division. 

Mike Healy of West Palm Beach, Florida, took the lionfish prize, spearing three of the invasive species for a combined weight of 4.1 pounds.  

Nathalie Meyers of Key West was the top female participant. Registered in the freedive division, she captured a 5-pound mutton snapper. 

Presented by Red Rum International, the tournament was paired with a “trash harvest” targeting polypropylene. King of the Reef competitors have removed 740 pounds of polypropylene trash during the past two years’ events. 

As well as benefiting the environment and challenging contenders, the tournament raises awareness about decompression sickness and injuries. Red Rum founder and King of the Reef organizer Daniel DelGuidice, who sustained a decompression injury in 2021, intends to start a foundation to support people who are affected. 

The 2024 tournament drew 54 registrants, said DelGuidice, setting an event participation record.  

Austin Inwood of Key West, Florida, captured a 57.2-pound black grouper and the title of “King of the Reef” in the three-division King of the Reef Rod and Spear Tournament and the top prize in the scuba division. Photo: Key West Waterman

Austin Inwood of Key West, Florida, captured a 57.2-pound black grouper and the title of “King of the Reef” in the three-division King of the Reef Rod and Spear Tournament and the top prize in the scuba division. Photo: Key West Waterman

This article was updated on June 3, 2024 at 9:14 AM
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