Making Waves in Key West: Austin Inwood Crowned ‘King of the Reef’ in Thrilling Rod and Spear Showdown

In a splashy display of angling prowess, Key West’s own Austin Inwood reeled in a massive 57.2-pound black grouper, earning the coveted title of “King of the Reef” at the King of the Reef Rod & Spear Tournament, which wrapped up on May 18 in the Lower Florida Keys. Inwood's catch not only secured him the top spot but also crushed the competition, making waves in the scuba division as well.

This unique event, known for blending rod and spear fishing, doles out cash and prizes to those who land the heftiest black grouper across three divisions: scuba, freedive, and rod and reel. Aaron Young, also from Key West, snagged victory in the freedive division with a 23.4-pounder, while Richard Divoll led the rod and reel category with a 20.8-pound black grouper.

But Inwood wasn’t done yet. He hauled in the tournament’s heaviest pelagic species too—a 31.1-pound cobia, adding another feather to his cap. Other standout catches included a 14.7-pound mutton snapper speared by Clay Glover from St. Petersburg, Florida, in the scuba division, and three lionfish totaling 4.1 pounds by Mike Healy of West Palm Beach, Florida. Nathalie Meyers of Key West emerged as the top female participant, securing a 5-pound mutton snapper in the freedive division.

Sponsored by Red Rum International, the tournament also featured a “trash harvest” focusing on removing polypropylene waste. Over the past two years, competitors have cleared 740 pounds of this trash from the ocean. The event not only boosts environmental efforts but also raises awareness about decompression sickness and injuries—a cause close to the heart of Red Rum founder and tournament organizer Daniel DelGuidice, who suffered a decompression injury in 2021. DelGuidice aims to launch a foundation to support those affected.

With 54 registrants, this year’s event set a new participation record, making it the most successful edition yet. Keep your eyes peeled for next year’s action-packed competition!