‘King of the Reef’ Rod and Spear Tournament

Angler competition in the Florida Keys

April 2024 News, Feature Keys Media Web Exclusive

Anglers in rod and reel, scuba and freediving divisions can vie for cash and prizes during the 2024 King of the Reef Rod & Spear tournament slated for Friday and Saturday, May 17-18, in the Lower Keys.

The angler that weighs in the tournament’s heaviest black grouper is to earn the overall grand prize of $1,500 and the title of “King of the Reef.”

Also to receive cash and prizes are each division’s top two participants that weigh in the heaviest grouper.

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

Presented by Red Rum International, the tournament is paired with a “trash harvest” targeting polypropylene. Participants can weigh in polypropylene items, ranging from ropes to packaging and containers, gathered from the Keys’ coastal wetlands and waters. Prizes await the person who collects the largest amount of polypropylene.

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

Tournament events are to kick off Friday, May 17, with a 4-8 p.m. final registration and captains meeting at the Red Rum tent outside The Docks Restaurant & Raw Bar, 6840 Front St. on Stock Island. Anglers and divers can pick up their participant bags at that time.

Fishing is scheduled Saturday, May 18, from 12:01 a.m. through the designated 4-6:30 p.m. weigh-in. The weigh-in is to take place at Keys Fresh Seafood Market’s “tin roof” structure, also at 6840 Front St. Each angler can weigh only one fish per division or category. All weighed grouper must be whole, fully gutted and properly iced.

The awards ceremony is to begin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the seafood market location, with a gathering at The Docks to follow.

The entry fee in each division is $105 per angler or divers until April 26 and $125 from that date through May 17.

Event information and registration: redrumintl.com/red-rum-tournaments/
Lower Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com/lowerkeys or 1-800-872-3722
Florida Keys fishing information: fla-keys.com/fishing/
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