Two tournaments set for June
The King of the Keys Spearfishing Tournament is looking to step up and take the place of local tournaments that have fallen on the way side over the years, especially the defunct Key West Open. At one point, it was possibly the biggest spearfishing tournament in the United States.
UPDATE: POSTPONED UNTIL JULY 11 and 12 DUE TO WEATHER.
“When I first moved here 11 years ago, there was three big tournaments in the Keys, now there is a lack of them,” said King of the Keys founder Jason Tiller.
The aggregate tournament will be based around numerous categories that will create a smorgasbord of fish for the taking. Aggregate rules include 15 points per fish, with one point per pound, and no cap on weight. One fish is allowed in each category with 28 different species that can be weighed, which include fish from reefs and wrecks (hogfish, groupers and snappers), and openwater pelagics (wahoo, dolphin and tuna).
There will be freediving and tank diving categories and an overall winner. Rules include all participants must leave and land in the Florida Keys and all contestants are required at a captain’s meeting on Friday, June 12 at Hurricane Hole Marina. Weigh in begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 14 and all fish must be in by 7 p.m.
“Having all of these categories will help the little guy, since the biggest grouper isn’t going to take the whole tournament,” Tiller said. “It seems like a lot of fish, but none will be wasted, and anything anyone doesn’t want to keep will be donated to the homeless shelter.”
Registration is $80 and includes a T-shirt. Women and junior divisions were just added due to interest. Tiller expects about 75 participants if the weather cooperates. Prizes include custom spearguns and other spearfishing swag donated by local shops, and awards created by Marathon metal artist Caleb Goins. For more information, visit kingofthekeys.com.
“We are really hoping for a successful tournament,” he said, “then, maybe, we will be able to put on a couple more a year.”
Two weeks later, the fourth annual That’s What She Shot Tournament benefiting the nonprofit Womankind will be taking place at Hurricane Hole Marina with a mandatory captain’s meeting on Friday, June 26 at 7 p.m. and weigh-in on Sunday, June 28 by 5:30 p.m. Directly following the weigh-in is a free and open to the public party that includes live music, raffles, and silent auctions to help local women and men in the community with healthcare. Last year, 115 spearos took part and more are expected this year.
Over the years, $10,000 has been donated to Womankind from this event. “Just this past year, contributions covered 19 women to be able to have preventive and advanced cancer testing due to the tournament,” said That’s What She Shot founder Lea Moeller. “Womankind’s traditional funding was cut for this program in 2014, and we were happy to be able to step in with the money.”
Moeller sits on the board of directors for Womankind.
That’s What She Shot is incorporating a few changes this year, including dividing categories into tank and freediving for both women and men. First place will be awarded to the heaviest grouper, snapper, and hogfish. There is an overall junior division and there will also be a lionfish award for the most invasive species captured and brought to the dock.
Also new this year is an IGFA Certified Scale, which was donated by FishBusters to the tournament. The scale is available to rent for a donation to Womankind.
For more information, visit thatswhatsheshot.com. There is a $65 entry fee until June 26, and a $10 increase for those who register at the Captain’s Meeting. The fee includes a swag bag, shirt, and free Papa’s Pilar drink.
‘Speara’ Jenna Moeller and sister That’s What She Shot Tournament Founder Lea Moeller pose last year after the weigh-in at Hurricane Hole. The tournament raised $6,000 in 2014.
“Two things that come to mind when I think of home: the water and the amazing community. If I can bring the two together to accomplish something positive for both, I think we all win.” -Lea Moeller, founder, That’s What She Shot Tournament
Impaler: Speargun Extraordinaire
Jason Tiller, the founder of the King of the Keys tournament, is also the creator of one of the hottest spearguns on the market right now, The Impaler. With more than 20 years of woodworking experience, his guns also include popular, almost indestructible, carbon fiber materials.
“We use really good components and are constantly evolving,” Tiller said. “We spend a lot of time collecting the right stuff – grips, handles – and the guns reflect it.”
The Impaler comes in numerous sizes crafted right in Key West, covering 200-pound yellowfin tuna and the fastest fish in the sea, to smaller fish, like hogs. More information on his guns can be found at impalerspearguns.com.