Zyg Gregorek has been hailed as the world’s greatest fisherman after becoming the first to claim big game fishing’s ultimate prize.
Zyg, 65, spent 18 years on his quest to catch all ten game species of billfish, nine of shark and eight of tuna.
In the world of big game fishing, bagging a specimen of each target species is known as a royal slam. Mr Gregorek is the first person to claim a full house of royal slams since records began in the 1950s.
Mr Gregorek’s quest took him a total of 150,000 miles, to South Africa, Australia, Mauritius, the Galápagos islands, the US, Madeira, Ascension Island and Mozambique.
He completed the full house when, off San Diego, he landed a 200lb thresher shark, a fish he has tried to catch since 2004.
He was awarded his Shark Royal Slam by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) for landing specimens of blue, hammerhead, mako, thresher, tiger, great white, tope, whaler and porbeagle.
He had previously also been awarded the Billfish Royal Slam to add to the Tuna Royal Slam he won last year.
Rob Kramer, president of the IGFA, based in Florida, hailed Mr Gregorek as “the world’s greatest fisherman” and described him as “totally unique”.
He said: “There are many awards out there for fishermen and anyone can throw in a line, get lucky and pull out a record-breaking fish but this is something else. To achieve one royal slam is impressive but to get all three is unheard of. He is the first and may be the last. These awards really are the considered the big one, the holy grail. They are spectacular — travelling to exotic places and chasing a specific species of fish.
“It is not about luck — you have to research, to know exactly where to go and when. Zyg is a character and by definition he is the world’s greatest fisherman.”
Mr Gregorek, of Halwill, Devon, said that the achievement was “the end of a personal journey”.
He said: “I’ve certainly been around and I’ve had a fair few scrapes to get there. I owe a hearty thanks to my family and all the other skippers and crew who helped me. It’s cost a bomb but was worth it in the end. As long as I have my strength, I’ll go for big fish.”
He caught his first shark, a 40lb blue, off Padstow in Cornwall in 1996, followed by a 100lb mako in the Black River, Mauritius.
His 1,300lb great white he caught in Struis Bay, South Africa, in 2000.
“Tope and blue shark are plentiful in British waters, and I have caught them many times. I did catch a massive tope once which would have been a record-breaker but the captain had had too much wine and dropped it as it was being brought in,” he said.
“I caught the great white using a whaler shark as bait but the bull sharks are the real fighters.”
He is only the second man on record to catch all nine species of shark and the only person in history to catch three different species of shark over 1,000lb.
Taken from Timesonline