Fish beware

First it was the completion of catching nine billfish species which earned him an International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) Billfish Royal Slam in 2004.

Next Zyg Gregorek tallied the eight species needed for an IGFA Tuna Royal Slam in May of 2007.

Finally the 65-year old world traveler from Halwill, Devon, in England, scored the hat-trick of blue-water fishing slams by flying to San Diego, Calif., and catching the final species of nine sharks he needed — a 200-pound thresher — for the IGFA's Shark Royal Slam.

Gregorek's 18-year global quest for the 26 specific fish took him to countries on six continents like Queensland, Australia; Tasmania, Pakistan, Mauritius, Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, Spain, Mexico, the Azores, the Galapagos Islands, Ascension Island, both coasts of the U.S., along with his own coastal waters of the United Kingdom.

It's estimated he traveled over 150,000 miles in his extraordinary adventure in the pursuit of the three slams.

Rob Kramer, president of the IGFA, based in Dania Beach, Fla., described Gregorek's acheivement as "totally unique." He added "to achieve one royal slam is impressive but to get all three is unheard of. To our knowledge, he is the first."

Kramer also stressed, "This is a very popular service the IGFA offers that recognizes individual angler achievement where the fish can all be released alive."

"It's not about luck. You have to research, to know exactly where to go and when."

For example Gregorek told members of the British media he had been chasing the thresher shark since 2004 in trips to California waters, finally catching one this past May to complete the slam. Besides the thresher, the IGFA's Shark Royal Slam consists of eight other shark species including hammerhead, blue, mako, tiger, white, tope, whaler, and porbeagle.

He started his pursuit of sharks in 1996 in British waters catching a blue off Cornwall and later a tope and porbeagle off Devon. Two of his sharks were over 1000 pounds: a 1300-pound great white in Struis Bay off S. Africa, and an 1100-pound tiger shark off Cairns, Australia.

The 69-year old IGFA has six royal slam "conservation" clubs. The slams consist of the angler catching all IGFA recognized species in certain categories.

The Billfish Royal Slam recognizes anglers catching, or catching and releasing, nine species within the angler's lifetime including Atlantic and Pacific sailfish, Atlantic and Pacific blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, white marlin, swordfish, and spearfish.

Gregorek said some of the fish, like species of tuna, were caught while he was on the hunt for marlin.

The IGFA's Tuna Royal Slam consists of an Atlantic or Pacific bigeye, blackfin, bluefin, dogtooth, longtail, skipjack, southern bluefin, and yellowfin.

While Gregorek's obsession is fishing, his profession is also the same. He and his wife Rose, own an estate on 170 acres called Anglers Paradise, with a series of villas, which also encompasses more than a dozen lakes for fly and light tackle sportsmen to catch and release a variety of freshwater species including trout, carp, Wels catfish and golden orfe.

"To complete all three slams is the culmination of many years' work and the end of a personal journey. I've certainly been around and I've had a fair few scrapes to get there," he told the U.K. media.

"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. It has also been very humbling. Some of the crews who have helped me have been very poor. In Mozambique the crew asked if they could keep my catches because they were big enough to feed their entire village."