A BRITISH angler has been hailed the world’s greatest fisherman after spending 18 years travelling 150,000 miles to achieve sport angling’s Holy Grail for the first time in history.
Zyg Gregorek, 65, is the first recreational fisherman anywhere to catch all 27 species in the three so-called "royal slams" set by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) – hooking nine species of shark, including the great white, ten of billfish and eight of tuna.
His journey has taken him to some of the most remote corners of the world: from South Africa to Australia, Mauritius and the Galapagos Islands, and from America, Madeira and Ascension Island to Mozambique.
Mr Gregorek, who caught his first shark, a 40lb blue, off the coast at Padstow in Cornwall, completed his royal slams when he landed a 200lb thresher shark off San Diego – a species he had been trying to catch since 2004.
Rob Kramer, president of Florida-based IGFA, described Mr Gregorek’s achievement as "totally unique". He said: "To achieve one royal slam is impressive but to get all three is unheard of. He is the first and maybe the last. These awards are considered the big one – the Holy Grail. They are spectacular – travelling to exotic places and chasing a specific species of fish."
Mr Kramer stressed: "It is not about luck – you have to research, to know exactly where to go and when. Zyg is, by definition, the world’s greatest fisherman."
I must admit I’m baffled how billfish have their own "royal slam" yet the IGFA is engaged in an "aggressive campaign to ban the sale and importation of billfish in the United States." Many species of shark and tuna, too, are at critical levels and unlikely to survive the next generation, so I don’t know how that factors in, either. Catch and release? Hypocrisy? I honestly don’t know.
Regardless, the accomplishment is certainly admirable on a personal level. Of all the virtues that could be ascribed to it, I am most impressed by Gregorek’s patience. Unlike, say, the Marathon monks, who can be assured that each step they take brings them closer to their goal, no matter how much research he did, there was no way for Gregorek to know he was accomplishing anything until he actually hauled the fish on deck. I can only imagine the number of times he thoroughly researched a fish and its likely locations then spent weeks endlessly catching the wrong fish. That’s patience.
Then again, if the Marathon monks had a bad day, they were supposed to kill themselves swiftly. Poor Gregorek got to watch the sun set at an exotic beach while drinking another piña colada.
Perhaps the secret to patience is to pace yourself.