From an angling perspective,there are few things more challenging than completing one of the many slams the IGFA recognizes,” says the International Game Fish Association’s president, Rob Kramer. “Slams are so prestigious, because they require the angler to catch a collection of some of the most elite and elusive game fish … requiring an enormous amount of angling skill and determination, great chemistry with captain and crew, patience with Mother Nature, hungry fish and a little luck!”
Kramer also points out that while all fish must be caught under IGFA rules, they need not be weighed, so anglers may (and, he says, are encouraged to) release them at the boat.
That’s one difference between slams and world records (which must be weighed on land) kept by the IGFA. Another, in Kramer’s words: “Unlike world records, a slam can never be beaten.”
If you find the idea of earning this ultimate honor appealing, you’re not alone. Interest in slams has been growing since the IGFA began the slam-club program in 1992, Kramer says. The current record holder to beat is Gabrielle Knapp of Stuart, Florida, with 17 IGFA Grand Slams, more than any other angler.
Blue-Water Grand Slams
Whatever IGFA grand slam club an angler pursues or applies for, the same basic rule applies: For a grand slam, three species from that club’s list of recognized game fish must be caught (by the angler) on the same day; to nail a super grand slam, four species are required. Here’s the rundown on 10 total blue-water grand slams:
1. Offshore Grand Slam and 2. Super Grand Slam
Eligible species: blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, white marlin, sailfish, swordfish and spearfish.
Only 15 anglers have qualified for the super grand so far. “Catching four different billfish species in the same day has always been one of the most impressive offshore angling accomplishments in my eyes,” Kramer says. “So many things have to go right!”
3. Atlantic Offshore Grand Slam and 4. Super Grand Slam
Eligible species: tunas — bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye — and mako shark, with the provision that one billfish may be substituted for any one species.
The Atlantic Offshore Grand Slam Club has just four members and, so far, the Super Grand Slam Club has no members, offering serious exclusivity.
5. Mediterranean Grand Slam and 6. Super Grand Slam
Eligible species: swordfish, spearfish, albacore and bluefin tuna.
Surprisingly, to date no angler has yet qualified for the Mediterranean Grand Slam, though Italian Alberto Bartoli is the sole member of the Med Super Grand Slam Club, having caught an albacore, swordfish, spearfish and bluefin tuna on Sept. 22, 2009, fishing in Italian waters.
7. Pacific Offshore Grand Slam and 8. Super Grand Slam
Eligible species: bluefin, yellowfin and bigeye tuna, and any billfish.
A mere four anglers have managed to make the annals of the Pacific Grand to date; the Pacific Offshore Super Grand Club remains vacant.
9. Tuna Grand Slam and 10. Super Grand Slam
Eligible species: yellowfin, bluefin, bigeye and albacore.
The Tuna Super Grand Slam Club has but one member so far, Robert Weaver of Olivebridge, New York, approved in January 2009.
Blue-Water Royal Slams
Royal slams require an angler to catch all listed species, though he/she has a lifetime (not just one day) to do so. It’s taken much of a lifetime for many royal slam club members to realize that goal. Catches can be recognized retroactively, so, for example, John Walton of Sarasota, Florida, registered his first of nine billfish species with an Atlantic sail off Marathon (Florida Keys) in 1949 and finally wrapped up number nine, the elusive spearfish, fishing Portugal in 1995. Mike Leech, past president of the IGFA, started his billfish royal slam odyssey off Fort Lauderdale in 1954 with a sail, and nailed the slam nearly a half-century later, in 2000, with a spearfish, like Walton, but Kona proved the magic spot for Leech. On the other hand, Rob Ruwitch of Miami, managed his royal slam in just three months. The three royal slam clubs are based on types of fish:
1. Billfish Royal Slam
Nine required species: Pacific sailfish, Atlantic sailfish, Pacific blue marlin, Atlantic blue marlin, black marlin, striped marlin, white marlin, swordfish and spearfish.
A total of 89 anglers have at this time earned the honor. Some have done so multiple times.
2. Tuna Royal Slam
Eight required species: Atlantic or Pacific bigeye, blackfin, bluefin, dogtooth, longtail, skipjack, southern bluefin and yellowfin.
In all, just three anglers make up the Tuna Royal Slam Club.
3. Shark Royal Slam
Nine required species: blue, hammerhead, mako, thresher, tiger, white, tope, whaler and porbeagle.
Only four anglers currently qualify as members.