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NEWS & POLITICS - Remembering Baja Legend Tony Reyes

Tony Reyes Memorial
After a long battle to keep his failing kidneys going, Tony Reyes, 86, surrounded by family and friends, passed away on December 18, 2009. His loss will be felt deeply by those who knew and respected him and his contributions to Baja and fishing communities.

For over half a century, Tony and his son gave avid and novice sportfishermen the chance to conquer the seas. A force of nature, Tony was loved and respected by every angler he came into contact with. As proprietor of Tony Reyes Fishing Tours, he gave the average citizen a chance to experience life on the high seas and earned the admiration of generations of fishermen who knew him.

Born into poverty as one of 13 children, Tony bounced around and dabbled in virtually every industry and job field until finally answering the call of the sea in the 1950s. As a deckhand in San Felipe, Tony learned the ways of sea navigation and fishing. He began taking small groups of tourists out for day excursions then eventually took them out for several days. These early trips earned him the reputation of a knowledgeable seafarer and adventurous hard worker. He so impressed those early tourists that they found themselves investing in his dream and encouraging him to expand the flourishing business.

Starting with one boat and no outboard motor, Tony would diligently row four miles each way to take tourists to the best fishing spots. He soon had hoards of customers booking advanced adventures with his tours. He became a successful businessman and a fishing legend at the same time. With pictures to prove his conquest, Tony was known for reeling in some of the largest and most spectacular catches ever known in the Sea of Cortez. There are many black and white photographs that show Tony proudly displaying sharks and yellowtail catches that amaze even the most seasoned fishermen. Tony enjoyed taking many sportfishermen out to enjoy the riches of San Felipe, Mag Bay and the Midriff Island Region for decades. From March through November, Tony Reyes Fishing Tours would end up hosting hundreds of fishermen each season.

In his later years, he handed the job of skipper over to his son but still remained a treasured part of the fishing community. He thoroughly enjoyed handling the business side of Tony Reyes Fishing Tours and was a local celebrity of sorts when he would go to the Southern California Fred Hall fishing tackle shows each year.

There are plans to spread Tony's ashes around the area he loved and called home. He will be remembered not only as a legend and giant in the local fishing industry, but also as a man who helped countless individuals explore the seas and live out their own adventures.

Tony Reyes (left), with "Papa" and Chi Chi Fernandez with a gigantic totuava near 300 pounds in weight, Bahía San Luis Gonzaga, c. 1954.

Tony Reyes at the 2007 San Felipe Shrimp Festival reading San Felipe magazine, three months before we changed our name to Mexico Living.

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