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The Fishermen of San Felipe

The Fishermen of San Felipe
By Lee Lyons and Victor Rodriguez
The wonder of the Sea of Cortez goes far beyond its natural beauty. A haven for swimmers, boaters, and photographers, and a paradise for naturalists, much of the allure of this Baja coastal area resides in the remnants of its storied history.

Before there were tourists, before there were sun-worshipping vacationers and winter residents, there were the fishermen of San Felipe. They gave the town its first taste of prosperity and put San Felipe on the map. The Sea of Cortez offered up catches so abundant that the "fish taco" became a local staple and a Baja delicacy. Shrimp, shark, totoaba (sea bass), cabrilla (rock fish) and baqueta (grouper) abounded in the clear waters, providing a rich harvest for the fishermen.

Since the early days of World War II and until recently, fishing was a good living. The old fishermen of San Felipe tell the story of how they came with their families as young children or, later, as young men, seeking to establish themselves in a good profession. They made the difficult journey from Loreto and other locations throughout Mexico, first, by canoe or small boat and then, overland, to San Felipe. It took as long as three months to make the trip from Loreto, but it was worth it because fish were plentiful and the life of a fisherman was a good one.