By Gene Kira, January 19, 2004, as published in Western Outdoor News:
"It's a done deal," was how Tom Ward put it on Friday, as he described the long-awaited purchase of a new Midriff panga mothership for the legendary sportfishing company, Tony Reyes Fishing Tours at San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico.
But--hola!--there was a surprise ending to the Reyes family's long search for a new San Felipe fishing boat, which seems to have taken at least the last two-thousand years. After looking at hulls on both U.S. coasts and all over Mexico, Ward, Tony Reyes, and Tony Reyes Jr. finally settled on a boat right in their own backyard--San Felipe's Capt. Villegas--a competing mothership that will now become part of a two-boat Tony Reyes fleet.
According to the two Tonys, there is still some legal paperwork to be filed by the lawyers, but both they and Ward agree the deal has been struck. Their "new" mothership will be put into service this April. It will be re-christened the Tony Reyes, with it's new registered owner as Tony Reyes Jr., i.e., Tony Reyes Montez (the tall one with no wrinkles).
Don Tony Sr.--the ageless, highly respected goodwill ambassador and symbolic patriarch of San Felipe--couldn't be happier. The Capt. Villegas is a great boat in good condition, and papá has been looking long and hard for a steel hull that will take his son's career into the future.
I don't know how many times, over the years, Don Tony fooled me by saying with a straight face that he'd finally found a new boat, and he would take me into his office to see a picture of it. There, he would point to a wall poster of the ill-fated luxury liner, Titanic, and let out a big laugh.
Jokes aside, this was a consequential, serious search for a good steel boat, and I'm glad for the Reyes family that it's finally over.
The larger, faster Tony Reyes will now operate out of San Felipe side-by-side with the company's traditional wooden-hulled boat, the Jose Andres, and both boats will depart on Sundays. Both boats will run the usual six-day Midriff Islands trips, although Ward said he's planning to use the new Tony Reyes' greater capability to go farther south for more summertime migratory species, and he may also run shorter trips during the winter months.
Tony Jr., of course, will become the new captain of his father's namesake boat. According to him, no final decision has been made on who will become the new captain of the Jose Andres.
As before, Tom Ward will be the exclusive booking agent for the Tony Reyes boats, through his well-known Longfin Tackle Store in Orange, CA, 714-538-8010, email@example.com. Ward says they are going first-class with the new operation, which will have all-new pangas and four-stroke outboards for the Tony Reyes, and all-new four-strokes for the Jose Andres this season.
Still being negotiated with the new owners of the boat are about 100 bookings that were taken previously for the Capt. Villegas by Dave Meyers' Jigstop Tours for the coming 2004 season.
According to the Longfin's Ward, none of these previous bookings involved full boats, so there should be no problems in accommodating all Capt. Villegas anglers on the newly renamed Tony Reyes. However, as of this weekend, Ward and Meyers were still working out final details of the deal.
With the long-standing goodwill and solid-platinum reputation that Ward and the Reyes family have built through many seasons of fishing out of San Felipe, both boats are already filling up. Ward said on Friday that the Jose Andres is well on its way to being sold-out for the 2004 season, and he already has about 18 trips sold on the new Tony Reyes.
Mile by mile, over the coming years, the Tony Reyes will now slowly create its own San Felipe fishing legend on the Sea of Cortez. Buena suerte, que le vaya bien.
(Related San Felipe articles and reports may be found at Mexfish.com's main San Felipe information page. See weekly fishing news, photos, and reports from the major sportfishing vacation areas of Mexico including the San Felipe area in "Mexico Fishing News.")