Tony Peña’s career as an internationally-known writer/photographer for outdoor publications started by fishing the muddy backwaters of San Diego Bay, California with a handline when he was five years old. Growing up in the “projects”, a neighborhood composed of former Navy housing in the San Diego suburb of National City, provided Tony with a fairly short hike to the shoreline of the Bay. “I didn’t catch many fish in that poor habitat besides sting rays and small sand sharks, but I never gave up”, says Tony. It was a great opportunity to learn about tides and the natural world first-hand while developing a sense of persistence and wanderlust that continues to serve him well as he pursues his dream of finding the ultimate unspoiled fishing paradise. A low budget, 37-hour train ride to Mazatlan, Mexico resulted in his first billfish catch in 1969 which only whetted his appetite. Tony graduated from Sweetwater High School in 1966 and San Diego State University in 1970 (with honors). As a graduate assistant in geography at San Diego State in the early 70’s, Tony read copies of fishing magazines while administering exams to undergraduates, thinking of ways to fish the exotic locales described in their pages.
Using his background in geography he became a city planner in 1972 and, true to form, bought a fishing boat before he purchased his first home. After setting several IGFA world records in San Diego’s offshore waters, Tony got his first article published in a regional magazine in 1978. By 1984 he expanded his technical how-to articles to include fishing destinations such as Australia and was well on his way to becoming a leading international fishing and travel authority. Tony continues to be a regular contributor to national publications such as Marlin, Salt Water Sportsman and Sport Fishing Magazine as well as Maxim, Las Vegas Travel, Southeast Asia Fishing World and Los Cabos Tournament Magazine. Tony is also noted by Google and Yahoo for developing the “Tony Peña Knot” and for naming the “Tuna Coast” of Panama.
As a freelance writer and photographer, Tony has traveled to over 18 countries including Thailand, Marshall Islands, Palau, Fiji, Panama, Costa Rica and Venezuela and has set 18 IGFA world records in the process. As a fishing guide he has led other anglers to 17 IGFA records as well. Tony recognized early in his career that photography is an important asset to an outdoor writer and he was awarded “Best Photo Series” by the Outdoor Writers Association of California for 1998, 2001, 2003 and 2010 (2nd) as well as Best Magazine Feature for 2010 (Marlin Magazine "Travel Safely"). A strong advocate of wildlife conservation, Tony is a member of United Anglers of California as well as promoting the benefits of catch and release throughout his travels.
After 36 years, Tony retired from the City of Coronado as Director of Community Development in 2008 and moved to Valley Center (north San Diego County) on a 2.5 acre resort-style home where he completed a custom 45 foot pool. “Gotta be near water”, he says. Tony still travels internationally about six times a year and has articles published for his “hard work”.
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The Roving Angler