Tony Peña, a BD Outdoors Pro Staff member for Panama and an internationally-known writer/photographer/contributor for numerous outdoor publications, began fishing in the muddy backwaters of San Diego Bay with a hand line at five years old.
Tony, a native San Diegan, lived in National City then, a short hike to the shoreline of the Bay.
“I didn’t catch many fish besides stingrays and small sand sharks in that poor habitat, but I never gave up,” he later said. The Bay provided him with a great opportunity to learn about tides and the natural world first-hand while developing a sense of persistence and wanderlust that continued to serve him well as he pursued his dream of finding the ultimate, unspoiled fishing paradise.
Peña graduated from Sweetwater High School in 1966 and San Diego State University with honors in 1970. (As a graduate assistant in geography at SDSU in the early 1970s, Tony read copies of fishing magazines while administering exams to undergraduates, thinking of ways to fish the exotic locales described in their pages.)
By 1984, he expanded his technical how-to articles to include fishing destinations such as Australia; he was well on his way to becoming a leading international fishing and travel authority.
He fell in love with Sabrina, the love of his life, fishing partner and best friend. Andreona, their daughter, was the apple of their eye. Tony taught them to fish and opened the world to them with adventures of a lifetime.
He began publishing articles and photos in fishing magazines. As a freelance writer and photographer after spending many years on the water, he traveled to more than 19 countries including Thailand, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Fiji, Panama, Costa Rica and Venezuela. He set 18 IGFA world records in the process. During his career as a fishing guide, he led other anglers to 17 IGFA world records as well.
A strong advocate of conservation, Peña promoted 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.
Tony is noted by fishing enthusiasts the world over, along with Google and Yahoo, for developing the “Tony Peña Knot” and for naming the “Tuna Coast” of Panama.
In every aspect of his life – from his work, to his fishing trips – he was a meticulous planner. He once shared with Sabrina that if he could have his way, it would be his desire to pass away in his sleep. That is exactly what happened on January 17, suffering a heart attack while sleeping.
Tony planned his life his way, on his own terms. He was truly an inspiration to many that he touched with his kindness and encouragement.
Services are set for February 16 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, National City, at 10 a.m. His ashes will eventually be spread off San Diego Bay and Panama.
February 16, 10 a.m.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
426 E. 7th Street
National City, CA 91950
Information: (619) 474-1501