The Baja Catch by Neil Kelly and Gene Kira

The Baja Catch, Neil Kelly and Gene Kira
The Baja Catch, Neil Kelly and Gene Kira

If you buy just one book on fishing and adventuring in Baja this is the book. The authors, Neil Kelly and Gene Kira have covered every beach, bay and estuary of this magnificent peninsula. They are one of our own. They have car topped their aluminum boat into countless remote fishing holes that do not even have names.

Besides giving a comprehensive overview of the fishing on both sides of the Baja (Pacific and Sea of Cortez), they give in depth advice on remote camping and traveling that includes where to get gasoline, water, food and, most importantly, where to find ice and beer–two Baja essentials!

We lost Neil. He passed a few years ago and he will be missed by all of us but Gene carries on the tradition and is vigilant at updating the Catch. If you’re heading south, whether you fish or not, you need this book.

Kenneth L. Decroo, 2015

Log From the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts 

John Steinbeck’s The Log From the Sea of Cortez is a must-have book for serious Baja aficionados. It is an account of the glory days of Baja California before “improvements” such as the Transpeninsular Highway, hotel resorts and tourism. John Steinbeck, in his best narrative style, gives us back Baja…the Baja many of us still remember. He poignantly describes the essence of this remote, capricious territory and the beaconing sea that washes it shores. Steinbeck’s acute observation attempts to make sense of the mystique of this place, a place which has drawn so many of us out of our civilized comforts and sent us chasing down dusty, desolate roads in search of her remote bays and islands.

The author takes us back to the Baja of the early fortys, at the outbreak of WWII, when Gringos were still a novelty. We are caught up in an adventure of grand proportions where John Steinbeck along with his close friend, Ed Ricketts, circumnavigate the peninsula on the fishing trawler, The Western Flyer, collecting marine flora and fauna along the way. The reader is drawn into the this journey of exploration, as Steinbeck and crew fall under the spell of the mystery and power of this wonderous place.

The starkness of the Baja landscape and the warm, life-sustaining azure waters of the Sea of Cortez are painted in sharp contrast. Steinbeck attemps to make sense of a land that have confounded most who have touched her shores. He celebrates Baja’s ability to re-invent herself…to reclaim herself, as she has resisted centuries of invasion by people who would change her into their own image.

The reader is brought closer to the life of this place as we are introduced to the wonders of the Sea of Cortez. This book shows us that Baja and her people have remained true to her essence. We are given hope that this enchanted land, which has served so many of us as a misteress of adventure, will not decline or fade.

Read and re-read this book if you love Baja as I do!

Especially touching is Steinbeck’s essay and tribute to Ed Ricketts (“Doc” in Cannery Row & Sweet Thursday) who died shorty after their trip. In my opinion, this short, economical essay packed with Steinbeck’s descriptive power and emotion is Steinbeck at his best.

Kenneth L. Decroo, 1998

Upcoming reviews:

That Baja Feeling

All of McIntosh’s books about Baja

All of Earl Stanely Gardner’s books on Baja

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