Neil Kelly and Gene Kira

The Baja Catch author Neil Kelly.

Neil Kelly was born in Michigan in 1924. During grade school, Neil joined the Boy Scouts and learned how to tie flies, soon inventing a little cricket-sized, cork bodied “black bug” that he used to terrorize the blue gills, perch, and occasional bass among the lily pads of his youth. After settling in San Diego with his wife Josie, Neil always kept one hand on the old fly rod, with which he pounded the lakes of San Diego County and northern Mexico, racking up tremendous catches of bass and panfish. Thirty or 40 fish in a morning was the rule in those days. Neil’s taste in fly fishing gradually switched to trout. He developed three hybrid nymph/wet flies, that he fished off the bottom about eight inches below a BB shot. With these flies, Neil “vacuum cleanered” the trophy streams of the West until a heart attack stopped his high altitude, commando-style assaults on rocky stream beds. Confined to lower elevations, Neil gave Baja California a try almost by accident, and the rest is history. Neil fished Baja’s 2,000-mile coast several times over in small aluminum boats. In doing so he caught and released over 27,000 saltwater game fish of over 50 species. Neil's meticulous records and his photographic recall of his Baja fishing career eventually resulted in The Baja Catch. Neil Kelly, one of the greatest Baja anglers ever, passed away in 1999.

The Baja Catch author Gene Kira.

Gene Kira was born in San Diego in 1946. In the early fall of 1963, he took off in a friend’s Cessna 182 and landed in another world called L.A. Bay. Mamá and Papá Diaz held court at the old place, with their kids running around in little white cotton outfits, and the shed was full of turtles moaning and shifting in the dark. The legendary yellowtail bite was in full swing, and the outer edges of the schools could not be seen, even if you stood up in the boat. Gene was hooked on Baja. A few years later, Vietnam was going on, and Gene was unintentionally launched on a writing career by the quirks of military planning, as he was made first a reporter and newspaper editor in northern Italy, and then a combat reporter and photographer attached to the U.S. Seventh Air Force in Saigon. Later, Gene returned to live in Italy and worked as a copy editor for an English language daily newspaper in Rome. More writing and editing followed in New York City, where he staffed on an aviation magazine, and took a degree in English literature at Columbia University before moving back to San Diego and resuming his remote travels and fishing trips throughout Baja California. Between Baja trips, Gene writes and lives with his wife, Mary, and their two children in the rural foothills of San Diego County. He is also author of King of the Moon, A Novel of Baja California; The Unforgettable Sea of Cortez, Baja California's Golden Age 1947-1977, The Life and Writings of Ray Cannon; former weekly Mexico Reports Editor for Western Outdoor News; and editor of Mexico Fishing News at

Reprinted from The Baja Catch: A Fishing, Travel & Remote Camping Manual for Baja California (Mexico), 3rd Edition. May not be copied or reproduced without written permission. Important warning, notice, and disclaimer about the information contained in The Baja Catch.