Have you shied away from saltwater fly fishing because it seems coarse and inelegant compared to trout fishing? Perhaps you think it is less of an intellectual game, more suited to those with more brawn than brain? (Please don’t say my name all at once.) Think saltwater is synonymous with guys swilling Budweiser wearing T-shirts decorated with marlin and sailfish? Or maybe you don’t want to schlep to the Florida Keys or Belize to have a chance at some world class fishing?
We’ll break those myths at this coming meeting.
Gary Bulla grew up in Southern California, living an active outdoor life style, including fly fishing. After settling in the Ventura area, in 1989 Gary’s friend, Yvon Chouinard, showed him how much fun it was to cast flies in the surf. That same year, he started accompanying his wife Theresa, a marine biology teacher, when she took her middle school students on ambitious camping trips down to Baja’s Magdalena Bay, Loreto, and La Paz areas. He brought his fly rod, and used a kayak to explore everything from the mangroves to the deep waters of Southern Baja, places like Espiritu Santo Island and San Jose Island. Trip after trip, skipping guides and the beaten path, Gary’s curiosity and appreciation for nature helped him discover a new Baja full of adventure for someone with a fly rod. This wasn’t just about catching fish, but about enjoying the birds, marine mammals, and plants you’d otherwise miss.
Each expedition lead by Gary consists of approximately a dozen fly fishermen, and you get the benefit of his decades of Baja experience. For success, you need to know how to rig your tackle, which flies to use, the most effective retrieve to attract strikes, etc. Depending on the season, the weather, and chance, your catch may include dorado, roosterfish, yellowfin tuna, skipjack, and jack crevalle.
Think this write-up sounds like a shameless plug? It is, and I’m the guilty party. After many years of friendship with Gary, several years ago I finally went on one of his panga trips to the Punta Arena area (disclosure: I paid full fare). Gary is some kind of wizard when it comes to fly fishing Baja. I was rewarded with heart-stopping topwater action for roosterfish, nabbing perhaps a dozen in a morning. The afternoons brought us everything from dorado and skipjack to jack crevalle, plus one magical moment when a marlin cruised right under our panga and grabbed my buddy’s fly.
While still pleasantly soft spoken, Gary has received some recognition for his Baja accomplishments in fly fishing magazines, and his trips are often booked a year ahead. He designed both the Tuna Tux and Papagallo flies, with the Tux being one of the best, all-around Baja flies. You can see more about his trips, his flies, and both Baja and local surf fishing conditions at www.garybulla.com.
When Gary isn’t in Baja, he lives in Ventura County, where he often runs surf casting clinics and is a local surf guide, as well as being a member of the Sespe Fly Fishers. Gary’s “real” business is designing and creating amazing wood cabinetry and furniture (www.garybullawood.com).
Join us Thursday evening, April 11th, at 7:30 p.m. at the San Marino Masonic Lodge, 3130 Huntington Drive, San Marino, 91108.
Seymour R. Singer