Gary Bulla grew up on the beaches and waters of the Southern California coast.
Gary found salt-water fly fishing to combine his long-time love for the ocean and his passion for fly fishing with the convenience of having big fish right at his back door. He quickly realized that there was not a great deal of information out there about catching salt-water species on the fly and began to use his knowledge of tides and tidal life to not only chase down surf perch, but corbina, halibut, and sea bass. It seemed that there was a fishery right along the shores of Southern California that would provide a great recreation, with some awesome challenges for the flyfishers of the area who were having to commit to a long weekend in the Eastern Sierras or elsewhere to cast a line. California corbina were the biggest and most interesting challenge. They were visible in the surf line-and a difficult challenge to the flyfisher. Perfect! Over the next few years, he spent his early mornings and late evenings patrolling the beaches, trying to develop presentations and flies that could bring to hand the corbina on a more consistent basis. He began guiding others and holding seminars on surf fishing. Through his website and a small community of hard core surf fishers the information on fly fishing the surf exploded, and so did the number of flyfishers walking the beaches. He also began cruising the kelp beds in his kayak, and developing flies that would attract the many varieties of fish found on the So. Calif. Coast. In 1989, he began accompanying his wife Theresa, a teacher, on trips with her middle school children to camp at Baja’s Magdalena Island to experience the gray whales and their young. He brought a fly rod and he became astounded at the incredible variety of fish that were available in the waters of Baja. Thus began a second quest and more years of experimentation that have led to his being the most active fly fishing guide for Baja waters and one of the more knowledgeable salt-water fly-fishers from Point Conception to the Sea of Cortez. He has landed over 160 species of fish in the salt on the fly. He spends several months a year hosting fly fishing trips blue water panga trips at Punta Arena/Cerralvo Island (in the Sea of Cortez) and other saltwater destinations. He also guides kayak fly fishing trips to Magdalena Island, Espiritu Santo Island or San Jose Island every year. Back at home he presents programs, teaches surf fishing clinics and guides in the surf in southern California waters. His photos have appeared in The Drake, Fly Rod and Reel, Patagonia Catalog and more. Southwest Flyfishing Magazine published his feature article with photos on “Flyfishing the Santa Barbara Surf” in their January/February 2106 issue.
The “Gremmie” surf fly was featured in California Flyfisher magazine. Flies that has become a standard for big game in Baja and beyond is his Papagallo and Tuna Tux series. The Tuna Tux was featured in Tony Lolli’s book “Go-to Flies”.
Gary holds the IGFA 16 pound tippet world record for California yellowtail at 34.7 pounds.
When Gary is not working the tide line he is at his studio, where he pursues his other passion as a custom furniture maker.
Photo right: At age 12, Gary was already pursuing big fish while visiting Cape Cod, Mass.