Jeff Feczko is a Renaissance man. He can repair the outer board, has a USCG 100T captain’s license, is working on a pilot license, extraordinary seafood chef, free diver and fisherman for food, rated flying tape (IFTD best waters model saline 2022) and was built as a miniature Roman sculpture, and the list goes on.
And then there are the roosters. Jeff’s mother once said to him referring to the turkey: “I think you have an inner sense of those things. I do not think you just see them. You feel them. ” Moreover, Montana’s respected guide, Dan “Rooster” Leavens, said of Jeff: “If you cut Jeff’s head with an ax, no doubt the rooster would spill.” We are excited to add Jeff to our ongoing “Behind the Guides” blog series featured by Costa Sunglasses. Watch the full interview with Jeff below.
Flylords: At what point in your life did fishing start to play a bigger role?
Feczko: I have fished all my life, but the severity of the matter intensified around the age of 21, when travel became an easier reality.
Flylords: Where is your home now and where in the world are you leading for a year? Where else did you instruct?
Feczko: The house is now La Ribera, BCS where I spend the winter until early summer. I have a Mexican work permit as a freelance fishing and diving guide and guide here. I then head to Bristol Bay, Alaska to tour with Intricate Bay Lodge in July. In late October I will be guiding with Los Locos Mag Bay of San Carlos, BCS. I am planning to check out Colombia soon to explore the fulfillment of my slowest winter months here in Baja with organized trips to Colombia.
I started running Alaska in Southeast, Ketchikan & Sitka. Then there was Cook Inlet, Bristol Bay and out on the Alaska Peninsula. I spent a few years out in the Seychelles guiding for Alphonse fishing Co in St Francois, Astove & Cosmoledo.
Flylords: Where was your first guide work and how did it materialize?
Feczko: My first guide job was at Silver Salmon Creek Lodge with the help of Sweetwater Guide School in Livingston, MT. It was a delightful experience, far more difficult than watching a bear – it was not really what I was looking for. Shortly thereafter, I obtained my USCG 100T captain’s license and began working in the Southeast, which I fell in love with for many years.
Flylords: When did you start dealing with fly linking?
Feczko: I started tying flies around the age of 11 when I got my first fly rod. I would basically just steal my mom’s sewing equipment and make all sorts of hilarious flies and poppers. I became much more adept with it when I moved to Alaska when I was 22 – grabbing Clousers, rabbit caterpillars, big bait fish and more.
Flylords: What should be the expectations of your ideal client for Baja?
Feczko: To learn! And enjoy becoming a better fisherman in the most beautiful and relaxing place in the world. It’s a very challenging fishing trip that requires you to be patient and persistent – it helps many of you come up with a good strong cast, line management skills and the ability to stay calm under pressure. When aiming for the rooster from the beach – you are testing everything you have.
Flylords: 3 favorite fish to target and why.
Feczko: Rooster: They are exotically beautiful, rare, strong, extremely selective and will break you. In my opinion, a rooster from the beach is the highest achievement in fishing.
Jack Crevalle: They are more often than not savage and will do exactly what you want them to do. They will take almost anything you put in front of them and will do their best to make sure you do not take it. To me they are a symbol of strength and resilience, plus they will not break your heart if you lose one. There is nothing like seeing a pack of 100 or more Jacks 20 # + loading a teaser.
Pargo or Yellowtail: Both are very difficult to catch in flight without added encouragement (spouse) They are both incredibly strong and if the structure is present, they will find it if you let them. Easy up there with my favorite fish to eat. Vertical jigging is extremely fun and effective for them.
Flylords: Living in Baja based only on geography, puts you in a position to have a diet mostly with fish. Do you fish for food? Free diving?
Feczko: Absolutely. My diet is mainly fish and shellfish, vegetables and fruits. I usually fish the first light with my surfcasting equipment for fish food or adjust and go shoot them with my spear gun :).
There was about a 3 week period this spring where I ate sash basically every night.
Flylords: Why Baja?
Feczko: Baja is full of mystery and it is still the wild and wild west. There are still many points to discover and there is a serious element of danger in finding them, which is exciting to me. Topographic diversity and fish species are unparalleled – for example in Mag Bay, we have numerous fishing opportunities in surf, rock, mangrove and / or blue water.
The people, the culture, the language, the food and the climate are just as impressive and rewarding. It’s easily my favorite place on all my travels.
Flylords: The most difficult aspects of running in Baja?
Feczko: Reduced access, pressure and overall difficulty of achieving target species.
Flylords: Many ex-Pat fly fishing guides in Baja have not had the friendliest reputation. What sets you apart?
Feczko: I am only interested in my business! I just want to give people positive experiences. Life is much more enjoyable when people respect each other – in my opinion, it is an easy choice to make. We are all here doing similar things, with similar goals. Why not coexist peacefully?
Flylords: What question would you like someone to ask you? What is your answer?
Feczko: Why over the last 6 years have you gotten more into conventional fishing? Well, it’s very effective and efficient very quickly. Some conditions really require it, if I am hungry – I am with fishing gear or spear. It is not as easy as people seem to think. Can you accurately and consistently toss a 12 ‘150 yds surfboard in front of a fast moving fish? Can you hold your breath for a minute or more in depth and wait for the right moment to make the kick? Everything super fun and makes you a better fisherman.
Flylords: It seems that you are strongly promoting in your daily life that the whole experience is much greater than the sum of simply catching fish. Through free diving, in-flight connectivity, insanely good cooking using local ingredients, etc. Is this mindset something new for you?
Feczko: It really has to do with experience and I have been on that program for a while – before I started working with fish, cooking in restaurants – it makes me completely happy to cook and it is even better when it is something you have caught / shot. I have a similar pleasure from catching fish with the flies it binds. I try not to get a lot of tunnel vision with the fish intentions, when it does it usually works against you.
Flylords: Costa’s favorite couple and why?
Feczko: I like Blackout Fantail, they fit my face well and block out a ton of sunshine. I prefer Green mirror lens because it creates an amazing contrast with the color of the water / substrate here.
Thank you Feczko for the time he found for the interview.
Interviews and photos by Nick Price, see more of Nick’s work here www.nickpricephotography.com.
Costa behind guides: Lael Paul Johnson
Costa behind the guides: Jako Lucas