On December 11th, I was fortunate enough to board the Kahuna from Moss Landing for the last of their special âlong distanceâ redfish trips to the southern part of Big Sur in 2021.
Kahuna Sportfishing is based at Moss Landing and the 50ft Delta Kahuna is fast and efficient. Owner Carol Jones reminds us that the Kahuna has been Moss’s only missing charter fishery since 1992. Their central location on Monterey Bay allows them to head north or south depending on the bite, and they specialize in fishing. salmon fishing and albacore trips when conditions permit.
It’s an outfit that’s not afraid to take risks and has a fierce group of loyal customers. A few fishermen go out on the Kahuna almost every week. That’s not to say that there is some sort of possessiveness or arrogant regulars on the boat in my experience. Every trip I have had on the Kahuna has featured a friendly and fun crowd as well as an efficient deckhand and seasoned skipper.
We had 20 fishermen on board for this over three hour trip south of Big Sur. At the helm was Brian Cutting, who was a replacement for the weekend, but who had previously been behind the wheel for many years. Cutting knows the boat, the spots and especially the fish in this whole area.
The scenery during the journey alone is worth the price of a ticket as it is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The Santa Lucia Mountains rise steeply from the shore, with peaks appearing to rise directly from the ocean. Most notable is Cone Peak, which shows the largest increase in coastal elevation in the lower 48 states, rising nearly one mile (5,155 feet / 1.6 km) above sea level , just 3 miles (4.8 km) from the ocean.
For a fisherman, Big Sur’s most valuable aspect is the exceptional rock structure and the lack of fishing pressure in the area. We have the impression of going back in time, with the number and quality of fish available in the region. Going up the California coast, one would have to reach the Lost Coast area below Shelter Point to enjoy similar remote fishing rewards.
This long-distance trip was “artificial only, no bait,” so everyone was prepared with their best line of swim baits, squid lures, and irons. For those chasing redfish, the reds seem to be the most favored. In my opinion, Big Reds are the best eaters of all rockfish and often the best fighters. They shoot very hard with sudden jerks of the head. A cranky verm can provide quite a fight, especially when using light equipment. To play sports, I used a 6ft 6in Daiwa spinning rod, “medium” rated at 20 pounds, with my vintage Okuma Millionaire round coiled with a 20 # braid. A 1.5 oz Idemoto KingMaster gold lure completed my presentation. The combo fell slowly and recovered more slowly, and with the light of the drag play, each fish was that much more exciting.
We started in 60 feet of water, just outside the kelp beds near Limekiln State Park, about 70 miles from our starting point in Moss Landing. Almost immediately, large vermilion and canaries were coming over the rail with an occasional lingcod. Cutout spotted with a few daggerboards inside, reminding us that “we’re only allowed five vermilion per bag, so save room for the deeper reefs we’re going to hit”.
The deep reefs were just as entertaining, with bigger fish coming from 250 to 300 feet of water. The final score of the day was redfish limits, vermilion sub limits, a nice brass mix with a few bocaccio and nine ling weighing up to eight pounds each. A beautiful transport for a fun day!
After leaving the harbor before sunrise, we enjoyed a smooth ride back to Moss, arriving just after dark around 5.30pm. A 12 hour trip for rockfish! To my knowledge, no other charter company offers this kind of long lasting experience. Bring plenty of food and water for the day, and plenty of layers of clothing in case things get cold and wet. Thanks to Carol Jones and Kahuna Sportfishing for another unique NorCal fishing experience.
Allen Bushnell also operates the Santa Cruz Kayak Fishing and Surfcasting Guide Service. Please send your reports, photos or questions to [email protected]