Welcoming the new seasons, saying goodbye to Kahuna Sportfishing

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Monterey Bay anglers continue to enjoy fishing our winter species throughout the bay, from Monterey to Santa Cruz. For chartered boats, the main prey remains small flatfish caught in deep waters. Sand dabs may be small, but when you can catch and keep as many as you want, fun times and food supplies are guaranteed.

Chris’ fishing trips to Monterey reported the usual “lots of sand dabs” for their trips this week, plus 60 petral sole for the Check Mate and 26 Dungeness crabs shot on the Caroline.

Stagnaro’s Sportfishing in Santa Cruz is enjoying the same kind of success. Owner Ken Stagnaro reported, “21 anglers aboard the Legacy caught 350 beautiful sand dabs and 10 petrale sole! It was a great season for dabbing this winter!

We have finally arrived in March. This means it’s time to start preparing for our annual season openings. Beth Norton of Go Fish Santa Cruz is enthusiastic. His last message reads: “We are looking forward to the 2022 fishing season. Opening of the cod season (April 1). Opening of the salmon season (April 2). Meanwhile, JT is busy improving the charter boat Miss Beth. New fiberglass deck, lots of polishing, painting and other upgrades. JT will be the captain and JP, who we all know and love, will be the deckhand. The best around!” (Disclaimer: Beth Norton is the mother of JT Thomas, but we cannot dispute her rating of Miss Beth and the crew as the best. It is a clean and fast boat, very spacious and the crew is wild men when it comes to getting their customers to fish!)

Santa Cruz Coastal Fishing Charters is another six pack operation operating out of the Port of Santa Cruz. Owner Rodney Armstrong and his crew have been busy like a hive of hornets on S Dock all winter. Captain Rodney took the plunge at the end of the season last year and upgraded his boat. Armstrong is understandably excited and says, “Let’s go folks! New addition to our business! Get ready for a smooth and comfortable ride. She is 35 feet, 4 inches long and 12 feet, 1 inch wide, with slightly more speed than the Salmon Streaker. The Streaker has been good for us, but we can’t wait to race in the Knot Alone! Now we have a head, 5KW generator, killer stereo system, heater and of course, most importantly, tons of fishing room!” The new Maine Coaster is powered by an inboard Volvo Penta and appears to be a perfect six-packer for our region.

On a more regrettable note, we have learned that Moss Landing’s famous Kahuna Sportfishing operation has ceased operations and sold the boat. The Kahuna is now docked in San Diego and is expected to operate from H&M Landing. Owner Carol Jones has mixed emotions about the end of her nearly 30 years of operating the only charter boat in Moss. “The Kahuna has been sold!!!!” reports Carol. “Thank you all for your support over the years. It’s been a good ride but I’m leaving for other adventures. The Kahuna was special in many ways. The boat is a custom built 50ft Delta with no running boards and a “unique” custom Hoquiam wheelhouse/cabin. Originally built for the owner of the Delta Company, Jones purchased the Kahuna 33 years ago from the owners son. It featured a smaller cabin to accommodate more space on the fishing deck. And, it’s fast. Jones said, “It cuts through water like no other Delta.”

This speed was a plus for Jones and allowed Kahuna Charters to offer adventurous fishing trips to more remote locations. They are famous for their “Long Range” bottom fishing forays all the way south to Big Sur. Kahuna would extend as far north as Ano Nuevo and Franklin Point as well. The Kahuna was also the first large vessel chartered for salmon and halibut hunting in Monterey Bay. They were also dedicated to hunting albacore tuna far offshore when these fish were available.

Carol Jones threw herself heart and soul into the operations of Kahuna Charter and earned a fierce following of loyal customers, all dedicated anglers. We’re sure it’s bittersweet for Carol to give up this big part of her life. On a happy note, she can relax a bit these days. Boat rental operations bring an incredible amount of stress as well as the joy of providing good (sometimes spectacular) fishing for its customers. If you have any memories or great stories of times on the Kahuna, please drop Carol a note. She knows she has my sincere thanks for her dedication all these years, and I’m sorry to see the Kahuna go.

Allen Bushnell also operates Santa Cruz Kayak’s fishing and surfcasting guide service. Please send your reports, photos or questions to [email protected]

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