The Kahuna is back, and ready for action

The Kahuna is back, and ready for action
The Kahuna is BACK! And, Captain Joey Stagnaro is at the wheel. Get ready for some fun.

by Allen Bushnell

A little more than one year ago, this column was lamenting the loss of a long-time charter boat that operated out of Moss Landing. The Kahuna was the only charter fishing vessel working from Moss, and was renowned for 30 years as a fast, clean fishing machine. Owner Carol Jones was famous for her adventurous approach to chartering, including long range trips beyond Big Sur, albacore forays, dedicated halibut trips as well as the ever popular salmon and rockfishing charters. The boat was sold and moved to San Diego, most thought never to return.
Well, we have some good news to share. The Kahuna is BACK! Turns out the new owners of the boat are Santa Cruz natives and high-school sweethearts Angie and Nate Lackey. Earlier this year the couple decided to bring Kahuna back to Monterey Bay and resume fishing charters from Moss Landing. Key elements in their decision were the valuable advice and support of Carol Jones herself and the addition of Joey Stagnaro as skipper. Nate Lackey is excited about sharing this endeavor with Joey saying, “We basically grew up together here in Santa Cruz. We’re the same age and played on the same little league teams. I’ve know the Stagnaros and Joey forever!” Stagnaro has 30 years of charter fishing boat experience on Monterey Bay ranging from his famed family boats and including the Kahuna. He most recently has been captaining whale-watching tours in the Bay and jumped at the chance to get into the wheelhouse of the Kahuna upon its return to Moss Landing. The operation will begin chartering trips on Monday, May 1 when this year’s rockfishing season kicks off. 
With his unbroken lifetime history of fishing Monterey Bay and having grown up in the industry, Stagnaro is well situated to get on the hunt for deepwater rockfish that we are allowed to pursue this year. Fishing depths will not be constrained this season, opening up a vast amount of area past the 300-foot line that has not been disturbed for over 20 years. Deepwater species such as the chili pepper rockfish are favorites of old school long-time anglers. “I know where the spots are out there,” Stagnaro related. He added, “People forget what it was like to get 100-pound bags of rockfish limits. Dust off your 4/0 reels, this is not light tackle fishing!” 
The Lackeys and Stagnaro plan to continue the winning blueprint established by Carol Jones for Kahuna Sportfishing. Jones is on board as an invaluable advisor. In addition to the deepwater rockfish trips, the charters will include long-range trips past Point Sur and Ano Nuevo, dedicated halibut trips, tuna hunting for bluefin and albacore when productive and of course, trolling or mooching for salmon once that fishery reopens. “This boat has speed and it has legs,” said Stagnaro. “Twin Turbo Ecodeisels make cruising at 18 knots a breeze, and with full tanks the range is well over 500 miles.” In addition, the Kahuna is fully stocked and prepared with tackle and gear for any sort of local fishing. I, for one, cannot wait to get back aboard the Kahuna for a springtime trip or two and want to express my gratitude to the Lackeys for bringing the boat back to the Bay.

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