The 2003 Bunny Clark Guestletter

Tim Tower's annual primer on the year 2002 Bunny Clark fishing season

(This contains more information with less pictures than the hard copy version of the same.)

January 15, 2003

Dear Guests:

When I was a boy, between the times that my father sold his herring seiner and high school, I enjoyed lobstering and commercial harpoon tuna fishing. The radio was always on during these trips. All the boat captains shared the same small number of channels and you would hear all categories of fishermen talking to their respective buddies. One of the most frequently heard fishermen on the radio was Ricky Gauron who I believe ran the Miss Hampton Beach, a party fishing boat out of Hampton, New Hampshire. I can remember thinking that I would never choose that type of work for my vocation. How could someone enjoy taking out a bunch of highlanders who were drinking and getting their lines tangled all day? Much has changed since those first thoughts. After this Bunny Clark fishing season I have been in the passenger carrying business for twenty-eight years and, with very few exceptions, have loved every minute of it. I have found that people really make it more enjoyable to be out there, the drinking can be controlled and the experience of fishing is totally dependent upon how you organize your business. I have also come to recognize Rick as an intelligent individual who is one of the best in the business and a representative of a lot of good party boat fishing businesses found up and down the New England coast.

[The image on the left is a shot of Arnie Buza (NJ) holding his 49 pound cod near the stern of the Bunny Clark during a fall offshore marathon fishing trip.]

Last season was the twentieth Bunny Clark fishing season. In some ways it was one of our most unique. The weather was almost perfect the whole year with a very much warmer spring than normal, a hot summer and a calmer than normal fall. The year was the most productive we have seen in over a decade with respect to Maine state trophy fish (A state trophy is a fish of a designated weight where the state recognizes the angler for an outstanding achievement award. These fish have to be caught under the angling rules and there is a minimum acceptance weight. For example, a cod has to attain a weight of at least 25 pounds, a pollock: 25 pounds, a haddock: 7 pounds, a wolffish: 15 pounds, a cusk: 12 pounds and a white hake: 15 pounds. Some species - i.e.: monkfish, redfish & whiting. - have just been recognized by the state of Maine and will be noted this season. A monkfish has to be 20 pounds, a redfish 2 and the whiting 3 pounds. Also, the state has just raised the trophy hake size from 15 to 25 pounds for the 2003 fishing season. ). Some species landed were the biggest we have ever seen; one became a state record. Some species were more frequent in the larger sizes than we have seen since the first couple of years in the business. All species were larger on average than they have been for years. Our new anglers and our regular anglers were more successful than they have been for many seasons, certainly a hard act to follow for the upcoming fishing season. Lastly, we expanded our fishing area into corners we have never fished before.

I introduced the youngest captain in New England to my fishing guests last season. Captain Kenton Geer, at only twenty years old, hosted more trips than any hired captain on the Bunny Clark before him. Working for us as a mate for three years previously, my thought was that he would be a new fresh start for the business. I believe I was right. Kenton was largely responsible for our best trophy fish season in over a decade. His directness, honesty, fairness, drive, kindness and his love of the game made him an asset to our business. I am very much looking forward to having him back again.

My right hand man and deck hand all year long, Ian Keniston, was back and better than ever. It has gotten to the point in my career that when I have an issue of importance, I consult with Ian before I make a decision. One of the hardest workers I have ever met, Ian is blessed with the gift of common sense that is so often lacking in the majority. He is also the consummate professional in every aspect of the mate's position on a party boat. Along with this he is a great boat handler. He has a wonderful ability to truly enjoy what he is doing and the people around him. When Ian is aboard, I always feel that whatever happens, things will turn out all right. You can't know how important that is to me either aboard or ashore wishing I were there!

One of my best deck hands, Tim Rider, was with us for his second season last year. This was also his final season as he is taking a full time year round commercial fishing position. Very practical with a good sense of humor, he made it fun for everyone to be on the ocean. He never let me down and will be sorely missed. At the time of this writing, we have no one to replace Tim's position on the Bunny Cark but we are presently interviewing potential applicants.

Seventeen year old Jim Burns (CT) and sixteen year old Leon Hadley (NH) were aboard on several occasions as extra deck hands. Handy with the equipment, they were a great help while aboard.

The 2002 fishing season proved another good testing ground for the improvements we made over the winter. Most notable were the fiberglass "Merv Series" jig sticks that I introduced on the first fishing day. A copy of our most popular jig stick (of which I only had one last year and made famous by the one who most used it: Marian "Merv" Murphy (NH) from that wonderful contemporary folk band, Aquahtenang.), I don't believe we would have seen as much success with the big fish had we been without them. More forgiving and well balanced, they were easy to use for casting and very few fish were lost while using them. The new extended fore grip also made them the most comfortable rod to fish with. Saco Bay Tackle Company, Saco, Maine made them for me and I was very pleased with the workmanship. So much so, that very few of these rods had to be touched before this next season starts - very unusual for a rod on the Bunny Clark!

The introduction of the Pro Gear 3500 was another success story. Many of our top anglers used these reels for their casting ability and lightness. Anything that will allow you to physically stay at the rail for a longer time period is always a plus and this is just what these new reels allowed you to do. Armed with this reel spooled up with fifty pound test Spectra line with a Jinkai clear monofilament leader on a Merv Series rod, I would say you were about as ready as you could be.

This season we will be saying goodbye to the Newell reels. They have been good reels but my experience has been that you have to be more of a professional fisherman to use them. Over-wraps were commonplace when spooled with Micron line; the drag system was too touchy for the uninformed and the handles all too often didn't hold up under a load. We will be replacing these reels with the new Penn 113H. These reels are the same reel that we use for our boat rods, often called rental rods on other party boats. The difference will be the new aluminum spool for lightness. Also, these reels will be modified by Bob Nixon to approximate the same condition we get with the Pro Gear reels. A faster bearing will be added to improve the casting ability, Ian will trick out the drag system and a longer power handle will replace the standard Penn handle. Some of these reels will be spooled with Spectra line as a standard issue. Also, we will be offering them in a left-handed version. All in all, I expect the modified Penn reel to be a reel that will make you feel like an expert without having to go to school to learn to be one.

As is the case every year, there will be many other improvements that are not worth a mention here but will be noticed when you step aboard this season.

Our website at continues to be the location where you can get information about the Bunny Clark operation on a daily basis during the season and off-season. We have a schedule and rates section, a photo section, a world records section and more. Our fishing update section provides anglers with up to date information on the daily catch, fish sizes, daily weather, angler deeds and fishery management information. Although I can't personally answer all the e-mail that comes in associated with the site, our staff does a great job answering reservation questions and scheduling fishing dates. We are not planning to use the e-mail as a direct source of making reservations as the phone serves as a better means to take care of anyone. Also, unless you specifically ask for a hard copy (see the attached coupon), this guestletter will only be available via my web page. From there, you can download it to hard copy. If you sent in a coupon last year, you will not need to send another this year in order to receive your guestletter through the mail.

The fishing last season was better than normal for big fish but we caught fewer fish overall. Part of the reason for more limited landings was a species shift. Specifically, we saw less pollock recruitment to the fishing grounds. Pollock usually make up the largest percentage of landings in the fall. This year that wasn't the case. Also, we avoided areas where we had our best fishing for smaller cod in the past. This shift was prompted by a change in Federal regulation on cod and haddock that went into effect on May 1, 2002. Most significantly, the minimum size for keeping a cod went from 21 inches to 23 inches. At the same time, a bag limit of ten cod/haddock was also imposed. This was an aggregate limit (i.e.: if there were 30 anglers aboard you could legally land 300 cod/haddock) so it didn't limit us after June but it did limit us on two trips earlier in the season. On August 1, 2002, the legal size limit on haddock went from 21 inches to 23 inches. This rule cut down on haddock landings. All in all, it probably helped the fish stocks in the smaller sizes but it forced us to work on the bigger fish, a trend that is being recapitulated by fishery management regulations in all the different fisheries for groundfish in New England. This was good for us because we learned more about hunting for the big fish. However, I'm not so sure it helps the stocks in the big picture.

Environmental factors, fishery management trends and commercial fishing pressure made the grounds a much different place last season. We saw the largest deficit in herring schools (bait fish for most fish species we fish for - mid water herring trawlers?) that we have ever seen. It is the only time in my life that I have observed gannets diving for the sub legal cod we were trying to release back to the ocean alive. This phenomenon occurred during both the spring and the fall fishing seasons. Normally, these oceanic birds feed exclusively on herring. Also, the groundfish diet consisted of a much lower percentage of herring. The prohibition on commercial dogfish landings by fishery managers paid off in dividends last season as we saw their numbers increase exponentially. They also stayed around longer than other seasons. This drove the smaller cod off the banks, kept us from taking advantage of the spring and fall runs of fish but gave us more to catch on the half day trips (dogfish again?). Blue sharks were less numerous than we have ever seen them - ever! We found the occasional bluefin tuna, as we have most years, but they were much more nomadic than other years. Normally, these fish find an area and stay there and, inshore, I guess this was the case to some degree. Offshore, it was just the opposite. You never knew when or where you were going to run into a school of bluefin tuna. This was the case on August 13, 2002 when Ken McLaughlin (ME) hooked into a 300 pound bluefin on my watch and fought it for three hours only to lose it right beside the boat. The fish was hooked in the side and would only allow us to get close enough for a good look (about 50 times!). Oh, the sights you see when you don't carry a harpoon!

An increase in overall species size gave our junior anglers a distinct advantage. This was the year of the younger set. Many young anglers landed fish of a size that they never had dreamed of catching before. Nothing brought this home to me more than an afternoon trip on July 3, 2002 hosted by Captain Kenton Geer. He had his father, Ken Geer, aboard on his first deep sea fishing experience where his son was running the show. Ken's largest fish that evening was a 30 pound Maine state trophy cod, the largest groundfish Ken has ever caught in his life. Also landed that evening was a 32 pound cusk by eleven-year-old John Madden, Jr., at that time, the largest cusk that had ever been landed on the Bunny Clark. John wanted and received help from his father, John, Sr., to get the fish to gaff. Unfortunately, this disqualified young John from breaking the state record for that species. Of course, no one at the time ever thought that John, Jr. had such a huge cusk on his line.

Many other records were won and lost last season. Captain Kenton Geer himself, on a marathon trip where I was running the boat, landed the largest cusk I have ever seen and so captured the Maine state cusk record. This cusk was 36 pounds at the time we landed it after spitting up 2 pounds of herring on the surface! The all tackle IGFA ( cusk world record is 35 pounds 14 ounces, a fish caught off the shores of Norway. In order to tie that world record, we would have had to bring the fish right back to the dock (at 7:00 AM) and, even then it was questionable whether the fish would make the size requirement (weight loss) or even if the hook sequence on the line that caught the fish was within the IGFA rules for qualifying a world record. Just before 5:00 PM, the fish was weighed officially on USPS scales at 33 pounds 6.7 ounces. The old Maine state record was 30 pounds 1 ounce caught by Neil Morrill (VT) on the Bunny Clark in July 2, 1988.

Other contributors to the year of the junior angler were fourteen year old Justin Hayes (NY) who, on August 29, 2002, landed a 45 pound cod. Thinking he was hooked on bottom, he passed the rod to two more experienced anglers who told him that he actually had a fish! If not for this, Justin would be sitting on the new IGFA Junior Angler world record. Nine-year-old Allyson Fuehrer (ME) had the same situation with a 9 pound pollock on August 21, 2002 as did my daughter, nine year old Halley Tower, also with a 9 pound pollock on August 6, 2002. Both would have captured the Junior Angler world record in the female Small Fry (ten years old or younger) category. On August 11, 2002 my eight-year-old son, Micah Tower, landed a 17.5 pound pollock, a fish large enough to smash the male IGFA Small Fry world record. Unfortunately, his rod was supported on the rail the whole time and was disqualified for this. However, on November 29, 2002, I took both Halley and Micah out on the Petrel (my winter fishing/lobster boat) and we captured two pollock within the rules of the IGFA to qualify for two potential Junior Angler world records (both male and female) in the Small Fry category. As of this writing, these catches have not been officially approved although I did get a call from the IGFA to tell me that all their paper work was in order. Halley's pollock weighed 12 pounds 12 ounces (5.79 kg) while Micah's weighed 17 pound 3 ounces (7.81 kg).

Two years ago, the state of Maine (to be more specific the credit goes to Bruce Joule of the Department of Marine Resources) started the Junior Angler state records program to recognize achievements for those girls and boys sixteen years old or younger who caught the largest fish of a specific species in the state. Not realizing the full scope of this program, I waited until this year to register four claims from the Bunny Clark, from anglers who previously held (or still do hold) IGFA world records with these same fish. Submitted last fall and accepted as state records were applications for: a 34 pound pollock caught on August 11, 1997 by a (then) 16 year old Andrew Tuttle (GA) for the Junior Angler male category (this fish already exists as the current male IGFA Junior Angler world record), a 41 pound cod caught on August 13, 2001 by a (then) 7 year old Collin Francis Morgan (CT) for the Junior Angler male category (this fish already exists as the current male IGFA Junior Angler world record in the Small Fry category), a 26 pound 8 ounce cod caught on July 9, 2000 by a (then) 16 year old Rebecca Ranta (NH) for the Junior Angler female category (this fish already exists as the current female IGFA Junior Angler world record) and a 38 pound pollock caught on August 14, 1986 by a (then) 15 year old Dawn Hersom (ME) for the Junior Angler female category (this fish was the 50 pound test IGFA women's line class pollock world record for four years until beaten by Linda Paul (ME) off the Bunny Clark with her 46 pound 10.9 ounce pollock caught on October 24, 1990 - also the existing all tackle Maine state record pollock). At this time Willy Goldsmith (MA) is in the process of sending his application in to the state of Maine for induction in the Junior Angler male cod state record. On the July 28, 2002 full day trip Willy, who was fourteen years old at the time, landed the largest groundfish of his life, a 43 pound cod. This fish was caught following the rules and weighed appropriately. If accepted, Willy's fish would take the place of Collin Morgan's 41 pound cod.

As I mentioned in last years guest letter, we have many anglers who have contributed to our tag and release program or just released legal fish back to the ocean alive. This is above and beyond the call of Federal regulation. Some of our regular anglers release groundfish on a steady basis including many large cod. Some of these top anglers who released many legal cod last year include Dave Gray (VT),Bob Nixon (NH), Gil Ranta (NH), Fred Kunz (NH), Eric Pysar (NY), Ken McLaughlin (ME) Willy Goldsmith (ME), Andy Kudera (MD), Sean Devich (NY), J.D. Wilson (MA), Kelly Wilkinson (PA), Dom Bruno (NY), Regis Jauvin (PQ), Leo Wojciehowski (NY), the real Jim Feeney (MA), Phil Wilson (NH) Eric Grove (ME), Captain Kenton Geer (ME), Norman Herrick (MA), Robert Herrick (MA), Paul Revels (NH), Don Johnson (MA), Dave Crosby (MA) Wayne Closi (NY), Don Somers (ME), Al Turner (NY), Barry McGuire (CT), Nathaniel Leachman (NC), the wonderful Aquahtenang (all NH) singer songwriter's crew including Marian "Merv" Murphy, Gardner Murphy, Brian Murphy and Rebecca Hammer, Dick Lyle (NY), Rob Fuehrer (ME), Tara Wilkins (VT), Arnie Buza (NJ), Tim Williams (CT), Dennis Grabauskas (CT), Steve Shugars (ME), Keith Borkowski (CT) and Walt Bohnenberger (NY), plus many whom I can't recall. I feel that these special anglers should be recognized as people who truly love their sport and only take home those fish that they can use for themselves, their friends or their family. I should remind everyone that many of our groundfish stocks are at levels much lower than they should be which has promoted much Federal regulation for commercial and recreational fishermen alike. If more anglers thought like those mentioned above, the recreational angler wouldn't need any regulations. Thank you for your efforts.

As far as tag returns go, all tags returned last season were from cod with the exception of one pollock. This fish was tagged by an angler, Barbara Palmer (MA), during the June 30, 1998 half-day trip. The pollock remained at liberty for 52 months and then was re-caught again by John Franco (MA) during a full day trip on November 2, 2002. When the fish was tagged it had a caliper fork length of 16 inches (1.5 to 2 pounds). When it was caught again it had a fork length of 28 inches and weighed 7 pounds. It was caught in exactly the same place it was tagged! It remains the only pollock that has been tagged and caught again on the Bunny Clark.

Last season most tags were returned from some of the same places we always get them from. Many tags were returned from fish that were tagged in the same exact spot. Others, particularly those fish that were tagged on Jeffrey's Ledge, were recovered from some other place within twenty-five and thirty miles suggesting that these fish traveled along depth contours back and forth on the same major piece of bottom. A small percentage of tags show a relationship between southern Jeffrey's Ledge and Ipswitch Bay, particularly with the spawning cod. A still smaller number were discovered in offshore commercial fishing catches.

Of the offshore Bunny Clark tag returns, the two (of the several) most interesting ones came from cod recovered in Canadian waters. The first I will mention was from a 26.5 inch cod tagged during the Ultra marathon trip of July 20, 1999 by Eric Pysar while fishing Sigsbee Ridge, a series of bumps almost seventy miles east southeast of Perkins Cove. A dragger fishing out of Nova Scotia on April 18, 2002 caught this fish again. No length or weight data was given but the cod was caught five miles from the very eastern tip of Sewell Ridge or 85 miles east of the tagging location in 110 fathoms of water. The second interesting return came from a cod that was tagged by Harold Meise (MA) while fishing in the area on the very northern end of Jeffrey's Ledge. This cod was 22 inches long and weighed 4 pounds when it was released on June 28, 1998. On July 2, 2002, this fish was caught again by a gillnetter out of Nova Scotia who was fishing on the edge of the Northeast Peak section of Georges Bank in 90 fathoms of water. The recovery point is 125 nautical miles from where the fish was tagged four years earlier. The cod had grown to a fork length of 35.5 inches and a weight of 15 pounds in that time period.

As I feel the greatest achievement in angling is the ability of a person to hook and land a trophy fish on their own, I have listed the guests who caught the five largest of each significant species during the 2002-fishing season. Keep in mind that all the represented weights of these fish were taken aboard the Bunny Clark using a registered scale shortly after capture. I feel that this is the fairest comparison between the angler's fish since weight loss is proportional to the amount of time the fish is out of water.





Bob Warner (VT)

Halibut 15

30 X 22


Dennis Pietro (MA)

Lobster 2.5



Richie Hajduchik (NY)

Redfish 3



Dave Howe (RI)

Redfish 3



Joel Clark (NY)

Redfish 3



Vinnie Carnevale (NH)

Redfish 3



Ken McLaughlin (ME)

Redfish 3



Ann Catino (MA))

Redfish 3.25



Steve Jones (VT)

Monkfish 41



Pete Aigner (PA)

Monkfish 29



Bob Johnson (ME)

Monkfish 22



Steve Ferguson (NY)

Monkfish 21



Richie Hajduchik (NY)

Monkfish 17



Matt Dean (NY)

Wolffish 30.5

43 X 24


Jim Lusis (CT)

Wolffish 23

39 X 22


Matthew D. Kuiken (NJ)

Wolffish 23

40 X 24


Leo Wojciehowski (NY)

Wolffish 22.5

38 X 22


Mike Jordan (VT)

Wolffish 21

39.75 X 19


Pat Brady (PA)

Wolffish 21

39 X 23


David Dinsmore (ME)

Pollock 44

47.5 X 30.5


Dave Kimball (NY)

Pollock 42

44.5 X 28


Yuriy Slobodian (NY)

Pollock 36.25

45.5 X 25.5


John Watson (NJ)

Pollock 36

43.75 X 24


Bill Morsehouse (NY)

Pollock 35

44 X 28


John Provoncha (VT)

Pollock 34.5

46.75 X 24


Bob Scalzo (MA)

Pollock 34

46 X 26


Rod Wood (PA)

Pollock 34

47.5 X 25


Tim Williams (CT)

Pollock 33.5

40 X 25


Don Watson (VT)

Pollock 33

44.5 X 25


Dan Lambert (NY)

White Hake 47

49.25 X 36


Walt Zacharek (NY)

White Hake 45.5

46.5 X 31


Bernie Nason (NH)

White Hake 44.75

50 X 32


Zeb Bennett (CT)

White Hake 44

50 X 31


Fred Kunz (NH)

White Hake 43

51 X 28


Steve Selmer (NH)

White Hake 42.5

48 X 30


Fred Kunz (NH)

White Hake 42

51.25 X 32


Mark Amero (ME)

White Hake 41

50 X 31


Tim Williams (CT)

White Hake 40.5

47 X 30.5


Luke Vaillancourt (NH)

White Hake 39

47 X 32


Angelo Magri (MA)

Haddock 11

30 X 18


Sam Garzone (NY)

Haddock 11

28.5 X 20


Bruce Lillie (MA)

Haddock 9.5

30.5 X 16.5


Eugene Herbest (ME)

Haddock 9.5

31.5 X 16.5


Jim Franczak (MO)

Haddock 9.25

29 X 19


Harry Gjertsen (NY)

Haddock 9

28.25 X 18


Adam Woodell (VT)

Haddock 9

29 X 16


Kenton Geer (ME)

Cusk 36

43 X 25


John Madden, Jr. (MA)

Cusk 32

39.75 X 29


Tim Williams (CT)

Cusk 31

41 X 24


Sean Grogan (NY)

Cusk 30.25

40 X 24


Steve King (NH)

Cusk 28

38 X 28


Justin Boisvert (ME)

Cusk 28

42.5 X 23


John Yurko (CT)

Cusk 27

42 X 24


Mark Simpson (NH)

Cusk 26.5

39 X 25


Glenn Babcock (NY)

Cusk 26

38 X 28


Louis Bellaud (NH)

Cusk 25.5

38.5 X 25


Tom Suleski (NY)

Cusk 25.5

39 X 23


Bob Scalzo (MA)

Cod 63

53.5 X 34


Eric Abrams (NH)

Cod 56

53.5 X 38


Keith Borkowski (CT)

Cod 53

54 X 30


Nick Guerra (MA)

Cod 51

48.5 X 34


Earl Hansen (NH)

Cod 51

53 X 32


Dan Lambert (NY)

Cod 49

48 X 32


Arnie Buza (NJ)

Cod 49

48 X 31


Bernie Nason (NH)

Cod 48

49 X 25


Mike Hoyt (NY)

Cod 48

49.25 X 29


Luke Vaillancourt (NH)

Cod 48

48.5 X 31


Of the fish just listed above, almost all represent the largest of that species that the angler mentioned has ever caught. Above and beyond that, some of these fish have special significance. Bob Scalzo's 63 pound cod is the largest cod that has been hauled aboard the Bunny Clark since Emile Gallant (ME) landed his 65 pound cod during the 1993 season and Al Hanson (MA) caught his 63 pounder the same year. The top three cusk, Captain Kenton's 36 pounder, John Madden, Jr.'s 32 pounder and Tim Williams' 31 pounder, are the three largest cusk that have ever been caught on the Bunny Clark. The fifth largest Bunny Clark cusk ever was the 30.25 caught by Sean Grogan (NY). He was eleven years old when he made the catch on August 7, 2002!

All our top five (and many below those) largest white hake were the largest hake we have seen since Robert Jackson (MA) landed his 47.5 pounder during the 1991 season and Gordon Ellsworth, Jr. (NY) caught his 44 pound hake the same year. Since that year, there hasn't been a hake larger than the late Richard Atherton's (NH) 35 pounder caught in 1995 or the other 35 pounder caught by Dan Pimental (MA) during the 2001 Bunny Clark fishing season.

The last time there was a halibut landed over 15 pounds was during the 1992 fishing season when Dave Wilmarth (PA) caught two halibut on the same trip, one of 4 pounds and another of 21 pounds caught a couple of hours apart!

Steve Jones' monkfish (goosefish) is the largest of that species caught since Nancy Regimbald (VT) established the new IGFA all tackle world record with a fish of 53 pounds (official-registered-IGFA-on-land-weight is 49 pounds 12 ounces) off the Bunny Clark during a half-day trip in 1991. Steve's fish also duplicates the landing by Dan LaRue (NH) of another 41 pound monkfish caught during the 1989 Bunny Clark season. Both anglers tie for the second largest monkfish that has ever been caught aboard the Bunny Clark.

David Dinsmore's 44 pound pollock is the largest pollock caught on the Bunny Clark since Larry Smith (NH) landed a 45 pounder during the 1992 fishing season. Matt Dean's 30.5 pound wolffish is the third largest wolffish that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark.

It has been many years since we have seen so many large redfish. We never used to keep track of the really big redfish in the early days of the Bunny Clark so I can't make a comparison here but there was a year that we caught some really big ones. I recall one that was over 5 pounds.

Many anglers scored their best days and, on certain trips, we had so many big fish that it was physically impossible to take pictures of all the trophies without seriously sacrificing fishing time. We also had some angler highlights that should be mentioned before I go to the next big topic.

Mike Hoyt (NY) landed the first cod of his life last year, a 48 pound Maine state trophy! Rod Wood (PA) caught his largest pollock ever last season. It weighed 34 pounds but had a caliper fork length of 47.5 inches! We have caught pollock up to 46 pounds (world class size) that weren't as long! Dave Gray (VT), an excellent angler and a 50 year veteran of cod fishing, landed the largest cod he has ever caught, a fish weighing 44.5 pounds. Mike Nachaczewski (VT), one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet, had been going with me for years but had never landed a big fish worth talking about. This season he got the fish he long deserved, a Maine state trophy cod that weighed 40.5 pounds, the largest groundfish of his life. During the 2001 season, Mike "The Human Trawler" Rygiel (MA) landed the largest cod of his groundfishing career. Last season, he beat his best on three consecutive trips! Tim Williams, who typically fishes with us for two straight weeks in the fall, had such a good period that, had it been any other season, the points achieved from his many successes would have made him FY (Fisherman of the Year). I might have had to dedicate a whole newsletter to him! On one trip this fall he landed his career largest fish in three different species: a 33.5 pound pollock, a 31 pound cusk and a 31 pound white hake! During a subsequent trip, he beat his biggest hake by almost 10 pounds with a 40.5 pounder! Dr. Cliff Kruger (MA) sidled up to me at the wheel while we were headed out to our first fishing spot of the day to tell me that in the "last twelve years since I have been going out with you, I have never caught a white hake". The first fish on the boat that day was a 31 pound Maine state trophy hake caught by Cliff! I was taking pictures of Pete Aigner's (PA) 29 pound monkfish. At the time it was the largest monkfish that had been caught on the Bunny Clark in years. Just as I snapped the last shot, Steve Jones hauled his 41 pound monkfish over rail, deflating a once much happier Pete Aigner and taking away the notoriety he would have had. To add insult to injury, when the pictures of Steve's monkfish came out, Renée sent the photos to Pete because I didn't put a description of Steve with the pictures. Pete sent the photo's back accusing me of "trying to play some joke" on him. I wish I had thought of it first!

Before I end this Guestletter, I want to cite those anglers and experiences of note that deserve an honorable mention for their uniqueness and/or fishing prowess during the 2002 Bunny Clark fishing season. I realize that this is a value judgment on my part but I believe that my conclusions are recognized as a popular opinion among my crew and fishing guests and are based on many fishing trips. These special anglers and incidents are as follows:

Fisherman of the Year (FY-'02): Fred Kunz wins this award for the sixth time in the last twelve seasons. (His picture appears left taken during the early fall of 2002 holding his first big white hake weighing 42 pounds, the first of many to come and his largest hake ever at the time.) The other five seasons included 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999 & 2001. No one has ever won it more than once except Fred. As most of you know by now, the FY award is based on a point system that relates to specific achievements during a trip and during the year. Each achievement is worth a set of points. The individual with the most points at the end of the season wins. In order to compete in this category, you have to have paid for and completed at least 10 different trips on the Bunny Clark. I have had many excellent anglers who fish with us on a regular basis every season, any one of whom has the potential to become the FY. Fred has always been one of my top regular anglers. He won the award last season mainly for his ability to be high hook on every trip he attended and his large number of fish over 20 pounds. In addition, a few anglers did better in specific categories than Fred. However, none did as well in all the categories combined. On top of this, Fred broke ground with a new first, the most legal haddock caught on a jig with an actual count of 19 fish! Mike Horwitz (ME) who, in 1995, landed 18 legal haddock on a jig held the previous record. Fred's record becomes even more significant when one understands that the legal size limit was two inches shorter in 1995. Another outstanding achievement of his was the successful landing of the three largest hake of his life this season, which were also hake of world-class size and Maine state trophy fish. These included fish of 39 pounds, 42 pounds and 43 pounds, all caught with a jig (artificial lure)! Tim Williams came in second while fourteen-year-old Willy Goldsmith (MA) came in a close third and Bob Nixon (NH) came in a very close fourth. Incidentally, Captain Kenton Geer, although not in the game, garnered enough points last season to have put him in second place right behind Fred!

Female Angler of The Year: Tara Wilkins (VT) wins this award for the second time in two years. She had never sailed on the Bunny Clark until the 2001 season. Very competitive, she was high hook on almost every trip she attended and frequently landed the largest fish of the trip. Of the many trophy fish she caught, two were the largest of each species she has ever caught. One was a cusk that weighed 19 pounds and the other was her largest cod weighing 37.5 pounds. She also landed a cod almost as large at 36.5 pounds! She stopped fishing with us just before we started seeing the trophy hake show up on the bank.

Best Bait Fisherman: For the last couple of years, there have been two anglers whom I have always wanted to give this award to but there was always someone slightly more successful. This year there was no one in the way so let me be the first to congratulate Al Daniels (NY) and George Pharaoh (NY) who certainly earned this award for last season's achievements and bait fishing prowess. Not only were they successful in quantity and size, I don't believe as many fish were landed on bait per unit of effort by any other angler. Al's two best fish were a 31 pound pollock and a 36 pound white hake, both Maine state trophies. George's two best fish were a 37 pound cod and a 29.5 pound white hake, also both Maine state trophy fish. Both did very well on the haddock last season, as one would expect.

Most Aces: For those who don't know, an angler scores an ace when he or she lands the three largest fish (or more) during a trip. There were three aces last season. Gardiner Johnson, the pride of Maine, was the first of the season to do so, on July 10, 2002. His three fish included a 16 pound cod, an 11 pound pollock and a 10 pound pollock. Our newest young fishing prodigy, Willy Goldsmith (MA), caught the other two aces. On July 26, 2002, Willy landed a triple ace (the five largest fish of the trip) during an afternoon half-day trip. These fish included a 12 pound cod, an 11 pound cod, a 10 pound cod, a 9.5 pound cod and a 9 pound cod. No one landed a bigger fish that evening. On an August 26, 2002 afternoon trip, he caught a 14 pound cod, an 11.5 pound cod and a 9 pound cod, the three largest fish of the trip.

Most Trophies: Bob Nixon (NH) landed the most trophies last season with a total count of 53 fish! Some of his better fish included a 31 pound cod, a 36 pound cod, a 7.2 pound haddock, a 15.5 pound cusk and twelve white hake from 28.5 pounds to 37 pounds! Incidentally, on December 20, 2002, aboard my lobster boat (the Petrel), he landed a few more trophies including the largest cod of his life weighing 44 pounds! Fred Kunz and Captain Kenton Geer tied for the second most trophies with a count of 51 fish each. Fred's largest fish included ten cod from 28.25 pounds to 40.5 pounds and nineteen white hake larger than his career best hake of 21.5 pounds! He also landed two trophy haddock and a 29 pound pollock. Incidentally, Fred also landed a few trophies on the Dec. 20, 2002 Petrel trip including his largest cusk of the season at 14 pounds. Tim Williams (CT) came in third with 50 trophy fish including five cod from 30 to 37 pounds, twenty white hake from 25 to 40.5 pounds, a 31 pound cusk and a 33.5 pound pollock. Tim was also on the above-mentioned Petrel trip with a catch of a few cod trophies including a 30 pound cod.

Most Trophy Fish During A Trip: Tim Williams led the pack in this category with a total count of fifteen trophy fish caught during a day trip. Bob Nixon was second with a count of fourteen fish, also on a day trip. Fred Kunz was third with a count of twelve, also on a day trip.

Most Pools (largest fish of the trip): Willy Goldsmith landed the most pool fish with a total count of seven.

Hard Luck: Marc Bellaud (NH), after catching some nice sized cod during the early part of a spring marathon trip, attempted to take another cast and threw his rod and reel (his own equipment) over the side! I tried to retrieve it without success. There you go, Don Robinson. What was it that you called the other rod of mine you found and didn't return - the "Black Pariah"? Or, was that a reference to yourself? - During the fall of 1998, Bruce Murray (VT) chartered the Bunny Clark. That trip was delayed (on the trip to the fishing grounds) for the repair of a faulty oil filter and then stopped altogether when the filter blew on the ride home. Since there were no spare filters aboard they sat dead in the water while I came out in the Petrel (with my new deck hand, Ian Keniston) to get them going again. This year, during the late summer, Bruce chartered the boat again. They had fished for two hours and were headed to another spot when the damper plate let go in the transmission! Again, dead in the water, I had to go out with Petrel, again, to tow the Bunny Clark back in. Most of the same individuals who were aboard during the trip in 1998 were also aboard on this trip! It was the only breakdown of the season! - Rick Sullivan (ME), who has been an excellent regular angler with us since the Bunny Clark's inception, missed his annual spring trips because of an accident involving his shoulder. His shoulder had healed enough to complete one fall trip. However, during that trip, fate conspired against him and he never landed a single fish even though there were many fish landed that day including Greg Veprek's (MA) twin 25 pound hake and Keith Borkowski's 53 pound cod! It is the first time that Rick has ever been skunked for the whole year!

Most Improved Angler: The most improved angler for the 2002 Bunny Clark fishing season had to be Dave LeFevre (FL). Dave has fished with us for many years but never has he had the success he enjoyed last season. Not only did he land some of the largest fish of his life including a 41 pound cod, a 30 pound white hake, a 30.5 pound pollock and a 13 pound trophy cusk, he landed many more trophies, was high hook a large percentage of the time and, with the points he racked up, came in sixth place for Fisherman of the Year behind Ken McLaughlin (ME)! Could it have been the positive influence of his dory mate, Fred Kunz? Doubtful! I think he did it on his own.

Best Team: Without a doubt, the best team of the year was the duo of Steve Bill (ME) and Bernie Nason (NH). Never have they fished on the Bunny Clark so many times in one year and never have they been so successful on so many trips. It seemed like one or the other (or both) always had one of the biggest fish for the trip. Bernie was crowned the "Cod King" on June 7th when he landed the largest cod of his life and the Bunny Clark's largest cod of the season at that time, a 48 pounder. This fish wasn't beaten until September 20th when Dan Lambert (NY) caught a 49 pounder! Late in October, Bernie went on to catch the third largest hake of the season at 44.75 pounds! Steve also had some personal bests including a 40 pound cod, a 24 pound cusk, a 30.5 pound hake and a 32 pound pollock - to name just a few! Reminds me of some of the exploits of the great Don Lord (NH), someone Bernie knows quite well, actually.

Largest Fish Tagged and Released: On September 5, 2002, Fred Kunz put a 48.5-inch long 37 pound cod back in the water to swim away, the largest fish to be tagged and released from the Bunny Clark last season. Bob Nixon (NH) & Garrett Keniston (ME) tied for second place. Each tagged cod of 29 pounds at different dates during the season. Nathaniel Leachman (NC) landed a 26 pound cod which he tagged and released on June 6, 2002, the third largest. Incidentally, many large fish were released without tagging because we just didn't have time to work the deck and tag fish as well without compromising the fish's health. Some very large cod were released under these situations including a 40 pound cod by Sean Devich, the largest released cod of the season, a 38.5 pound cod by Don Johnson, a 37 pound cod by Tim Williams, a 31 pound cod by Dave LeFevre and many others too numerous to mention here.

Most Fish Released: Regis Jauvin (NH/PQ) released more legal fish (mostly cod) of any angler during the season. He also released more on one trip than most anglers caught on many trips.

Most Entertaining: Regis Jauvin is probably the most fun to have aboard. Everyone seems to have a better time when he is there and all of us look forward to seeing him. Although almost everyone has fun while fishing, with Regis, you always know that he is having fun and the best part is that it is almost always contagious! I've learned that when Regis is quiet, you (as a captain) are doing something wrong!

Best Luck: Shawn Sullivan (NH) seemed to have the best luck of the season, in my opinion. Fishing exclusively on our day trips, even if the fishing was slow, Shawn was almost always high hook. During one late spring trip he was the fisherman of the day with the most legal fish and the largest fish of the day, a 25.5 pound cod, his largest fish in two seasons. Of the marathon men, either Don Johnson or Mike Rygiel had the best luck, doing well in size and number whether the trip was a fair one or a great one!

Most Unusual Catch: During a marathon trip in the spring, Steve Murphy (MA) landed a larger fish than Chuck Porter (ME), the first time this has happened in almost twenty years or, maybe, ever! Later, on a day trip during the summer, Keith Borkowski (CT) fought what he thought was a big fish for twenty minutes only to find that it was an old car tire. For the last ten minutes everyone else had reeled up and were looking over the side in excited anticipation. Sorry, boys!

In Passing: Ralph DeGeorgia (NY) died at the beginning of 2002 after seeing a doctor about a pain in his shoulder. He was one of my best regular anglers and certainly one I will remember until my time is up. We had some wonderful fishing trips together and I know he appreciated everything I did for him. I will miss him very much.

There are three other deaths, which denote the end of an era in my party boat world. All were party boat captains out of Maine and many of you who now go out with me and used to fish with them would probably appreciate this knowledge. Jack Miller ran a party boat called the Sea Hawk out of Ogunquit. He was a good friend and helped me tremendously when I first got into the business in 1977. He died of cancer during the early fall. He was only a couple of years older than me. Bob Boutet was running a six-pack charter boat out of Ogunquit, the Ruth Bee, when I started the same type of business. A mentor to me, I don't think anyone ever had a bad day with Bob. We fished side by side until he gave the business up in the mid 80s, a couple of years after I got the Bunny Clark. He died in his home this fall of congestive heart failure at the age of eighty-six. His mind was as sharp as a tack until the very end. Stuart Libby ran a six-pack boat out of York Harbor, York, Maine when I first had the Bunny Clark, after many successful years as a commercial fisherman. Most of you probably know him from the party boat, the EZ, owned by Lawrence Grant (who also passed away - a couple of years ago) or the Finestkind scenic tours out of Ogunquit. Stuart died from complications with a kidney problem early last winter. He was a year older than I was. These guys meant a great deal to me and they represent the fishery and the attitude toward the fishery that made me want to continue on in this industry. Times were so much simpler then but these men made it so wonderful for us, as contemporaries or passengers. I am very sorry to know that, at the very least, I won't be able to have a cup of coffee with any one of them ever again.

Quote of the Year: "If you have any reservations [on the Bunny Clark], do yourself a favor and cancel them. Go somewhere else; don't waste your money". A quote from first timer, Bob Fee (NH), off the New England Sportsman chat page after a particularly rough (weather) trip on the Bunny Clark where Captain Kenton took a chance to get big fish only to find mostly sub-legal fish instead. Even though no one complained to Kenton during the trip, Kenton was depressed to think that he let his anglers down and expressed as much to me. He was even more upset a couple of days later when he saw this on the Internet! I thought everything was always perfect on the Bunny Clark, didn't you? On Kenton's next trip he recorded, what was to be, the best day trip of the season for numbers of legal fish and the first time that another captain, while running the Bunny Clark, has had a better day trip (during the season) than me. Bill Allen (NH), an excellent angler who always tells it like it is - even when it's bad, told me that it was the best deep sea fishing trip he had ever been on. Sorry, Mr. Fee, had I known, I would have suggested you go on this trip. After all, Captain Kenton was only a couple of miles from the spot where he took you! Oh, well, that certainly is fishing!

Best Attitude: Leo Godin (NY).

Most of a Species: Greg Veprek (MA) landed the most squirrel hake of any individual on any single trip of the season last year, while on a marathon trip. A dubious honor, this self proclaimed "Ling King" waited all year for the one trip to make his mark!

Unexplained Phenomena. Who is that individual on the Fishing Update section of the Bunny Clark website? - Why is it that all of the really big fish that Dennis Grabauskas (CT) catches disappear into the abyss? Like the huge cod a few years ago for want of a swivel on a split ring, the halibut that came up on the wrong side of the boat or the largest hake of the 2002 fishing season that just floated away for want of a gaff? - Kenton! For gosh sakes, who did put those skiffs right in the way? And did you hear the one about the whale cod with the gold chain and wristwatch? By the way, when you are through with that Bunny Clark trip log, could I have it back? I would like to have it for my records. Thanks in advance! - What demon possessed Greg Stine (VT) and made him try to walk to the golf course from Perkins Parking Lot? Was it the same demon that made Fred Kunz fish with bait on that fateful April 19th marathon trip? Or were there separate spirits including one that made Eric Abrams (NH) and his father and Tom and Leon Hadley (NH) miss the boat before those marathon trips? - Who could have foreseen that Keith Borkowski would buy the only reel manufactured in the United States where the bridge plate screws fall out with every fishing trip? - Does anybody know who took Richard Osborne's (NH) fillets from that 13.5 pound wolffish? At least, you got a picture of the fish. Right? - Why would Angelo Magri make me take a picture of his 8 pound Maine state trophy haddock when he knew he was going to get an 11 pound haddock (the biggest of the season) two minutes later? - I would like to know how Jack Birmingham (FL) can make a rod that will only catch big fish and deny an angler from catching the smaller better eating cod? You know, just because Arnie Buza (NJ) caught the largest cod of his life (a fish weighing 49 pounds!) with this rod last season, it doesn't mean the rod is perfect! - And what's with all the health problems preventing Tim Rider from a day on the Bunny Clark? I think we should all pitch in and get him a gift certificate to that spa on the border there! - And what will it be, Ian, a gold or a silver fork? You're done, even if I did make that prediction a year early and lose fifty bucks!

Our shore side crew, those individuals behind the scenes who answer the phone, keep the books, take reservations and basically run the show while we are fishing, was one of the best assets of Bunny Clark Deep Sea Fishing last year (as they are every year). Renée Stevens, our year round, number one asset, behind the scenes and on the phone person, succeeded in making the business run like a well oiled machine. An expert on the computer and remembering what to do when I didn't, she was a tremendous help to our fishing guests and me. Meghan Masi was back with us again for the summer months, I am very happy to say. A very successful teacher in the winter months, she was the sweetest telephone voice and the best reservationist. We hope to see her this summer. Stacey Shore, made her debut as a reservationist with us last summer. A daughter of a good friend of mine whom I rarely see since he started his family down south, Stacey was excellent with people and excellent with us. We are looking forward to having her back this season. Seemingly shy and demure, Lisa Robichaud also made her debut. She did a great job for us last season and was not as shy as she seemed. We hope she will be returning. Jamie Bean, now in college in Massachusetts, did a superior job with us and continues to do so as I write. Versatile and with a wonderful personality, she was a great reservationist and a great help during the off-season when the business moves up to the hill. And last, but not least, I have to mention my wife Debbie, who is always the cement that holds all this together. I said this same thing in last years letter (and the guestletter before that) but I reiterate here again. Without her, I just couldn't continue with the business as it is today. Her advice is always on the mark and her support is something that just can't truly be appreciated unless you are in my position. I am so grateful to have these individuals aboard that you can't know. They are the very fabric of the Bunny Clark.

In closing, I want to thank you all, the anglers, for supporting us during another very successful year of fishing on the Bunny Clark! Of course, without you we could not do this and we depend on your patronage and this support (mentally and physically) to keep us on the right track - striving to be the best deep sea fishing business in New England. My only regret is that I can't remember all of you by name or tell of all the wonderful contributions you all have brought to my business. I will just have to leave you here with a heart felt Thank You and hope to see you all again this season!

Best Fishes,

Tim Tower

Our First Cod of the 2002 Fishing Season

Paul Griffin (CT) can be seen above holding the first legal cod caught on the Bunny Clark during the 2002 fishing season. The picture was taken on April 1, 2002. It was raining that day but the weather was milder and the ocean was calmer than normal. Paul is known for his fishing prowess and cheap cigars. Eat your heart out, Bryan Kelly!

If you want to send me e-mail, the current address is Most individuals have better luck with this address on their own e-mail softwear programs.

With this web site in general, I hope to keep you current on all of the fishing particulars on the Bunny Clark and include updated information on fishery management decisions that could potentially affect us. For a current report go to the Fishing Update section from the link located on the index page of this web site. Thanks!

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