The 2004 Bunny Clark Guestletter

Tim Tower's annual primer on the year 2003 Bunny Clark fishing season

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

January 15, 2004

Dear Guests:

So ends the second decade of fishing trips on the Bunny Clark and the start of my twenty-first guestletter. It seems like it all began yesterday. We have had a lot of ups and a few downs but we are still here and, I believe, better than ever.

[The image on the left is a shot of Fran Murphy (MA) holding his 42.5 pound cod. The picture was taken while on the October 14, 2003 offshore marathon trip. This is Fran's second largest cod ever. His largest cod is a 43 pounder, caught on the Bunny Clark offshore marathon trip of October 3, 2003!]

Last season was like no other. After a colder than normal start (we saw snow every day except one for the first ten days of the season) and after the coldest winter of my lifetime, we broke out into the calmest season of them all. We had less wind on average than any previous season. The first half of the season gave us more unsettled weather than normal. This cloudy weather and cold winter kept the ocean water temperature lower and gave us good fishing much further into the season than expected. The unsettled first part kept the fish biting every day with some exceptions right into the heat of the summer and beyond. After two rainy foggy calm weeks in August, the weather got nice and stayed nice right until the end of the season. Temperatures were higher on average and the wind was much less than normal for this time period. The fall turned out to be our calmest fall ever. We only had to cancel six days for bad weather this year and three of those days were during the first week of the season, a new record! We had no cancellations due to engine problems.

We had our third best season for gross poundage landed last season, a tie with the 1991 fishing season. However, it was our third worst year for numbers of legal fish. This was partly because of this season's size limit restrictions and partly because the average fish size was larger than we have ever seen. We had our best year for big cod since the early 1980s. We had our second best white hake year (2002 was better) since 1986. Haddock landings came in fourth (There were virtually no haddock during a season before 1995). April and May gave us as many haddock as the same months during our best previous years but we had below normal haddock landings for the second part of the season. It was a good season for pollock but we landed less pollock of 20 pounds or greater than any previous season. It was a normal season for wolffish numbers but the average size followed the cod, they were larger. We had one of our best years for big cusk.

The improvements for last season, as you might remember, centered on our rods and reels. We eliminated the Newell reels from our arsenal of jigging sticks and replaced them with a modified Penn 113H. The difference between these reels and the stock version was the added support bearing for the bridge sleeve (Thank you, Bob Nixon from Nixon Machine) which allowed us to use a bigger handle for more cranking power. We experimented with different spool bearings, Accurate Power Knobs and different gear ratios (higher or lower line retrieve). We spooled them with Izorline's eighty-pound test Spectra line and put them on our Merv series jigs sticks. I believe we achieved in producing a jig fishing system that was more user friendly, more competitive and easier to fish at any depth than anything that is out there. When we added all this to our previously existing graphite jig sticks, Pro Gear reels and various mono and braided lines, we were prepared for anything. The major difference: we hooked more big fish and lost fewer big fish than any season before it. As most of you know, the rental fee for this equipment is included in the price of a ticket.

We have refined our fishing equipment for the upcoming fishing season. With one full year of reel rebuilding under his belt, Ian Keniston, my number one deck hand, is standardizing the reels for the upcoming season with all the best, gears, bearings and handles along with the modifications we have incorporated in them already. We are having new Merv sticks made for this season as well. I plan to showcase a new jig stick this season produced by Saco Bay Tackle Company in Saco, Maine - the builders of the original Merv series sticks.

The engine got us through another fishing season without a single problem. That is, without a single problem that kept us from leaving the dock. We did have an external coolant leak during the season, its origin discovered from a sheared head bolt a few days after our last trip. Skip Dunning from New England DDA (Power Products) in Portland, Maine had been called to solve this problem. After we had the heads off the engine, Skip discovered that the number one cylinder liner was scored. I made the decision then to rebuild the engine including all the external parts (turbo, oil cooler, injectors, heat exchanger, alternators, starter, etc.) and internal parts that hadn't been changed in the previous rebuild (main bearings, etc.). Except for re-torquing the heads, the engine should be just like new and ready to go for this season.

At the beginning of last season, I installed a 2000 watt Furuno sounding machine, the FCV 1100L (purchased from Voyager Marine, Essex, Massachusetts - the best place in the world to get electronics). This is a state of the art color fish finding machine with twice the power of my primary machine. It took two days for it to become the primary machine. Not only is the resolution and discrimination superior, the power allows us to observe fish at any depth.

During the foggiest part of the summer, I lost my secondary radar only to have the primary radar break down only two weeks later! With the invaluable help of David Pease and Vic Togliatti, a brand new 24 mile Furuno (closed array) radar and a new 36 mile (open array) Furuno radar were installed in just one night. Both radars are much more sensitive than the previous models.

My number one deck hand, Ian Keniston, will be back again this season. This will be his sixth season with me along with a previous fourteen years on the Indian II, a very successful party fishing boat out of Portland, Maine. As I complete this guestletter, Ian is lobstering/commercial jig fishing with me on the Petrel as well as rebuilding all the Bunny Clark reels and doing all the cosmetic work with Satch McMahon (Satch & Sons fishing out of Wells Harbor, Wells, Maine) on the Bunny Clark. Ian is my right hand and I would be lost without him.

My primary captain, Kenton Geer, turned twenty-two at the end of last season - one of two of the youngest party boat captains in New England. With a year under his belt as the Bunny Clark's primary captain the year before and the first week missed due to a viral infection, he was more ready than ever to start again. He did a much better job too. Some of his accomplishments included scoring a Bunny Clark record four hundred and thirty four individual haddock (along with other fish) during an eight-hour day trip at the end of April with less than four hours of fishing time for a total of twenty-four anglers. Some of the largest fish of the season including the largest wolffish, the largest cod, the largest redfish, the largest monkfish and the largest haddock were caught during his watch. He enjoyed several unique experiences including one during an afternoon half-day trip on June 8, when a porbeagle shark (mako family) exploded out of the water underneath a gull, killing it in the process. The shark then proceeded to nose the bird around for a while before taking it all down in one bite and disappearing beneath the surface never to be seen again. I am happy to say that Captain Kenton will be returning again this season.

Anthony Leotta was our new mate last season. He was a quick study. With only a week and a half under his belt, he was able to take Ian Keniston's place and work as a regular hand. He had an easy way about him that I enjoyed very much. He was well liked by my anglers and an excellent boat handler. Jared Keniston, back from a year overseas with the Marines, will be taking Anthony's place. Jared has worked for other party fishing vessels as a deck hand and has fished on the Bunny Clark for years. He is an excellent fisherman, very good with people and has a lot of common sense around boats. As an added benefit, he is a Keniston. He was supposed to work last year until he got called to duty. His daughter was born while he was completing his tour of duty.

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. This guestletter resides on this web site along with some of my previous guestletters. 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 on an equal basis. 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 U. S. Postal Service.

Our groundfish tagging program has slowed down over the last two seasons mainly because of an increase in workload. However, the program isn't dead. We received two interesting tags returns last season. The most interesting tag return came from Shelbourne, Nova Scotia where our only halibut tag was recovered. On July 29, 2002, Captain Kenton tagged a 15 pound halibut on the northern end of Jeffery's Ledge (against my better judgment - we had never received a return from any tagged halibut before). It had been caught by Bob Warner (VT) initially but wasn't of legal length for him to keep - a picture of Bob and this fish appears in the 2003 guestletter. The halibut had a caliper fork length of 30 inches. The fish was caught again by a Canadian boat, the Bug, twenty miles south of Cape Sable Island off the tip of Nova Scotia or two hundred and five miles from the location where it was tagged almost exactly a year later, August 1, 2003! The fish had grown in length by three inches and weighed 25 pounds at the time of capture.

Another of our tagged fish, a cod this time, was recovered from a dragger, the Lisa Ann II out of Newburyport, Massachusetts owned and operated by Captain Jim Ford. Tim Rider, the number one deck hand, found the tag and reported it to me. Tim was working for me as a deck hand the day this fish was tagged on May 8, 2001! Bob Nixon (NH) initially caught the fish and allowed me to let the fish go back alive with the tag. The fish measured 30 inches and weighed 9 pounds when it was released. When Tim found the fish on October 14, 2003, it measured 36 inches and was approximately 16 pounds. It was caught thirty-five miles to the southwest from where it was originally tagged.

The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record program and the Maine state saltwater angler record program was active aboard the Bunny Clark again last year. We had several near hits and two IGFA Junior Angler world record fish taken. Some of our near hits included Jim Mailea's (MA) 49 pound white hake caught on November 3, 2003, the largest hake we have seen aboard the Bunny Clark since October 26, 1986 when John Audet (ME) landed one of 51 pounds. After just a few hours out of water, registered weight of John's hake on land was 46 pounds 4 ounces and became the IGFA all tackle world record. This world record still stands today. I didn't believe that Jim's fish had a shot as it was caught at sunrise and would have been weighed at least twelve hours later. By then it would have lost too much weigh to qualify. Another near hit was nine year old Ryan Keniston's (Ian's son) catch on September 20, 2003 of a 20.25 pound pollock and a 27 pound white hake. The pollock might have eclipsed the existing IGFA Junior Angler world record in the Small Fry category (males and females eleven years old or younger) now held by my nine year old son, Micah, with a pollock of 17 pounds 3 ounces. The hake would have become the new state record in the Junior Angler program (males and females through sixteen years of age). That category is now vacant as the state (Maine's Department of Marine Resources, the recreational fishing division under department head, Bruce Joule) only initiated the Junior Angler Program in 2000 and no one has submitted a record application for that species as of this writing.

Of the two Junior Angler world record (males and females eleven through sixteen years) applications that were submitted, both became world records late in the 2003 fishing season. On May 26, 2003, fourteen year old Scott Mrazik (ME) landed a 43 pound cod to tie the existing Junior Angler world record. The IGFA issued a certificate to Scott indicating as much. On June 5, 2003, fifteen year old Willy Goldsmith (MA) beat Scott's fish with a 46 pound 1.9 ounce cod and captured the Junior Angler world record. Captain Kenton hosted both trips with Anthony Leotta as the first mate for Scott's fish and Ian Keniston as the first mate for Willy's fish. Willy is the current IGFA Junior Angler world record holder for the Atlantic cod as of this writing. Although the state records committee doesn't meet until late January of 2004, the results of this meeting will certainly award Scott Mrazik for taking the Junior Angler state record first with Willy Goldsmith as the current Junior Angler state record holder. As of this writing, the current Maine State Junior Angler record holder is seven year old Collin Francis Morgan (CT) who caught a 41 pound cod aboard the Bunny Clark on August 13, 2001.

You can check out all our current and past world and state records by accessing the records link at or by going directly to

Last year we took another hit from the Federal government with the ten cod/haddock bag limit and minimum size requirement of twenty-three inches for a legal haddock. The bag limit went into effect during 2002 but was initiated late enough in the season to have much less of an impact on us during that year. Last year, we followed these new rules from the beginning when our largest run of smaller legal cod and our most haddock are caught. We worked around this rule but it was tough. Then the National Marine Fisheries Service lifted the haddock trip limit on commercial fishing vessels that, I might add, also have a minimum size restriction of 19 inches on haddock. There was such a push from the recreational fishing sector after this, including a wonderful letter written by ten year old Allyson Fuehrer (ME), that the Regional Director of NMFS eliminated the bag limit on haddock and decreased the minimum size requirement to twenty-one inches (on haddock) by August 1, 2003. This helped us a great deal. To start the 2004 fishing season we will have a bag limit of ten legal cod per person with an unlimited bag on haddock and a minimum size requirement on the haddock of twenty-one inches. Cod will remain with a legal minimum size requirement of twenty-three inches, which is good. I am a strong supporter of conservation and I try to push the release of unharmed unwanted legal fish and also push the tag and release program (anybody's). I also believe in a strong recreational fishing industry that allows the resource to continue and prosper. Party/Charter fishing is one of the best ways to get our children into the fishery. The fishery needs to generate interest to insure its survival in the future.

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 or six largest of each significant species during the 2003 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.





Steve Jones (VT)

Halibut 12+


Mark Amero (ME)

Mako Shark 18



Jim Destefano (MO)

Wrymouth 5+


Steve Shugars (ME)

Wrymouth 5


David Allen (MI)

Mackerel 2

18 X 8


Allan Plumb (NH)

Redfish 3

18 X 12


Aaron Lyle (PA)

Redfish 3

19 X 14


Bruce MacDonald (MA)

Redfish 2.9

17.5 X 13


Al Thibeault (MA)

Redfish 2.75

15.75 X 14


Brad Nyhan (NH))

Redfish 2.75



Tyson Alvanos (NH)

Monkfish 27



Will Perdieu (MA)

Monkfish 22



Ralph Chase (MA)

Monkfish 20.75



Steve Edelstein (MA)

Monkfish 16



Kenton Geer (ME/HI)

Monkfish 16



Keith Borkowski (CT)

Monkfish 16



Thomas Hadley (NH)

Wolffish 31

41.5 X 29


Dan Merrow (NH)

Wolffish 30.25

43.5 X 26


Dick Lyle (NY)

Wolffish 28.5

42 X 26


Jim Maggiore (NH)

Wolffish 22

40 X 22


Shawn Sullivan (NH)

Wolffish 19.5

36 X 26


Dom Bruno (NY)

Pollock 31

41.5 X 24


Tom Campbell (PA)

Pollock 29

40.5 X 23


Dave LeFevre (FL)

Pollock 28.5



Kenton Geer (ME/HI)

Pollock 28.5

42.75 X 22


Zack/Don Polich (MA)

Pollock 28

40 X 26


Jim Mailea (MA)

White Hake 49

52 X 34


Leo Godin (NY)

White Hake 43.5

48 X 35


Charlie Coleman (ME)

White Hake 42

45.5 X 30.5


Dave LeFevre (FL)

White Hake 40.5

49.75 X 36


Regis Jauvin (NH)

White Hake 38

44.5 X 31


Bob Gagnon (NH)

Haddock 11

31 X 20


Tim Jones (NY)

Haddock 11

31 X 20.5


Steve Spencer (CT)

Haddock 9.5

30.75 X 16


Al Daniels (NY)

Haddock 9

28 X 18


Sean Kirby (ME)

Haddock 9

31 X 18


Mike "The Human Trawler" Rygiel (MA)

Cusk 31

41 X 27


Todd Mancivalano (MA)

Cusk 26

39.5 X 23


Don Hicks (NY)

Cusk 26

41 X 20.5


George Crossen (ME)

Cusk 25.25

38 X 23


Carol Snow (ME)

Cusk 25

39.5 X 25


Bob Nixon (NH)

Cusk 24.75

39.5 X 22


Danny Darby (NY)

Cod 62

51.5 X 36.5


Skip Smith (ME)

Cod 61

50 X 36


Joe Kelly (NY)

Cod 60.5

50 X 43


Dick Lyle (NY)

Cod 59

52 X 34


Matt Toohey (ME)

Cod 57

50.5 X 34


In addition to the list above, Fred Kunz (NH) and Lenny Terranova (MA) each caught cod of 56 pounds, a tie for the sixth largest cod of the season. The list of anglers who also caught haddock of 9 pounds includes Bill Hall (CT), Bill Pease (MA), Mark Wotton (ME), Glenn Brooks (ME) and another individual who, for reasons only he knows, didn't want to be mentioned. Stan Dlugoborski (CT), Donald Walden (ME) and Eric Buckman (MA) all caught white hake of 38 pounds. Captain Kenton Geer and Yuriy Slobodian (NY) also shared in the fifth largest pollock of the year with 28 pounders. Redfish of 2.75 pounds were also caught by Dan Bemis (NY), Charlie Coleman (ME), Steven Abrahamson (CT) and Thomas Hadley (NH).

As you can see, it was a great year for big fish, particularly big cod. It is the first year since the 80s that we have seen so many cod over 50 pounds, what we call a whale cod. There were seventeen whale cod caught last season which gives us twelve more than we landed during the 2002 Bunny Clark fishing season. Almost every whale cod caught last season was the angler's largest cod. Besides that, we caught many more cod over 40 pounds with many of those as the angler's largest. Of the 1,610 big fish that were caught on the Bunny Clark, last season, 1,017 were cod of 20 pounds or greater - many of these returned back to the ocean alive including a few whale cod! I don't believe this number is a record for us but it is certainly a special event considering the last ten fishing years.

The largest pollock was caught during the middle of the season, which is a bit unusual. Normally, our largest pollock are caught near the very end of the season. Last season, Dom Bruno caught the Bunny Clark's largest pollock in the middle of July!

Some of our largest fish last season were some of the Bunny Clark's largest fish that have ever been caught including Jim Mailea's hake, mentioned above. Mike Rygiel's huge cusk was caught on June 24th, that is the week we have historically caught our largest cusk. At 31 pounds, this cusk ranks as a tie for the third largest cusk that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark. Neil Morrill (VT) also landed a 31 pound cusk in 1988 (it became an IGFA all tackle world record for a short time) and Tim Williams (CT) also landed a 31 pound cusk during the 2002 fishing season. Tom Hadley's 31 pound wolffish is only the third largest wolffish that has ever been landed on the Bunny Clark.

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 2003 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-'03): Ken McLaughlin (ME) takes this award by a fairly large margin. 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. Ken has always been one of my top regular anglers but he has never won this award. Actually, he is now the only angler to have ever won this award without ever sailing on a marathon trip! Some of the reasons for his success last season included the landing of the largest number of trophy/steakers for a paying passenger, scoring an ace (the three largest fish on a trip) and a consistency for being high hook (the most legal fish landed) on a trip, with more high hook trips than anyone. He also recorded several personal bests including the four largest cod of his life, a 52 pounder (the eighth largest cod of the B. C. season - a picture of Ken with this fish appears on the left - shot by Kenton Geer), a 45.5 pounder, a 43 pounder and a 41 pounder (all Maine state trophies) - all released back to the ocean alive (except for the 43 pounder). He also landed the largest haddock of his life weighing 8.5 pounds (the eleventh largest haddock of the B.C. season - a digital image of his second largest haddock, an 8 pounder caught on the B.C. in 2001, appears on the right.) and the largest cusk of his life weighing 18 pounds (the seventeenth largest cusk of the B.C. season). During the August 25, 2003 full day trip, he caught half of all the legal fish landed for the boat out of the thirty anglers who were aboard that day. His two largest fish that day were the second and third largest fish of the trip! He recorded other special events that put him on top but these appear in other categories following this one. Suffice it to say, Ken had a wonderful year personally and comparatively. I couldn't be happier for him. I know that if he had a choice of accepting this award, he would probably decline saying that it was just the luck of the draw. However, I know better. This award is the most prestigious of the season and I'm sure the other anglers will want to congratulate him when they see him. That's a lot of what party fishing is about. Congratulations, Ken, from all of us!

Ken's total point count was 247. He also gets comparative value points that I didn't account for because he was so far in the lead. Dick Lyle (NY) took second place with a point total of 167. Ed Jeter (MA) was third with 136 points. All three anglers fish with jigs and jig sticks exclusively.

Female Angler of The Year: Tara Wilkins (VT) wins this award again. Although she didn't sail with us as many times this year as she has in the past, this fact gave her a better comparative value to the other female anglers. Very competitive, she was high hook on almost every trip or could have been (after being the most successful angler of the morning on one trip, she sat out the rest of the trip - it rained in the afternoon and she wasn't dressed for it. She was still the high hook on the boat for that trip!), she landed the most trophy/steakers of any female angler for the season and she accomplished a few personal bests. Of the trips she made, one stands above them all, July 28, 2003. On this day trip, she was the fisherman of the day. She was high hook with the most legal fish plus she won the boat pool with the largest cod of her life, a 47 pound Maine state trophy (her previous largest cod was a 37.5 pounder caught during the 2002 Bunny Clark season). This was also the largest fish hooked and landed by a female angler on the Bunny Clark last season and the twenty-seventh largest fish of the entire Bunny Clark fishing season. On that trip, she also landed a 32 pound Maine state trophy cod, the third largest fish that day, a 20.5 pound pollock and a double keeper catch that included a 13 pound pollock and a 20 pound cod on the same line at the same time. Her continued success and fishing ability have made her the top female for the last three years.

Best Bait Fisherman: Richie Hajduchik (NY), probably the most abused angler by a captain on the east coast, won this award last season as he did for the 2000 Bunny Clark fishing season. He didn't do as well as he did in 2000 with bait but then no one did as well with bait last year. Although not afraid to use a jig now and again, Richie almost consistently fished with bait and only used the jig as a last resort. He was high hook twice last season, once in the spring and once in the fall and both times it was because of his bait fishing prowess. Last season heralded the return of his favorite jig stick, the only person I know who prefers this for bait fishing. The two previous years I took this stick out of the arsenal in favor of others but brought it back again last year primarily because I know Richie likes to use it. Whatever the reason, Richie was the best and probably landed the most haddock of any angler for every trip he attended. His largest fish of the season was a 33 pound Maine state trophy cod which he caught in October. Congratulations, Richie! It's always good to have you aboard - no matter what it might seem from the things I say!

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 honest aces last season (honest meaning free and clear with no duplication in fish size or tied with other anglers). Fifteen year old Willy Goldsmith (MA) was the first of the season to do so, on the June 12, 2003 half-day trip. His three fish included a 34 pound cod, an 22 pound cod and a 21.5 pound cod. The fourth largest fish on that trip was a 20 pound cod caught by Mike Horwitz (ME). Mike was FY - '00. Unfortunately, shortly after this trip, Willy went to Ecuador for an educational vacation and got sick with some bug that prevented him from fishing with us for the rest of the season. He was in and out of hospitals all summer and fall and didn't quite have the stamina to complete a trip. I am happy to say that, as of this writing, he is fishing again and, although not totally himself yet, is almost healthy. Next year will be his last year as a Junior Angler. I'm expecting great things from him then.

None other than our own Ken McLaughlin caught the best ace of the season. On the September 30, 2003 full day trip, Ken landed a 43 pound Maine state trophy cod (his third largest fish ever), a 37 pound Maine state trophy cod and a 35.25 pound Maine state trophy cod, the top three fish of the trip and the only person during the season to take an ace with all trophy fish. The fourth largest fish was a 34.5 pound Maine state trophy cod caught by Dick Lyle.

Cindy Barlow (ME) landed the only other ace while attending a half-day trip on July 12, 2003. Her three fish included a 12 pound cod, a 10 pound cod and a 9 pound cod. She was also high hook that evening with the most keepers. Jeff Pettit (ME) landed the fourth largest fish on that trip, an 8 pound cod.

There were also three "shared" aces; by such I mean that there was some duplication with another angler's fish. Tim Williams (CT) recorded the best on the full day trip of November 6, 2003 when he landed a 40.75 pound cod, a 22 pound cod and a 21 pound pollock. Ian Keniston was the spoiler with a 21 pound cod. Tim was high hook on that trip. Chris Dow (VT) landed a 22 pound pollock, a 21 pound cod and a 14 pound pollock on the July 23, 2003 full day trip. Except for another 21 pound cod caught by David Haberl (MI), Chris would have been free and clear for the honest ace. Steve Montgomery (VA), during the afternoon trip of August 29, 2003, landed an 8 pound cusk, an 7 pound cusk and a 6 pound cod, the three largest fish of the trip. Unfortunately, Steve had to share the boat pool with Isaac Cowan (VT) who caught an 8 pound cod.

Most Trophies: Although not in any awards category (his fare is free due to his status - this gives him an unlimited number of opportunities over the ordinary angler), Captain Kenton Geer, responsible for many an angler's success story last season, landed the most trophy/steakers with an actual count of 54 fish! He accomplished this task by sailing on many of the marathon trips and some full day trips. While not taking anything away from this most excellent of anglers, I can tell you that it does help to know the electronics as well as he does! Ken McLaughlin landed 29 trophy/steakers for second place overall and first place for paying passengers. Dick Lyle landed the third most trophy/steakers with a count of 27 fish. Of particular notation were his 59 pound Maine state trophy cod, his 50.5 pound Maine state trophy cod, his 28.5 pound Maine state trophy wolffish, a 26 pound Maine state trophy pollock and his 22.5 pound cusk (the Bunny Clark's seventh largest cusk of the 2003 season). All these fish were the largest of that particular species he has ever caught! Ed Jeter landed the fourth most trophy/steakers with a count of 21 fish. His largest was a 40.5 pound Maine state trophy cod caught on the August 8, 2003 full day trip, the largest cod of his life. Tim Williams and Jim Feeney (MA) tied for the fifth most trophy/steakers with an actual count of 20 fish. Tim's largest fish was a 47.5 pound Maine state trophy cod caught on the November 7, 2003 marathon trip, the largest cod of his life.

Most Trophy Fish During A Trip: Jim Feeney led the pack in this category with a total count of eight trophy/steakers caught during the marathon trip on September 4, 2003. His fish that day included a 31 pound Maine state trophy white hake, another 31 pound Maine state trophy white hake, a 26 pound Maine state trophy white hake, another 26 pound Maine state trophy white hake, a 25 pound Maine state trophy white hake, a 36 pound Maine state trophy cod, a 32.5 pound Maine state trophy cod and a 23 pound cod.

Most Pools (largest fish of the trip): Ken McLaughlin landed the most pool fish (largest fish of the trip) with a total count of nine. There was no other angler during the 2003 Bunny Clark fishing season who landed more than four.

Hard Luck: This category (or guestletter) wouldn't be the same if I didn't make at least some reference to Don Robinson (NH) for finding a jig stick system of mine a couple of years ago (on the top of Jeffrey's Ledge) that was lost overboard. He hooked into it, realized it was mine but decided to keep it for himself instead of telling me about it. Well, I have given up on this new kind of fisherman and wouldn't take it back if it included a "C" note, now. However, since it takes all types, and I've decided to take the good with the bad, I just want to let him know that we did lose another system. It's a better system than the one he has now but we lost it a little bit further to the east. This will give Don a good challenge. It was lost while casting by Brendan McCluskey on July 2, 2003 during a day trip. One person said that Brendan "launched it like a football", whatever that means. Brendan was disappointed about the event but then he didn't realize how it would help me in writing the newsletter! Here's to you, Don.

Mike Melito (MA) came down to the dock ready to go fishing only to find the Bunny Clark had already headed out for a marathon trip on May 15! Ouch!

Nipper Naprava (MA) had to have had the hardest luck of the year. Of the several marathon trips he took with me last year, you can count the number of legal fish he landed on one hand. On one trip, he managed to avoid all the big fish even though everyone was catching them all around him. On another trip, the only fish he caught was a sub legal cod with one eye. On yet another trip, he hadn't been catching anything so I walked by him and tapped the back of his rod - just so he would think he had some action. When he jerked his pole in response, he hooked into (and successfully landed) a 13 pound cod! This year I am going to introduce the "Nipper Half Hour". I will set aside a certain amount of time during which only Nipper will be allowed to fish. This way he'll have a better chance of catching something while the rest of the boat prays that he does!

Most Improved Angler: The most improved angler for the 2003 Bunny Clark fishing season had to be Dan Merrow (NH). Dan started fishing with us a couple of years ago but never really got the hang of it until last season. I don't believe that he ever used a jig with much success before. Last season, he used a jig stick almost exclusively and fished in the bow along side excellent fisherman and dory mate, Ray Johnson (NH) - who also had a very successful season with us. Dan's successes included landing the largest cod of his life on three different trips. They were, in order of catch, a 20.5 pound cod, a 22 pound cod and a 40 pound Maine state trophy cod. He also landed his largest white hake, a Maine state trophy of 27 pounds, and the largest wolffish of his life, a Maine state trophy of 30.5 pounds. This ties with Matt Dean (NY) for the fourth largest wolffish that has ever been landed on the Bunny Clark. Matt landed his 30.5 wolffish during the 2002 fishing season.

Best Team: The 2003 Bunny Clark fishing season saw the return of two of my latest (figuratively) and greatest (actually) fishing teams, Les and Linda Paul (ME). Absent for few years due to circumstances beyond their control, they were back for a couple of visits just to show us they could still do it. Although I didn't captain either trip they attended, from what I understood, things haven't changed much. It was very good to see them back!

You can't mention any team on the modern Bunny Clark without including the Aquahtenang crew, a New Hampshire group held together by their fishing prowess and as one of the best contemporary folk bands alive today (my opinion, of course). There are two parts of this team. One part includes the two-time award winning Brian "Francis Mandola" Murphy and Marian "Merv" Murphy. The other part includes Gardner Murphy and Rebecca Hammer. Collectively, they release more legal fish back to the ocean alive per trip than any other group. They are also some of the nicest people you will ever meet. They make beautiful music together - literally and figuratively.

Largest Fish Released: Ken McLaughlin released more big fish (see the FY - '03 category) than everyone with the possible exception of Dave Gray (VT). Ken received so many free "Tag Team" t-shirts (for releasing a cod over 30 pounds) that his request for a free hooded sweat shirt was granted when he released (alive) the next four big trophy cod in a row! His largest fish, the 52 pound cod, was the largest fish to be released off the Bunny Clark last year. Dave, on the other hand, sailing exclusively on the marathon trips, also released many big fish, too numerous to mention here. The two biggest fish he released included his 50.1 pound Maine state trophy cod (his largest cod ever - caught last fall) and his 49.25 pound Maine state trophy cod (the second largest cod of his life - caught last spring). These two fish were the second and third largest fish to be released off the Bunny Clark last season.

Most Fish Released: Although I can't qualify this statement with exact figures, I believe that 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 - again!

Most Entertaining: Dennis Grabauskas (CT) takes it for last season. I don't know if his singing is getting better, he's just singing less or we had such fun abusing him about not getting his deer last year. It was just very enjoyable having Dennis aboard.

Best Luck: Bruce MacDonald (MA) & Bruce Meservey (NY) take this category by storm only because, although they have always had the potential, they have just done, well, okay on every other trip. This season both had a trip where they were head and heels above every other angler aboard. Bruce Meservey's trip came on the August 14, 2003 day trip. He didn't get any big fish but he was high hook capturing an eighth of all the fish landed that day. He out-fished Allan Breen (MA) and Glenn Babcock (NY) and secured the best day he has ever had on the Bunny Clark - and he has fished with me since I started!

Bruce MacDonald also had such a day on the October 20, 2003 marathon trip. Quiet and reserved, Bruce catches fish and sometimes gets a big one but there has never been a day where I have seen him take so many good fishermen to the cleaners as he did on that day. He was high hook (a first for him on the Bunny Clark) with the most legal fish, he caught the largest pollock (a personal best and the Bunny Clark's eighth largest pollock of the season), he landed the largest redfish (another personal best and the third largest redfish of the Bunny Clark season), he won the boat pool for the second largest fish of the trip and he caught the most big fish of the trip! Some of my best anglers were on the boat that day including Ed Jeter, Captain Kenton, Tom Campbell (PA), David "MLC" Hutchins (ME), Gregg "The Scholar" Rothermel (OR), Dick "The Preacher in the Pulpit" Lyle and Bruce's son, Dave MacDonald (Who, incidentally, wouldn't have been able to find his hind-end in the bath tub that day!).

We had two good days to be Bruce! Actually, as I recall, Bruce & Marilyn Vinokur (CT) had two wonderful day trips this year as well! I'll have to look and see how Bruce Ebbeson (MA) did.

Most Unusual Catch: I recall two occasions of particular interest. On one occasion, Ann Frisino (NY) couldn't get her terminal gear off the bottom. She gave the rod to her husband who had an equally hard time. Ian was called in to help. When he took the rod he realized that it was a real big fish and tried to hand the rod back to Ann's husband. Neither Ann nor her husband wanted anything to do with it. So, Ian reeled in the 50.25 pound cod himself! At the time, it was the fifth biggest fish of the Bunny Clark season!

A similar thing happened to Fred Kunz (NH) but, this time, I was called in to help. Fred knew he had a big fish but he could only get the line part way up where it wouldn't go any further. We tried for ten minutes. Finally, with both of us on the line, we broke it off at the jig. Fred was discouraged and I was upset that I might have spoiled his chances. At least fifteen minutes later, another angler on the other side of the boat hooked into a fish that was also very slow coming to the surface. After a few minute's struggle, this angler discovered that he had caught a huge piece of old gill net. In the gill net was the jig that Fred had lost. Attached to the jig was a 39 pound cod!

Biggest Double: On the November 5, 2003 marathon trip, Taylor Keene (ME) landed the biggest double keeper catch of the 2003 Bunny Clark fishing season. His catch included a 38 pound Maine state trophy cod and a 26 pound Maine state trophy cod, both caught on the same line at the same time! This is a remarkable catch. It's even more remarkable when one realizes that this was Taylor's first deep sea fishing trip and the first time he had ever seen a jig stick in use. Even more impressive is the fact that he won both boat pools for the largest and second largest fish of the trip. It's the first time an angler has won both pools with two fish from a single catch while aboard the Bunny Clark - the two biggest groundfish of his life!

Quote of the Year: Jim A. Hall (ME), fondly referred to as "That A. Hall", lost a huge fish after a lengthy battle - probably a cod - while attending a late spring marathon trip. As he was catching his breath, I walked over to him and expressed my regret for the loss of such a potentially huge fish. "That's all right", he said. "It was too big for me anyway!"

Best Attitude: Any angler on the Bunny Clark from Old Forge, New York (or their relatives from Nebraska)!

Shortest Fight: Arnie Buza (NJ) lost over 400 yards of line to a large bluefin tuna during the June 3, 2003 marathon trip. I had enough time, after the call, to run from the cockpit to the pulpit just as the last thread went off his spool! Spectra line isn't that expensive, is it, Arnie?

Unexplained Phenomena: What possessed me to neglect to take a picture of Keith Borkowski's monkfish and make him miss the traditional early winter cover picture he has come to expect year after year on the Bunny Clark's web page? - How could it be that Rick Dionne (ME) and Mark Boulet (ME), both fishing with jigs, catch the same 12 pound cod, one with a treble hook in the right side of the fish's jaw and one with the other treble hook in exactly the same place on the left side? - How is it that ten year old Allyson Fuehrer, our best young angler, gets the largest cod of her life (weighing 22 pounds), a potential IGFA world record in the Small Fry category and still doesn't get the award, the second time a similar occurrence has happened in as many years? - Do we have a ghost on the boat? If not, how else could Captain Kenton lose Bob Johnson's (ME) 20+ pound pollock after getting it in his hands? I was told that it was as if some invisible force just swept the fish back into the ocean. Also, why did Bob's pollock swim right straight to bottom when every other big pollock floats after capture? - Where did Ozzie LaChance (MA) find all those dogfish when no one else was catching them this fall? - How is it that a guy like Craig Whitt (MA) can fish all day with bait, catch nothing and then in the last two minutes of the trip grab someone else's jig stick, take a cast and successfully land the largest fish of the day, a 41 pound Maine state trophy cod, the largest cod of his life and go home with the pool winnings? - How can Don Zimmerman (CT) catch the largest fish of his life while, right beside him, Steve LaPlante (CT) catches nothing? - Is it really true that Tom Miller (NH) fished on the Bunny Clark for twelve different trips and caught his first trophy fish of his life, a 28 pound white hake, on the afternoon of the last trip of the 2003 fishing season? - And how is it that Greg Veprek (MA) can tangle up a nice guy (and great distance runner) like Steve Linn (PA), make Steve lose his fish while, at the same time, successfully land one of the largest pollock of the Bunny Clark fishing season - and then complain about getting "another pollock"? - What about Mark Keller's (ME) propensity for doughnuts? - Dave Lawson (NH) didn't get sea sick on a marathon trip and actually enjoyed himself? That is indeed strange!

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 - as she has for so many years. 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 came back for her second season with us as a reservationist last summer. A daughter of a good friend of mine who actually came down and fished with us last year, Stacey was excellent with people and excellent with us. We are hoping to have her back this season. Seemingly shy and demure, Lisa Robichaud also spent a second season with us. She did a great job for the Bunny Clark but she did an even better job while working at Barnacle Billy's. I'm afraid we are going to lose her for this coming season. 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. Jane Staples, our newest recruit, has been working between reservations and our office computer. Jane has been a breath of fresh air running the business and taking a load off Renée so Renée can properly raise her baby girl. 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.

I always save the best for last. The Bunny Clark would not be the Bunny Clark if it were not for such wonderful individuals who are aboard her as passengers every day. Some of you are aboard to take a chance, some are my regular anglers, some are there because of referrals and some are more than friends. All of you allow me to come back year after year to see what exciting things we can do with the fish off the Maine coast. I can tell you that I fished for many years commercially and I liked it. But I never really enjoyed the day to day until I started to include people like you. Thank you very much for making my business and my life. Enjoy your winter in a healthy and prosperous way and I'll very much look forward to seeing you all again this season!

Best Fishes, Tim Tower

Our First Trophy Fish of the Bunny Clark 2003 Fishing Season

Phil Wilson (NH) can be seen above holding the first trophy fish, a 2 pound redfish, on the bow of Bunny Clark during the April 2, 2003 marathon trip. Excellent to eat, the redfish made its debut as a Maine state trophy fish in 2003. I was glad that one of my best anglers caught the first status fish of the season! Erik, you'll have to stay out of the fires to keep up with Phil!

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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