The 2005 Bunny Clark Guestletter

Tim Tower's annual primer on the 2004 Bunny Clark fishing season

January 18, 2005

Dear Guests:

Our twenty-second Bunny Clark season has ended and another year has begun. Where does the time go?

[The image on the left is a shot of Tom Hadley (NH) holding his 47 pound cod. The picture was taken in July 2004 on a full day trip. This is the largest cod that Tom has ever caught. During the 2003 season, Tom caught his largest wolffish, a Maine state trophy weighing 31 pounds (the largest wolffish caught that season and the third largest wolffish that has ever been landed on the Bunny Clark), and his largest white hake, another Maine state trophy of 34 pounds. ]

To say that last season was different than previous seasons would be an understatement. Following two of the coldest winters in over two decades, the 2004's ambient surface water temperature was lower than any year I have recorded for the last thirty years. We had one of our windiest starts followed by the second calmest summer and early fall season we have ever had. It was almost as if all those hurricanes down south sucked the energy out of the north. Even the fall wasn't as windy as most falls.

The fishing last season was excellent, mostly due to the fact that just about everyone went home with fish. More than any year of recent memory, it was like all anglers were on a level playing field when it came to landings. Oh, we still had our angling heroes but they didn't stand out as far as they have in other years. It was also an excellent season and a special year for our younger anglers.

The spring fish showed up later than normal and those early haddock were found further south than we normally fish for them. However, it was one of our three best haddock years and the only year the Bunny Clark has seen where haddock could be found in every fishing area. We even had afternoon half day trips where the haddock was the only species landed - certainly a first! The pollock and wolffish were smaller in general than any previous season. Numbers of wolffish were down but not severely so. We had plenty of the 10 to 15 pound pollock during the late summer through the end of the season, like normal (Many occasions we had to shy away from them for fear of catching too many!). However, pollock over 20 pounds were rare, the least number of slammer pollock of any season. The dogfish didn't hang out on the offshore grounds during the early part as much as they did the season before. In general though, there were more dogfish around than during many years and they stayed much later than normal in greater numbers. Numbers of legal cod were down, the least number of legal cod landed since the Bunny Clark was launched and only seven percent of the total for the last nine seasons combined. However, landings of large cod were much higher than normal.

If you discount the early to mid '80s, last year was our third best hake year and more hake were found on the open bottom than any year I can remember. The cusk was as plentiful as ever with some areas so populated with them that you had to avoid these areas if the majority of customers didn't want them. Some of the cusk landed last season were of exceptional size. Our redfish too were of exceptional size last season. Like the cusk, there were places we found that were filled with numbers of nice sized redfish. Incidental bluefin tuna hook-ups reached a peak last season as did our incidental tuna landings. We had over twenty-five tuna hookups, most of which probably could have been landed with a little luck and time. We boated six small bluefin tuna on cod rods, a Bunny Clark record. Herring, our main baitfish, were down yet again, a steady decline since the early '90s and directly related to the mid-water trawling bait fishery that started in the early '90s. This alone could have made the difference between a great year and our best year.

For the upcoming season, we will still have the Merv series jig sticks available (a super rod made by Saco Bay Tackle Co. in Saco, Maine) but I will be replacing the graphite jig sticks that I built a few years ago with a new jig stick made at Surfland in Plum Island (Newbury), Massachusetts. These new sticks are a graphite composite where the after two thirds of the stick is stiff graphite and the tip is glass. This gives you a strong, very responsive, light rod that has just enough forgiveness in the tip to allow the angler to use the new thinner no-stretch braided (Spectra, etc.) lines without compromising the angler's fishing style. Mike Horwitz (ME), one of my most favorite liberal thinkers and excellent anglers, first called my attention to the blank used for this new rod. During several trips with me, Mike lost very few fish with the blank (rod) and was also able to use it very successfully as a bait rod. The Surfland rods are designed by me and will have a slightly different guide system, which will make it easier to use; a great rod for the new jig inspired angler and expert alike. I am very excited about these new rods.

As for other improvements, there will be many. However, most will address the boat itself including cosmetic work, rebuilding the transmission, new batteries (house and starting), etc. and etc. The changes to fishing equipment made before last season (i.e.: the modified Penn 113H reels for the jig sticks, line changes, etc.) will remain as part of the program for the upcoming season - these worked as well as planned. We will, however, be using Spectra line for the entire jig stick line including the new graphite sticks. This will eliminate the Micron (Dacron) line previously used on half of the jigs sticks. Micron will be used on a special request basis only. I might add, the Pro Gear reels, my favorite groundfish reel of all time, will still be available upon request - as always!

Captain Kenton Geer, the captain of the Bunny Clark for the two previous seasons, stayed in Hawaii last season. He was involved with sport fishing operations specifically targeting the successful landing of huge marlin. We were sorry not to have him with us again. Ian Keniston, my first mate/deck hand for six seasons, officially became Captain Ian Keniston during the middle part of May last year. Until then, I was running the boat every trip. By the end of May, Ian was skippering the Bunny Clark on a regular basis. My employment on the boat dropped to four days a week. Later in the season, I picked up Captain Tom Corbett who skippered the Bunny Clark on Sundays. Tom had successfully skippered the Bunny Clark four years before. The schedule for the rest of the season called for me to run all the marathons (Ian ran one very successful marathon while I was sick in bed with a high fever!) while Ian took the boat three days a week and Tom took it on Sundays.

Captain Tom started where he left off and did a wonderful job for me. I was very happy to have him. Ian became the backbone of the Bunny Clark at sea operations. He turned into one of the best skippers I have ever had on the boat. He was great with anglers, good at finding the fish and wonderful with me. I couldn't have been happier.

On the days that Ian wasn't the captain, he either had the day off (once a week) or he was the deck hand. Ian is one of the best deck hands I have ever had. My other deck hand last season was Jared Keniston, Ian's younger brother. Back from a year's tour with the Marines, he took the place of Anthony Leotta, my full time deck hand from the 2003 fishing season. He was a tremendous asset. Backed by many years working as a mate on party boats and lobster boats throughout the state, Jared displayed a work ethic typical of a Keniston. He proved to be very sensitive to the needs of every angler and was every bit the expert with fishing equipment and boat handling experience I had expected him to be. I felt very lucky to have him as one of the team.

Ian (shown lower right with the largest cod of his life at 52 pounds - the ninth largest cod of the 2004 fishing season) and Jared are working with me for the winter. Together, with Captain Tom Corbett, the four of us will be much better prepared to meet the demands of a more successful fishing season in 2005.

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. The largest cod of the season that was tagged and released was a 41 pound Maine state trophy caught by Karl Day (ME) on June 1, 2004. On May 27, 2004, Ken Ung (MA) also had the opportunity to tag and release the largest cod he had ever landed, a 40 pound Maine state trophy. However, while busy in the cockpit, I misunderstood Ken's demands and called to (then deck hand) Ian Keniston for a gaff who promptly did as he was told. Ken, an excellent angler and very conservation minded, was disappointed, as I know I would have been in the same situation. The second largest fish of the season that was tagged and released was a 39 pound Maine state trophy cod caught by Owen Thurston (ME) on June 24, 2004. The third largest tagged and released fish was a 36 pound Maine state trophy cod caught by Eric Pysar (NY) on July 20, 2004. Some other big trophy cod that were tagged and released included a 32.5 pounder and a 28 pounder by Eric Grove (ME), a 27.5 pounder by Dick Lyle (NY), a 27 pounder by Steve Selmer (NH), a 31 pounder by Rowland Mortensen (NJ), a 26 pounder by Ken McLaughlin (ME), a 32.5 pounder by Steve Shugars (ME) and a 27 pounder by Dave Gray (VT).

We had other great releases of trophy cod during the season. Although not tagged, these fish went back to the ocean alive just the same. On May 25, 2004, Jim Feeney (MA) released a 39 pound Maine state trophy cod. On November 16, 2004, Ken McLaughlin (ME) released a 32.5 pound cod, a 25 pound cod, a 27 pound cod, a 30.5 pound cod and a 28 pound cod, the most trophy cod releases for a single angler during a trip for the 2004 fishing season. Other great trophy releases of note included a 41.5 pound cod by Ian Keniston, a 30.5 pound cod by Kevin Casler (NY), some unplanned releases of huge cod of undetermined size by Breeze Keller (ME), Jared Keniston and Al Turner (NY) and a 31 pound cod by Bob Nixon (NH). In addition, many anglers tried to release their biggest fish of the season but, instead, these fish had to be retrieved or the fish's health had deteriorated to such an extent that releasing them would have been a waste. This happened to a 28 pounder Dave Gray (VT) tried to release. It also happened to many others anglers with fish up into the 50 pound class. Also, many anglers too numerous to mention released many legal cod on a regular basis during the season. Regis Jauvin (NH), for one, released the most legal cod of any angler during the 2004 season.

Of course, many of our released fish remain "at large" swimming the ocean and, hopefully, growing bigger each day. Of those tagged cod that were caught again, two deserve a mention here. An 18.5 pound 35.25 inch long cod that was caught by Paul Revels (NH) was tagged on May 21, 2002 a few miles southwest of the Portland Lightship and was caught again on July 18, 2004 in just about the same exact spot! This time it was caught by a dragger out of Portland named the Edward L. Moore and skippered by Captain Scott Russell. It had grown five inches during its time at large and probably weighed around 25 pounds depending on its spawning condition. The other fish was a cod that I tagged and released on May 30, 2002 while fishing on the northern end of Jeffrey's Ledge. Sean Devich (NH) caught the 10 pound 28.5 inch cod. This fish was recovered three or four miles south of the Isles of Shoals, New Hampshire in 39 fathoms of water on June 4, 2004. It had grown seven and a half inches longer and was probably around 20 pounds when recaptured. The most interesting part about the recovery of this fish was that it was caught on a Maine DMR cod tagging trip as part of the Northeast Regional Cod Tagging Program ( aboard the F/V Jocka. Kerrie O'Donnell, Party Chief that day, re-tagged the fish with a NRCTP high reward tag and released the fish back to the ocean alive! The angler who catches this fish and returns it to the NRCTP will receive a check for $100.00!

During last season, we recovered many tags put out by the NRCTP. The lucky anglers who caught the tagged fish and returned it, received their choice of a coffee cup, a t-shirt or a cap with the tag logo on it. Also, these tag numbers are automatically added to a lottery that is drawn once a month, the winner receiving a check for $200.00. It is an exciting program and well beyond the scope of the one I started in 1983. By the way, you can go to their website and track the path of some of these cod. For instance, the high reward tag number for the fish tagged off the Isles of Shoals is H02687. You can use this number to track that particular cod.

On August 19, 2004, Greg Hughes (MA) landed a cod with a light blue high reward tag in it's back. Later, that month, he received a check from the NRCTP for $100.00. What is more significant to me is that the morning of the trip, he had to pay an extra $65.00 (a single day trip fare) for a friend who had made reservations but didn't show up!

As I mentioned at the beginning of this newsletter, it was an excellent year for big fish. The largest fish you can get is a state record or a world record. We had applications for both. Claims for world records are processed through the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) in Dania, Florida. This organization is recognized all over the world as the only place to register a world record fish caught recreationally by rod and reel. The recreational division of the Maine Department of Marine Resources under Bruce Joule processes claims for state records. There are committees for both that review and reject or accept record applications.

During the May 11, 2004 marathon trip, on a suggestion by me to take a day off and go fishing, Jared Keniston landed a 17 pound haddock, arguably the largest haddock I have ever seen caught on rod and reel. He hooked this fish just as the sun was making its way out of the water on the eastern horizon (The existing IGFA all tackle world record weight for the haddock is 14 pounds 15 ounces caught by Heike Neblinger off the coast of Norway on August 15, 1997). At the end of the trip, just a minute before the U.S. Post Office closed for the day, we had Jared's fish weighed officially at 15 pounds 9.8 ounces after over ten hours out of the water! The fish had to weigh over a quarter of a pound heavier than the previous world record weight in order to break the existing world record. We proceeded with the application and sent all the information required, pictures and a line sample from the reel Jared used to catch the fish. Jared was all set, I thought.

The IGFA reviews all world record applications every quarter. I called down there at that time to find out the status of Jared's claim only to find out that it had been rejected because the leader was over 30 feet long. Indeed, the leader that Jared used was 41 feet of 50 pound test Jinkai monofilament. I knew this when I sent the materials but I also knew that "if the fishing line is attached to the backing, the catch shall be classified under the heavier of the two lines". I figured that since the leader was longer than 30 feet, it was no longer the leader, it became the main line (which it was anyway) and the line attached to it, 80 pound test Izorline Spectra, became the backing. Since the backing didn't test over 130 pounds and the claim was for an all tackle world record, the record would stand and the "backing rule" would be insurance in this regard. Besides, other IGFA world record applications in the past had been accepted with leaders longer than 30 feet with monofilament lines of higher test only slightly longer than Jared's monofilament. The IGFA World Record Administrator at the time agreed with me and sent it back to the World Record Committee for review.

The summer progressed and the fall came and went with still no word from the IGFA. I called Ambassador-at-Large (formerly IGFA President and Director of Publications) Michael Leech and talked to him personally. He told me that the application had been rejected because of the leader rule. I explained my feelings on the matter and the intent of the rule where a leader is meant to be a short piece of heavier line so you can work with the fish and avoid chaffing when the fish is close to the boat, the origin of the "backing rule". If the leader is of less pound test, it should be considered the main line. In fact, there is no definition for a leader in the IGFA rulebook. Thus deciding the fate of a record claim under these conditions is moot. If so, I would think that the IGFA would rule in favor of the angler. This isn't the impression I got from Mr. Leech although he did agree to put the claim before the committee again. When I asked him if he would represent my point of view to the committee, he declined. As of this writing Jared has had no letter of acceptance or rejection from the IGFA in this matter.

It is expected that Jared's 15 pound 9.8 ounce haddock will become a state record once the committee meets this January. The line use qualification rules are not nearly as strict as the IGFA rules. If this haddock becomes the new state record it will eclipse the record now held by James Mailea (MA) who caught his haddock of 11 pounds 11 ounces aboard the Bunny Clark on September 12, 1991.

On June 10, 2004, another angler had a shot at an IGFA world record title. This time it was fifteen-year-old Matt Duncan (NY) for the male IGFA Junior Angler (Boys from 11 to 16 years of age) cod world record. His fish was a 48.5 pound Maine state trophy cod. The fish he had to beat was a 46 pound 1 ounce fish caught by then fifteen-year-old Willy Goldsmith (MA) on the Bunny Clark with Captain Kenton Geer on June 5, 2003. Unfortunately, Matt never had a chance. He laid he rod on the rail during the fight (an IGFA rule that automatically disqualifies a world record claim) and by the time we got back to the dock the weight of the fish would have been significantly less. I don't believe the fish would have had the weight necessary to beat Willy's fish. However, had it been caught within the rules I would have had the fish weighed officially and it might have tied. Also, had I been able to weigh the fish right after it came out of the water, it would have been the new Junior Angler world record.

And then there was Eleven-year-old Allyson Fuehrer (ME). Intent on making her mark the fishing world, she landed a potential female Junior Angler world record and captured two potential female Junior Angler Maine state records. On November 11, 2004, she went for the female IGFA Junior Angler (girls from 11 to 16 years of age) world record and caught a pollock of 11 pounds landed weight that would have qualified. All she had to beat was a pollock of 1 pound 4 ounces, this world record held by Megan Maimone. Allyson declined the opportunity because she felt that she had five more years to catch a larger one and didn't want to register a pollock that small. Pretty classy, huh?

One of her two potential female Junior Angler Maine (girls 16 years of age or younger) state records included a 5 pound 11.6 ounce haddock caught on the Bunny Clark during the June 3, 2004 full day trip. This category remains vacant at this time. Her best catch of the year, and the one that elicits a "wow" out of me, was her successful landing (according to IGFA rules) of a 32 pound Maine state trophy white hake on the full day trip of August 31, 2004. Its official weight on the U.S. Postal Service's scale ashore was 30 pounds 10.3 ounces. This was the second largest fish caught on that trip (There was a 48 pound cod caught by Don Smith (NH) on that day.) and it remains in a tie for the twenty-fourth largest hake of the Bunny Clark fishing season. I've heard that she may be vying for the state female Junior Angler record with another Junior Angler who caught a hake about half the size of Allyson's. If Allyson's big hake is accepted, this will be a hard state record to beat. It was indeed a great year to be Allyson Fuehrer!

Retribution was earned by another familiar Junior Angler by the name of Ryan Keniston, Ian's ten-year-old son. You may recall last year's Guestletter where he was mentioned landing a 27 pound Maine state trophy white hake. It might have become the new male Maine State Junior Angler (boys 16 years of age or younger) record but unmitigating circumstances prevented Ryan from achieving the honor. On the August 19, 2004 full day trip he did one better. He caught another big Maine state trophy white hake of 28 pounds. The official on land weight was 26 pounds 13.7 ounces, a size larger than his 27 pounder would have been had it been weighed ashore last year. If accepted, this fish will fill a slot that has been vacant for too long. We wish him the best of luck!

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

We were impacted less by Federal regulations last season. The regulations for the recreational landing of groundfish remained the same until the end of April 2004. On May 1, 2004, the beginning of the Federal fiscal fishing year, the minimum size requirement for haddock dropped from twenty-one inches to nineteen inches and maintained a no bag limit status for the second season in a row reflecting an increase in the haddock population throughout New England. The cod limit also decreased to twenty-two inches down from twenty-three inches. No good explanation can be given for that move. The ten cod average bag limit remained as well as all the previous size limits on the other species. These same regulations will be in force during the upcoming 2005 fishing season.

Before the size limit on haddock changed, we recorded the best haddock trip catch the Bunny Clark has ever been a part of. With over ninety more legal haddock than our previous best day (April 29, 2003), the day of April 18, 2004 will be remembered as a one stop day where everyone caught as many haddock as they wanted. Until that moment, I had never seen such a large school of haddock on the sounding machine. Had the size limit been what it is today (two inches smaller), I would have suggested releasing some legal fish or moved away from the spot. As it was we probably released over one hundred and fifty haddock between nineteen and twenty-one inches! Needless to say, Ian was waiting at the dock to help Jared complete the filleting when we got back.

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 2004 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.






Tim Williams (CT)

Lobster 2


Regis Jauvin (NH)

Skate 15



Don McCubbin (ME) holding his 33 lb. white hake, caught during a July 2004 full day trip.

James Fowler (VT)

Spider Crab 2


Leo Brault (CT)

Redfish 3

16.5 X 12


Trevor Johnson (MA)

Redfish 2.75

16 X 13


Dan Merrow (NH)

Redfish 2.5



Kil Song (NJ)

Redfish 2.5

16 X 13


Dennis Grabauskas (CT))

Redfish 2.3

15 X 12.5


Brian Murphy (NH)

Monkfish 15.5



Dick Lyle (NY)

Monkfish 15.25



Leon Hadley (NH/MA)

Monkfish 10



Dave Gray (VT)

Monkfish 8



Don Johnson (MA)

Wolffish 28

42.5 X 25


John Baron (MA)

Wolffish 24

40 X 20


Tim Williams (CT)

Wolffish 18

37 X 18


Joe Smith (NY)

Wolffish 17.5

36 X 18


Joe Szenda (MA)

Wolffish 15.5

36 X 20


Tom Staples (PA) holding his 13.5 lb. wolffish caught on a May 2004 full day trip.

Ben Barzousky (MA)

Pollock 32

44 X 24


Dick Lyle (NY)

Pollock 28

41 X 23


Steve Selmer (NH)

Pollock 28

39.5 X 22


Dick Lyle (NY)

Pollock 26

39.5 X 23


Mike "Hollywood" King (RI)

Pollock 26

38.5 X 24.5


Ron Noradki (NY)

Pollock 26

40.5 X 23


Tim Williams (CT)

White Hake 41.25

46 X 32


Reverend Ed Baisley (NY)

White Hake 40

47 X 30


Ian Keniston (ME)

White Hake 39

48 X 28


Wally Swinton (NY)

White Hake 38

45.75 X 30


Jeff Crate (ME)

White Hake 37

46 X 28.5


Steve Merriman (NY)

White Hake 37

48 X 30


Jared Keniston (ME)

Haddock 17

34 X 22


Fred Kunz (NH)

Haddock 10

29.5 X 16


Chet Potyrala (MA)

Haddock 9.5

30 X 18


Jerry Harrington (NY)

Haddock 9.5

29.5 X 17


Jim Arancio (NY)

Haddock 9.5

28 X 17


. Eleven-year-old Eric Wollaber (NY) holding his 2.2 lb. redfish
caught during a July 2004 half day trip.

Ray Johnson (NH)

Cusk 30.5

40.5 X 27


Annette Curry (NY)

Cusk 30

40.5 X 26


Ron Crook (VA)

Cusk 26

41 X 24


Bob Nixon (NH)

Cusk 25.5

39.5 X 19


Dennis Grabauskas (CT)

Cusk 25

38.25 X 21


Forrest Leslie (ME)

Cod 61

49.5 X 36


Mike "The Human Trawler" Rygiel (MA)

Cod 59

52 X 34


Tim Williams (CT)

Cod 58

51 X 32


Jim Feeney (MA)

Cod 57

49 X 35


Regis Jauvin (NH)

Cod 57

53 X 32


Brian "Francis Mandola" Murphy (NH) holding his 15.5 lb. Monkfish.
Picture was taken by Captain Ian during a September 2004 full day trip.

Ken McLaughlin (ME)

Bluefin Tuna 92

52 X 36


Roger Ryder (ME)

Bluefin Tuna 87

54 X 34


Tony Draus (PA)

Bluefin Tuna 57.5



Mike Smithonic (PA)

Bluefin Tuna 52



Tom Kuckla (PA)

Bluefin Tuna 35



There were six bluefin tuna caught this season, the smallest a tuna of 32.5 pounds, the smallest bluefin I have ever seen. Terry Gannon (ME) caught it on the September 28, 2004 full day trip run by Captain Ian. The anglers from Pennsylvania mentioned above were part of a three-way hookup on Captain Ian's first marathon trip. It isn't the first time we have seen a multiple hookup with bluefins on cod rods. This happened on an offshore trip a few years back, we hooked four and lost all four. It is the first time that three were hooked at once with two actually landed. The most we have ever boated at on a single trip is one. Later that trip, another bluefin was landed. Three bluefins on one trip - a new Bunny Clark record! Only the largest of the three was kept. I might also mention that on July 19, 2004, Tim Williams hooked a bluefin during full day trip. This was a fish of a little over 100 pounds (estimate), possibly the largest fish of the season. However, the hookup happened right at the end of the trip, we had to get in to run an afternoon trip, the Ultra Marathon was looming on the near horizon only eleven hours later and I had upset many anglers on a previous trip a couple of years earlier - after I spent too long with a bigger bluefin only to lose it right next to the boat. I offer this as an apology of sorts as I know had I stayed, that Tim would have landed that fish.

Some background information on the above trophy list. With only a couple of exceptions (four at the most) all the fish above represented the largest fish that that angler has ever caught in that species category. In addition, Jared's haddock is the largest haddock that has ever been landed on the Bunny Clark. The cusk caught by Ray Johnson is the seventh largest cusk and the cusk caught by Annette Curry is the eighth largest cusk that has ever been caught on any boat I have run in the last twenty-nine years. Regis landed the largest known skate that has ever been landed on the Bunny Clark.

Russell Mott (ME) landed the first legal cod of the season on April 3, 2004 after the first two trips had been canceled due to heavy weather. --- As luck would have it, I landed the first slammer pollock of the season, a 23 pounder on May 13, 2004, and the last slammer pollock, a 22 pounder on November 16, 2004, both caught while sitting next to Fred Kunz! --- We had our first whale shark sighting during an afternoon trip on June 17, 2004. It is probably the only whale shark I have ever seen and the only one ever sighted from the Bunny Clark. --- Tom Miller (NH) set a new mark and tied for the second most wolffish ever caught by an angler during a single trip. During the April 5, 2004 marathon trip, Tom landed eight good sized wolffish. The late Ray Hill (VT) also landed a record eight wolffish on the Bunny Clark in 1984 only two miles from shore. Al Turner (NY) holds the record with a count of nine wolffish during a marathon trip in early 1994. --- Justin Morton (NH) recorded many personal bests on the Bunny Clark this season. He also set a Bunny Clark record for the most haddock caught in a single trip. On April 18, 2004, he landed forty-nine haddock to break the record set by Paul "Chico" Astorino (MA) of thirty-nine haddock on May 1, 1995. On April 19, 2004, Justin landed over forty-one more haddock for a total count of over ninety haddock in two days! On November 11, 2004, he also landed the largest white hake he has ever caught, a Maine state trophy of 36 pounds. This was the seventh largest hake of the season caught 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 2004 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-'04): Tim Williams (CT) wins this award in one of the closest contests since Fred Kunz beat Paul Revels (NH) by a single trophy cusk (three points) for the 1999 season. 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. Tim has always been one of my top regular anglers but he has never won this award, although he has been close many times. Last season he didn't fish on an exceptional number of trips but he did exceptionally well on every trip he attended. Some of his achievements included four fish (one was actually a lobster - the only one boated in 2004) in the top trophy list (see above); high hook on almost every trip he attended; he landed the largest cod of his life (a 58 pound Maine state trophy), the third largest cod of his life (a 47 pound Maine state trophy) and the fourth largest cod of his life (a 45 pound Maine state trophy). These are just a few of his many achievements. There are many others that will be noted in the following paragraphs. I have to tell you that I have truly enjoyed watching Tim's fishing exploits over the years. This season, he seemed to have that magic that you only see in the very best. The fact that he appreciates everything so much only makes it more enjoyable for me to present him with this award. I'm sure I represent all the anglers who have ever known you, my crew and my family when I say congratulations, Tim, it is indeed an honor and a privilege to present you with this highest of compliments. Thank you for making last season one of the most exciting years on the Bunny Clark! [The picture on the left shows Tim with his 58 pound cod caught on the last scheduled day of the season while the picture below shows Tim holding his 47 pound cod and a 30 pound cod (under each arm), both caught on the October 29, 2004 marathon trip.]

Tim's total point count was 228. Ken McLaughlin (ME) took second place with a point total of 218. Dick Lyle (NY) was third with less than 100 points. All three anglers fish with jigs and jig sticks exclusively.

Female Angler of the Year: Marian "Merv" Murphy (NH) wins this award for the first time. We had many excellent female anglers this season but none were as successful as Merv. For the limited number of times she fished, she landed the most trophies on three of them, one being a marathon trip, she won two boat pools and she was high hook or in the running for it with few exceptions. She also landed the most trophies for any female angler with a total count of six. I'm sure she would have done better on many other occasions as well but she brings some stiff competition with her in the form of Brian Murphy (NH), Gardner & Rebecca Murphy and Dennis LaValley (MA). I don't know of many anglers who enjoy fishing and the experience of it as much as she does. It's always nice to have you aboard, Merv!

Best Bait Fisherman: Richie Hajduchik (NY) gets this award again as he did for the 2000 and 2003 fishing season. Always on his game, if there are fish to be caught on bait, he always seems to catch the most of them, particularly the haddock. Like many of the great fisherman I take, he also has the ability to know when it is the best time to switch from bait to jig or back again. Richie takes this ability and makes it into an art form. So much so that it's hard to tell when he is fishing with bait or when he is fishing with a jig. During one marathon trip in the fall, he landed almost all of the legal haddock that were caught and all the biggest ones leaving only five smaller haddock for the rest of the seventeen anglers who were aboard. His largest fish of the season was a 31.5 cod, which he caught on his last trip, November 12, 2004. As much as it might seem the contrary on many of the trips, it's nice to have you aboard. I appreciate the high performance angler that you are and whole-heartedly congratulate you on all your fishing achievements with us. Thank you!

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 four aces last year. Ken McLaughlin captured the best one, a double ace (the four largest fish), during the July 22, 2004 full day trip. His four fish included a 92 pound bluefin tuna (the largest fish of the Bunny Clark season), an 18 pound cod, a 15 pound cod and another 15 pound cod. --- The second best one was an ace caught by Tim Williams during the last trip of the season. He accomplished this all on one spot while anchored and all were big cod. Not only that, no one else out of eighteen anglers aboard caught a single cod (legal or sub-legal) on that spot except for Tim! His three fish included a 58 pound Maine state trophy cod, a 45 pound Maine state trophy cod and a 33 pound Maine state trophy cod. --- Tim Williams also caught the first ace of the season during the June 28, 2004 half-day trip. His fish included a 14 pound wolffish, a 9 pound cusk and an 8.5 pound cusk. --- We recorded another ace a day after Ken McLaughlin caught his, on the July 23, 2004 afternoon trip. On that trip, Jeff Neves (MA) landed a 12 pound cod, an 8 pound cod and another 8 pound cod, the three largest fish of the trip.

Most Trophies: Tim Williams landed the most trophies last season with a total count of 31. Bob Nixon (NH) and Fred Kunz tied for second with 18 trophy fish each. Ken McLaughlin was third with a count of 16 trophy fish.

Most Trophy Fish During A Trip: Ken McLaughlin led the pack in this category with a total count of eight trophy/steakers caught during the marathon trip/bachelor party (for Ian Keniston) on November 16, 2004. Yours truly, Tim Tower (Yahooooo!), got the second most with a total of seven during the same trip. Seven anglers landed the third most trophy/steakers, six trophy fish apiece, during the season. These anglers included Tim Williams, Bob Nixon, Gary Hammond, Jr. (NY), Ian Keniston (during his own bachelor party), Jared Keniston (also during the bachelor party), Jody Clark (NY) and Regis Jauvin. Six anglers also landed five trophies apiece. They included Yuriy Slobodian (NY), Fred Kunz, Dave Gray, Cindy Aubin (NY) and Bob Nixon again.

Most Pools (largest fish of the trip): Ken McLaughlin landed the most pool fish with a total count of five. Dick Lyle, Eddie Jeter and Ray Johnson all landed four pool fish each. Tim Williams and Jim Feeney both landed three pool fish last season.

High Hook: Ken McLaughlin recorded the largest number of trips where it was very obvious that he landed the most legal fish per trip. His count was fourteen trips. Tim Williams and Dick Lyle tied with thirteen trips each. Regis Jauvin was third with eight trips.

Hard Luck: The hardest luck of the season had to go to the trio of Nipper Naprava (MA), Chris Porter (MA) and Angelo Magri (MA) who always fish together but who, last season, picked all the bad weather days to do so. Their season started on the April 5th marathon trip, the worst trip of the season, where winds out of the north at twenty-five knots, driving snow, an ambient air temperature of less than freezing and four to six foot chops forced the three to sit under cover for the whole trip! Neither one of the three wetted a line all day! Their next trip together occurred May 4th, the windiest trip to date at thirty knots sustained out of the northwest. As luck (their luck) would have it, there was a strong current holding the boat beam to the seas on anchor - bow pointed to the north. The current also helped to steep the waves in chops of six to eight feet (and higher). Since their favorite fishing spots were along the port rail, they got hammered all day by these chops that would slap them directly in the face or, quite often, drop down on top of them. I got caught under one such wave myself without an oil top. The wave completely drenched me and funneled so much water down my oilskins that it filled both boots - my worst soaking to date. They turned into a twosome when Angelo developed health problems in the late spring. Their third trip was on October 23rd. It was so rough that morning that I canceled the trip before everyone carried their stuff aboard - including Nipper whom I met and turned around at the ramp. He was only too happy to oblige. Their last trip (the coup de grace), on November 8th, their calmest trip of the season with thirty knots of northwest wind without the larger current generated chops of their second trip, found Chris hurling all day. He didn't give up though and by mid trip had landed a 40 pound Maine state trophy cod, the hardest fought fish of his life! It was indeed a disappointing weather year for the Porter crew!

Most Improved Angler: Nipper Naprava was the most improved angler for 2004. He had to be; he caught but one legal fish on all the trips (four marathon trips or more) he attended in 2003! And those trips of 2003 were some great trips with many fish - including some real big fish. Last season, he had some hard weather (the paragraph above) but he also caught quite a few fish, a vast improvement, the likes of which, brought tears to my eyes!

Best Team: Without a doubt, the best team of 2004 included Merv Murphy and Dennis LaValley. The competition between these two is something that has to be witnessed to be admired. I truly believe it helped Merv attain the Bunny Clark status she has always deserved. It certainly held Dennis' angling interest going, so much so that he achieved personal bests on two occasions. My choice for this honor was cemented in the knowledge I gained in part by winter fishing competitively with Merv on my lobster boat, the Petrel. I know how she can draw the best out of you. Thus the definition of the category!

Exceptional Good Luck: The winner has to be Andy Dzikowicz (NJ) who, the day before the October 6th marathon trip, discovered the famous Spoiled Rotten. Once there, he procured some special hand lotion he had been searching for. Andy seemed very happy, almost glowing while fishing the next day. His only problem was that he had to have his friends bait his hook.

Most Unusual Catch: During the September 17th marathon trip, I was up in the bow gaffing a medium sized pollock that Chip Moore (MA) had caught on a fly located a couple of feet above his jig when a blue shark appeared from under the boat and bit the jig. For a moment I fought with the hooked shark until the jig broke and the shark swam away with Chip's jig in the corner of it's mouth. A few minutes later (or longer), Ben Barzousky (MA - shown left with his 32 pound pollock) reeled up his line to find Chip's jig hooked to his jig! The shark must have shaken the jig out of its mouth only to have it drift down to land on Ben's jig! What are the chances?

Biggest Double: On the June 18th full day trip, Homer Edwards (NY) landed a 42 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 the largest double keeper catch that has been landed on the Bunny Clark in three seasons.

Quotes of the Year: On the June 8th marathon trip, Dennis Grabauskas landed a 25 pound Maine state trophy cusk while fishing on the stern. It was our first real big cusk of the season, Dennis' largest cusk ever and larger than the IGFA all tackle world record when I first started fishing the Bunny Clark. I was ecstatic. Big cusk are so rare; it's wonderful when someone catches one. I expressed as much to a fellow angler (anonymous) while working the bow. "Aren't you going to go down and see this fish?" I asked. "No", he said. "The fishing is too good and besides, I'll see it on the Internet." Now that's the power of the World Wide Web!

Bill Gierhan (ME) enjoys his fishing trips on the Bunny Clark, usually during a Steve Shugars (ME) charter. Bill is very fun to be around but never catches a fish. Captain Ian Keniston, concerned about his future landings, asked Bill about this. His reply: "With a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other, what do you think I am going to do?"

It was a particularly rough fishing trip during the morning of April 16th. It was so rough that even the usually healthy Dana Decormier (NH) took a bunk. Ian was caught laughing at the seas, the situation and the anglers trying to fish during an April that hadn't been kind in giving up its fish. Gary Hopkinson (MA) had been trying to remain upright when he noticed Ian laughing. "I know what Ian stands for", He said. "I Am Nuts!" Maybe you had to be there.

Best Attitude: In the old days, when I used to yell and scream and dance around in a tirade, I expected anglers to cower in fright. Such was the feeling I got when Paul "Chico" Astorino remained respectfully quiet during one of my diatribes in the early days. Now if I get upset, he just laughs. It's given me more than just a pause for reflection (or a laugh). You've got to love him. Who's a teacher if he can't be taught? Wouldn't you say that was true, Barry Juhasz (CT)?

Shortest Fight: Graham Bates (VT) hooked our first bluefin tuna on the afternoon trip of June 24th. He didn't have a chance. As we watched the line disappear off his spool, there wasn't a hope of stopping this fish. I'm not sure if the fish even knew it was hooked.

In Passing: Bruce Ebbeson (MA) was making his way down to the Bunny Clark last fall on an icy ramp with his arms full of equipment when he slipped and fell. No, he didn't die or even get hurt (physically). However, he did land on his favorite fishing bucket and broke it into pieces! It may have not seemed like much to the average fisherman but this bucket was like a memorial to all Bruce's best fishing trips. There were trophy stickers and big fish stickers in a setting that just couldn't be replaced. And he mourned it like an old friend, the ethos of a slow year for Bruce on the Bunny Clark. Not a single trophy fish with me. Indeed, when his Christmas card arrived it showed Bruce with a large cod taken while fishing on some other boat. Alas Bruce, take this dagger out that we may live and breath together on trophy seas!

What's in a Name?: At the start of the July 19th full day trip, Aaron Lyle (PA), Dick Lyle's young nephew, approached his uncle to ask if he could put him in the boat pool. Dick muttered something like; "Didn't your father give you money?" At any rate, the trip progressed and Aaron wasn't in the boat pool. However, you measure success in many ways. Aaron celebrated his success by getting the largest fish of the day, a 41 pound Maine state trophy cod and the largest fish of his life. Although he couldn't win the boat pool, he gave birth to a new fisherman on the boat, the man we now know as Uncle Cheap! Hey Dick, what's in your wallet?

Unexplained Phenomena: What was in the air this summer that made Ed Jeter show up a week before the Ultra expecting to be sailing to far off places the next day? --- Was it the same thing that made John Baron show up for the marathon a day early only to take a drubbing from Jim Feeney as he drove home, tail between his legs? --- Where was John when Jim missed the bachelor party trip? Wish you had been there Jim! --- It's okay, so you missed the best trip of the year. There will be others. Right, Lance Burleigh? Nothing like being so late that you can't wave to your friends as they go under the bridge. --- The same thing happened to Eric Abrams and his father a couple of years ago. This year Eric made the boat but decided not to get into the boat pool. Captain Ian sponsored him, Eric landed the largest fish and the money went to Ian. A 49 pounder! Who knew? --- Actually, it takes much time on the ocean and many anchors left on the bottom to become a successful captain, Ian. "It costs a lot for an education!" (Dan Libby, circa 1990) --- Who would have the heart to call Dennis, that most excellent singer/fisherman, the Tolland Tangler? --- "Thank you, can you hurl on my right shoulder as well?" a semi-quote from Richie Hajduchik after he got assaulted on both sides during a late fall marathon trip. --- Actually, who could be more understanding than Stan Dlugoborski (CT) when I forget to mark his fish and he goes home with just a couple - and the simple truth that he was right? I owe you one, Stan. I won't forget! --- Only one trip for Greg Veprek (MA) on the Bunny Clark last season? --- Observe, if you will, the cat like reactions of young Allyson Fuehrer as she leaps out of the path of an approaching wave only to let her father feel the full force of that cold, wet behemoth! Did I spell your name correctly this time? --- And Jim "Bunky" Bowden (NH) has never been sea sick before? Right! --- Nice of you, Keith Borkowski (CT), to allow those neophytes (Dave Lybass (CT) & Don Gilbert (CT)) to fish the pants off you! Speaking of fishing prowess, where is that cover fish? --- Hey, Eddie Jeter, one other thing. Thanks for the new gloves! Any time you need to borrow any, you know I will be there for you! --- Don't worry Norm Denoyers (NY); many anglers lose all their line on the way out to the fishing grounds. --- James (shown above with his spider crab)! How could you let father Ted Fowler beat you this time? What do they call a guy who consistently loses most of the fish that he hooks? --- Adam Labelle (ME). One fish in two trips? You are just going to have to break down and ask Asheley Simpson (ME) about the fishing techniques she is employing! --- Carlos DaSilva (MA)! What do you tell fifteen Brazilians who all become sea sick on a moderately calm day near the end of July? --- Don Calsyn (MA). Did you hook a dolphin or was it that boat that just went by? --- That was a nice deflection, Jack Judge (CT). Lucky for you that you had your oilskins on! --- And Dave Cutler (ME); is that a dolphin following us or is it the anchor dragging behind the boat? --- There is always the next World Series. After all, Jim Maggiore (NH), you can't win them all! --- And then there is Rod Wood (PA), that most capable of fishermen. You are just going to have to pay a little more attention this season. A hook in the hand may not prevent you from fishing but it does slow you down! Could you swing that jig just a couple more feet to the left, Tom Miller? --- Dave MacDonald (MA) sure seemed like he did better this season. Of course, it's easy to look good when you're not fishing next to a bow god like Bruce Almighty!

Salute: To Jim Nodwell (MA), Bob Everett (MA) and the 104th Fighter Wing. I enjoyed, having you aboard last season and appreciate all the good things you have done for our country. Thanks so much! P.S. I keep the silver gift right next to this computer as a reminder.

In Memoriam: Captain Dan Libby passed away early this season after a fairly long fight with cancer. He and his wife, Kathy, started the Old Port Mariner Fleet, out of Portland, Maine, which, in the beginning, only consisted of the deep sea fishing boat, Indian II. The business became successful and grew into whale watching and party fishing. He helped me a lot during my beginning with the Bunny Clark and was a vital part of the industry. Dan will be missed very much indeed.

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 don'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 still the sweetest telephone voice and the best reservationist. We hope to see her this summer. Stacey Shore came back for her third season with us as a reservationist last summer. Stacey has grown into this business so much, is so good with anglers and us alike, it would be hard not to have her around. We are hoping to have her back this 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, on her second year with us, 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. Jane helps us whenever we need her all year round. 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.

Lastly, thank you all, the wonderful anglers and guests of the Bunny Clark for having us last season. This season will be the thirtieth year (three decades!) where I have taken paying passengers to sea with me. I can tell you from the heart that taking you has made me enjoy fishing more than you will ever know. I sincerely hope that this helps me show you some of the best times that you have ever had out there. That is certainly my goal. Thank you so much for making the Bunny Clark the success it has turned out to be. I am very much looking forward to seeing you aboard this season.

Best Fishes, Tim Tower

Our Seventh Largest Cusk of the Bunny Clark 2004 Fishing Season or Phil Wilson's Picture Featured Again?

Phil Wilson (NH) can be seen above holding his 22 pound Maine state trophy cusk, the largest cusk he has ever caught and the seventh largest cusk of the 2004 Bunny Clark fishing season. I featured his picture at the end of the 2004 Guestletter holding our first trophy (a redfish) of the 2003 season. I chose his picture again because it was just one of the top five best pictures of the year. This fish was caught on the November 10, 2004 marathon trip.

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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