The 2009 Bunny Clark Guestletter

Tim Tower's annual primer on the 2008 Bunny Clark fishing season

January 20, 2009

Dear Guests:

When I start to write this letter at the end of the fishing season, a lot of research is completed where I read over all that I have written and, in so doing; relive all the year's Bunny Clark experiences. One part of me rejoices in another wonderful season completed while the other part of me regrets another season gone by. So here I go again, writing about last year's experiences and this coming season's expectations. Welcome back to another Bunny Clark Guestletter, our twenty-sixth!

[The image on the left is a shot of Tim Williams (CT), the Bunny Clark's runner up in the 2008 Bunny Clark's Fisherman of the Year award. He is holding his 38 pound Maine state trophy white hake. Caught on the October 6, 2008 marathon trip, this was the largest fish of the trip and, Tim, it's pool winner for the largest fish that day. This was Tim's biggest fish of the 2008 fishing year and a tie for the sixteenth largest hake of the 2008 Bunny Clark fishing season. ]

No discussion of last season would be complete without mentioning the world's oil situation and how it altered our business. New records for fuel prices in the United States were being broken before our season started on April 1st. By April 19, we were paying $4/gal. for fuel oil, the highest, by far, we had ever paid. I had already raised the price of a fare for our two longest trips but the extra price of fuel meant a continued decrease in profits. I held out as long as I could until May 16th, when I implemented our first fuel surcharge. Surcharges continued on a daily basis. Mid July saw fuel prices go to $4.62/gal., another new record. That was the highest it went. August saw fuel prices decrease but never to the point where we could eliminate the fuel surcharge - until the season was over. In all, we paid $35, 000.00 more for fuel in 2008 than we did during the 2007 fishing season. Fuel surcharges compensated for all but $7, 000.00 of that increase. This coming season we are not going to raise the price of a fare. We will hope that fuel prices stay down as they are now and use the fuel surcharge again if necessary.

We had one of our better weather seasons last year. Aside from the first few days of April, April and May were calm. The fishing was very good and those anglers who booked at that time had comfortable fishing to enjoy it. Rainfall was below normal for April and May. The summer saw more rain than normal with thunderstorm activity higher, on average, than normal from mid July to mid August. The last three months of the season were calmer than normal, including November. We had no major ocean storms last season.

Landings were up over last year with increases in the number and size of haddock, cod, pollock and white hake. Haddock were found everywhere as were the pollock. The pollock were so thick at times; it prevented us from boating other species. Cod landings were up around fifteen percent over last year, not quite as good as in 2005 but better than both the 2006 and the 2007 fishing seasons. The average size was up as well. We found more white hake on the open bottom this season than any previous season making them more attainable on the drift and, thus, more relaxing and fun to catch.

We saw no halibut landed last season, although we did hook a couple that were lost. The redfish catch was about average with some larger than normal redfish caught. Wolffish were down to the lowest level we have ever seen, half of what was landed in 2007 and 2006 which were our worst wolffish years ever. We hooked a larger than normal number of bluefin tuna but boated only one. They were larger in size last season as compared to the season before and the equipment was just a bit under sized to handle them effectively. In general, we caught more pounds of legal groundfish than the 2007, 2006, and 2005 fishing seasons, falling a little short of the 2004 fishing season. And, we had this increase while taking many fewer passengers. The decrease in passenger count coming as an almost direct result of adding many more extreme day trips (with ten fewer anglers by definition per trip) and, thus, eliminating a half day trip on the same day in the process. It was also one of our best years for customer satisfaction in many years - a very good year indeed!

My Favorite Video of 2008: Starring Dana Ferrande Catching his 38.5 Pound Cod on April 16, 2008

Our bait fish and predator index was down this year, most dramatic being the big decrease in the numbers of dogfish caught as compared to the 2007 season. After the 2007 season was over I figured that, with more dogfish in 2008, we would hardly be able catch good groundfish. Thankfully, I was wrong. Blue sharks bothered us for a very small window of time in September. Herring, although prevalent enough in the early season, were more scarce than normal for the second half. This probably helped in decreasing the cod catch through the summer and fall just as it helped increase the cod catch in the first half of the year. Mid water trawling for herring remains the most destructive and dirty (with it's huge by-catch of groundfish) commercial fishery in the Atlantic ocean today. Why this fishery with no history in New England waters still exists in the face of the much cleaner and conservative herring seine fishery is beyond all sense of reason. Let's get smart, provide herring for everyone and make the commercial fishing for herring by seine only, please!

Improvements for the 2008 fishing season centered on the previously mentioned increase in our newest specialty trip, the extreme day. We added more of these trips in the spring and fall and included Monday's during the summer as an extreme day too. We received more compliments on these trips than any other, particularly during the warmer months. Other improvements included adding Cortland's "Hi Vis" Master Braid 65 pound test Spectra lines to our jig sticks (Our only tuna was landed using this line.). We also dropped the pound test from 80 to 65 on the Izorline braided Spectra lines, used with our jig sticks. Having lighter Spectra lines afforded longer casts and better water cutting ability in high current situations and deeper water. That combined with a line that has zero stretch virtually eliminates adjusting the stroke (while jigging) for different depths and situations. We also added more of the Penn Baja Special (113HN) reels to our jig sticks. This reel, the nicest reel that you can buy off the shelf for cod fishing, has been discontinued by Penn Reel Company. However, we are still rebuilding them in house and continue to be able to buy them. Our back-up jig stick reel was the Penn 113H modified by Nixon Machine, also a wonderful reel and very close in function to the Bajas. We are still using the McLaughlin and Merv series jig sticks made for us by Saco Bay Tackle Company, Saco, Maine as well as the Surfland jig sticks made for us by Surfland Bait & Tackle, Newbury, Massachusetts. After twenty years designing quality jig sticks, I haven't been able to find a better jig stick than these.

[The shot on the lower right shows fourteen-year-old Micah Tower (ME) holding his 34 lb. Maine state trophy white hake. This is the largest fish that Micah has ever caught and it was the second largest fish of that trip, the full day trip, on July 1, 2008. ]

Improvements for this years fishing experience will be focused mostly on the Bunny Clark herself. We are stripping the first three layers of fiberglass off the hull and replacing it with new glass layers using a new type of (state of the art) fire retardant resin, not available when I had the hull laid up originally. This along with a new type of water proof barrier coat and a new "paint job" will give the old girl a fresh new look. There will be other changes made to the hull and engine room area to improve safety and use by us during the regular routine of running the boat. Anything that makes boat handling less of a worry allows us to concentrate more on the fishing. Except for experimenting with a new type of monofilament for the boat rods, the fishing equipment will remain pretty much the same. " Our trips and schedule will also remain very similar to what we provided last season. And last, but not least, we will also be providing the most successful jig we have used on the Bunny Clark again this year, the Lavjig (to purchase these jigs yourself you can email: My choice is the 16 ounce Lavjig (plated or un-plated) but all models have been very successful.

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 our 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 with this while also answering reservation questions and scheduling fishing dates. We are still 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 (by writing us or calling using the information at the heading in this newsletter) 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 (or in previous years), you will not be required to send another this year in order to receive your Guestletter through the U. S. Postal Service.

We ramped up our tagging program last season. Ninety-seven legal cod were tagged and released alive last season by anglers aboard the Bunny Clark. The largest was a 32 pound Maine state trophy cod caught by Dan Kelley (ME) in late April. Dan also tagged the most legal cod with an actual count of thirty-five. Some of the other larger cod of his that were tagged included a 26.5 pounder, a 20.25 pounder, two cod of 20.5 pounds each and a 20 pounder. Tim Williams came in second with twenty-two cod tagged. His best ones included cod of 20.5 pounds, 25 pounds, 24 pounds and 21 pounds. Dave Gray (VT) and Dick Lyle (ME) tied for third with six tagged cod each. Dave's two largest tagged cod included one of 19.5 pounds and another of 23 pounds. Dick's largest fish was a cod of 13 pounds. Other anglers who tagged & released good fish included Bob Nixon (NH) with a 21 pounder, Dave MacDonald (MA) with one 19.5 pounds, Steve Selmer (NH) with one weighing 24.5 pounds and fourteen year old Alec Levine (ME) with a cod of 14 pounds.

We only got one tag return last season and it was from a cod that was tagged June 5, 2008 by Dick Lyle (ME) well to the northeast of the northern end of Jeffrey's Ledge. This cod was caught commercially by Captain Jim Ford, an excellent fisherman (by the way), aboard the F/V Lisa Ann II, thirty-two miles straight line distance south on the southern end of Jeffrey's Ledge in thirty-eight fathoms of water on October 12, 2008. This fish was twenty-seven inches when tagged and thirty inches when it was caught again over four months later.

[The shot on the left was taken by Captain Ian Keniston on the full day trip of June 14, 2008. The angler is Jay O'Connor (ME) holding his 38.5 pound Maine state trophy cod. This was the largest cod that was caught and released alive during the 2008 cod possession season on the Bunny Clark. A quick weigh-in, a quick picture (one) and the fish was dropped over the side where it swam quickly to bottom.]

We also had many anglers who released cod alive (without tags) on a regular basis with a total figure close to five hundred individual legal fish. The largest released cod weighed 38.5 pounds, a Maine state trophy, and was caught by Jay "Sanford" O'Connor (ME) in the spring. This remains the largest cod that Jay has ever caught. And, with his luck, he may catch that same one again - only a little bit larger this time! The second largest released cod was a 24.5 pounder caught by Dennis Reissig (NY). Rich Lusis (MI) came in third with a cod that weighed over 20 pounds. Incidentally, Steve Levine (ME) tried to release his 46 pound Maine state trophy cod when he caught it on July 1, 2008. However, it floated around for twenty minutes until, finally, we retrieved it as it had died.

To promote the release of big fish, we provide a unique Tag & Release t-shirt that is given free to the angler who releases (tagged or not) alive a cod over 30 pounds. We stopped this practice of giving away shirts during November when the Federally imposed no cod possession limit went into effect.

As most party boats have anglers who fish on a regular basis, so does the Bunny Clark. The Bunny Clark could quite possibly carry the best regular anglers in New England. At least, I think so and my crew would concur. Of these wonderful individuals, some go the extra distance to release legal cod on a regular basis. This noble act should be rewarded so, below, is a list of those unselfish Bunny Clark regulars including: Tim Williams, Dan Kelley (who probably released the most legal cod tagged or not back to the ocean alive), Dick Lyle, Dave Gray, Bob Nixon, Chip Chiapponi (CT), Dave MacDonald, Steve Selmer, Rich Lusis, Marian & Brian Murphy (NH), Gardner Murphy (NH), Rebecca Hammer (NH), Frank Noble (ME), Jay O'Connor, Sean Devich (NH), Eric Pysar (NY), Steve & Alec Levine (ME), Norm, LuAnn & Robert Herrick (MA), Don Somers (ME), Don Johnson (MA), Fred Kunz (NH), Shawn Rosenberger (PA) and Steve LaPlante (CT). If there are others I have forgotten, I humbly apologize.

The male Maine State Junior Angler (males of 16 years or younger) record for white hake was broken on July 4, 2007 aboard the Bunny Clark by thirteen year old Alec Levine (ME) with a fish of 35.2 pounds. This after ten year old angler Ryan Keniston (ME) had secured this record with a 26 pound 13.7 ounce white hake caught aboard the Bunny Clark on August 19, 2004. Last season, on June 17, 2008, the Maine State Junior Angler record was almost broken again when twelve year old Reece Dinofsky (FL) boated a 36 pound Maine state trophy white hake. The problem was that it was too close to the existing record when it was boated. The fish would have lost just enough weight to put it under had we gone through the motions of icing the fish, making the trek to get back and bringing it to a registered scale ashore. However, as fate would have it, Reece got a second chance a little more than a week later when, on June 26, 2008, he boated a 41.5 pound Maine state trophy white hake. On a registered scale ashore (at the local USPS), this fish weighed out at 40 pounds 6.6 ounces. The Maine State Saltwater Records Committee doesn't meet until January 2009 so this is still a potential state record. Barring any unforeseen problems, Reece should have the new male Maine State Junior Angler white hake record. We wish Reece a lot of luck in this endeavor and in all his future fishing adventures.

As an aside, Reece's father, Adam Dinofsky, fished as a boy on the Bunny Clark; his mother taking him on many a fishing trip. It was because of his previous trips and fond memories, he told me, that he chose to bring Reece aboard the Bunny Clark. I'm sure glad he did!

Note: Almost a month after Reece boated his potential (male) Maine State Junior Angler record (on July 21, 2008), fourteen year old Alec Levine, the current record holder (until officially beaten), boated another Maine state trophy white hake of 39 pounds. This would have broken his previous state record by at least 3 pounds but it was shy of besting Reece's bigger one. Just a month too late! It's great fun watching these kids, let me tell you.

[The digital image on the right shows Adam Dinofsky (left) and Reece holding Reece's potential Maine State Junior Angler white hake record an hour after it was boated on June 26, 2008.]

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

At the time of this writing, new recreational fishing regulations for the 2009 fishing season (the fiscal calendar year starts May 1st) had not come out. As they exist right now (or until April 31st), we have a 24 inch length limit on cod, a 19 inch limit on pollock, a 19 inch limit on haddock, an 11 inch limit on redfish and a 38 inch limit on halibut. There is no limit on wolffish, hake and cusk. There is also a ten fish bag limit on cod and a seasonal closure for cod possession from November 1st to March 31st. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is coming forth with an interim measure that is supposed to further restrict the retention of cod but these new regulations haven't been available to the public yet. My own feeling is that these will be measures that will only affect us during times where high grading or big landings of cod could be a concern. At any rate, I don't think these regulations will be so onerous that it will keep us from fishing as we have for the last two years. We'll see.

[A month after I wrote the above paragraph, the new interim Federal fishery regulations for 2009 were published (January 14, 2009). However, the Guestletters (in hard copy) had already been printed at that time. As I predicted, the new regulations weren't too bad. Starting May 1, 2009, the minimum possession size limit on haddock will drop from 19 inches to 18 inches. Starting on November 1, 2009, there will be a no cod possession season that will extend until April 15, 2010, or fifteen days later than the previous season. Recreational vessels like the Bunny Clark will still be able to sail and fish on those first fifteen days of April but they won't be able to keep cod. The cod will have to be released alive.]

As I feel that 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 to seven largest of each significant species during the 2008 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.


FISH/WEIGHT - in pounds

LENGTH X GIRTH - in inches


Dave Henderson (MA)

Bluefin Tuna 158.5

68.5 X 44


[The picture on the right shows Dave Henderson (MA), left, holding his 158.5 pound bluefin tuna along with Captain Ian Keniston (middle in white oilskins) and Matt Hausmann (NY).]

Dan Kelley (ME)

Redfish 3.0

17.5 X 13


Duane Tipper (VT)

Redfish 2.9

17 X 12


Louis Bellaud (NH)

Redfish 2.75

17 X 13


Ray Westermann (MA)

Redfish 2.75

17 X 13


Jim Meyer (NY)

Redfish 2.5

17 X 12


Gene Galuszka (MA)

Redfish 2.5

17 X 13


Dan Hatfield (CT)

Monkfish 30

37 (length)


Jonathan Mason (VT)

Monkfish 24.5

35 (length)


Brian Walsh (NJ)

Monkfish 21.5

34 (length)


Chris Porter (MA)

Monkfish 20.75

36 (length)


Bob LePan (VT)

Monkfish 18



Steve McGrath (NH)

Wolffish 23.5

40 X 23


Bev Branch (TX)

Wolffish 17

36 X 20


Ed Martin (ME)

Wolffish 14


Peter Daige (MA)

Wolffish 13.5


Ken Fowler (PA)

Wolffish 13


Tim Williams (CT)

Wolffish 13


[Eleven year old Kayla Lombardo (shown right) with her 9 pound wolffish caught on June 27, 2008 (Ian Keniston digital image.]

Dave Gray (VT)

Pollock 34

45.5 X 24.5


Tim Tower (ME)

Pollock 34

40.5 X 26


Brian Toyota (NY)

Pollock 27

40.5 X 22.5


Ron Roy (NH)

Pollock 26

39.5 X 22


Tim Tower (ME)

Pollock 26


Jared Keniston (ME)

White Hake 45

50.5 X 33


Jeremy Jones (ME)

White Hake 43.5

50 X 34


Dan Kelley (ME)

White Hake 43

49 X 30


Dan Kelley (ME)

White Hake 42

49 X 30


Reece Dinofsky (FL)

White Hake 41.5*

46.5 X 31.5


[Jay Kennedy (VT) holding his 7.5 pound Maine state trophy haddock caught on the June 12, 2008 marathon trip - right.]

Tyler Lamphear (NY)

Haddock 10

30.25 X 17


John Guy (NY)

Haddock 9

29 X 17


Timothy Rider (NH)

Haddock 9

29 X 16


Dave Bingell (CT)

Haddock 8.75

27.5 X 16


Ron Mortensen (NJ)

Haddock 8

27 X 16


Dan Kelley (ME)

Haddock 8

27 X 17


Glen Martin (ME)

Haddock 8

29 X 16


Dan Kelley (ME)

Cusk 29

43 X 24


Frank Wong (VA)

Cusk 23

39.5 X 22


Ed Docalovich (PA)

Cusk 20.5

35 X 22


Mark LaRocca (NY)

Cusk 16

36 X 22


Dave Baillargeon (MA)

Cusk 15

36.5 X 18


Aaron LaBrecque (MA)

Cusk 15

33 (length)


Steve Wiater (MA)

Cod 68

51 X 34


Clarence Potts (PA)

Cod 59

52 X 33


Bruce Goldschmitt (MA)

Cod 53

48.5 X 32


Rick Gurney (MA)

Cod 50

52.5 X 28


Steve Levine (ME)

Cod 46

45.5 X 30


[Matt Hausmann (NY) holding his 2 pound egg bearing cull lobster which he caught and released during the June 3, 2008 marathon trip - right.]

Richard Gelaznik (MA)

Barn Door Skate ± 20

released alive


Matt Hausmann (MA)

Lobster 2

released alive


* Reece's fish weighed 40 pounds 6.6 ounces, after eight plus hours out of water, on a registered scale ashore.

  • Steve Wiater's cod is the largest cod that has been caught on the Bunny Clark since Neil Downy (MA) landed his 83 pounder on an offshore trip in 1992.
  • Dan Kelley's cusk ties with Ross French (NY) - our first cusk all tackle world record - in 1987 and Donald F. X. Angerman (MA) in 1991 for the eleventh largest cusk by weight that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark. This fish also ties, in length, with the largest and longest cusk that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark, Kenton Geer's 36 pounder caught in 2002 at forty-three inches caliper fork length.
  • Dan Kelley becomes the second person in Bunny Clark history to appear five times in the top five trophy list for a season. The only other person to do so was Donald F. X. Angerman when he appeared in the top five trophy list five times during the 1991 season, the year he won the Fisherman of the Year award. Five times is the most any angler has every appeared in the list. Dan has also appeared on the list four times during one season as has Donald F. X. Angerman, Fred Kunz (NH) and Tim Williams.
  • Steve McGrath's wolffish is the largest wolffish that has been caught on the Bunny Clark since Don Johnson (MA) caught his 28 pound Maine state trophy wolffish during the fall of 2004.
  • Dan Hatfield's monkfish is the largest monkfish (goosefish) that has been caught on the Bunny Clark since Steve Jones (VT) caught his 41 pound trophy in the fall of 2002.
  • Dave Gray's and Tim Tower's pollock are the largest pollock caught on the Bunny Clark since the 2002 fishing season when the top seven pollock caught that year ranged from 34 to 44 pounds!
  • Dave Henderson's tuna is the second largest bluefin tuna that has ever been caught by conventional groundfish tackle on the Bunny Clark (fifth overall). It was caught with a 12 ounce Lavjig and was brought to gaff ten minutes after it was hooked! There have been a total of fifteen bluefins caught in that manner since 1983. The largest bluefin caught via "cod rod" was one of 208 pounds landed by Emile Gallant (ME) in 2001 with Captain Adam Bissell during an afternoon half day trip.
  • Rick Gelaznik's barn door skate is the only barn door skate, to my knowledge, that has ever been boated on the Bunny Clark. After a picture was taken by Captain Ian Keniston, it was released back to the ocean unharmed and alive.

    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 2008 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 and/or statistical fact 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-'08): Dan Kelley (ME) takes this award for the first time. After two previous seasons of "learning the ropes" and recording some excellent catches (including nearly capturing the all tackle hake world record), he came on this year with a vengeance. After the initial calculations, Dan led his closest competitor by fifty-seven points. The rule of the competition states that if your closest competitor is within thirty points, comparative values points (CVPs) have to be added on the days where they fished on the same trip together. I didn't need to use CVPs but since Dan's closest competitor was Tim Williams, one of the finest groundfish anglers I have ever known and winner of the Fisherman of the Year award for the last four Bunny Clark fishing seasons, I made a "courtesy exception" (for my own piece of mind) and counted the CVPs, just to make sure. In so doing, Dan came out ahead by five points (71 to 66), this from just over twenty fishing trips together, cementing my decision for FY-'08.

    [Dan Kelley, shown right, can be seen holding his 29 pound Maine state trophy cusk. Interestingly enough, Fred Kunz, who was fishing right beside Dan, hooked up to what he thought was a huge cusk himself. Fred lost his half way off bottom. The picture, lower left, is Dan again holding up his 41 pound Maine state trophy cod caught on a marathon trip in mid April. ]

    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 Fisherman of the Year. Dan was consistently the best or one of the best anglers last season. His fishing ethics, ability and success with the big ones made him so. Dan recorded more trophy landings than any angler in recent history and since the mid to late 1980s. His trophies were exceptionally large as well. Included in Dan's trophy bag last season were some of his personal bests including his largest cusk at 29 pounds, his largest cod at 41 pounds (tenth largest of the B. C. season), his largest haddock at 8 pounds and his largest redfish at 3 pounds. He was simply the best angler of the Bunny Clark fishing season. I want to congratulate you, Dan, for winning this award (and showing us the magic). For me, as a professional bystander, it was indeed a pleasure having you aboard and watching all the excitement. A lot of exceptional things go into a year that aren't included in this award. And there were a lot of those as well, making it extra special for me. Thank you. I wish you a most successful fishing future!

    Dan's total point count was 346 (without CVPs). Tim Willams took second place with a point total of 289. Dick Lyle (ME) was third with 95 points. I am reminded that all three anglers fish with jigs and jig sticks and, almost exclusively, do not fish a cod fly over the jig. Dan never fishes with a fly. These accomplishments become even more meaningful when you consider that they are limited to only one fish a drop (with rare exceptions). It certainly makes it that much harder then to reach high hook status on a given day and almost eliminates you from the points that could be gathered by landing one of the top five double keeper catches of the season.

    Female Angler of the Year: Gloria Gennari (MA) wins this award for the third season in a row. Her consistency never fails to compliment her ability and her command over even the toughest fishing conditions is just exciting to watch. She was, without a doubt, the best last year.

    Best Bait Fisherman: For last year's Guestletter, I had no one who stood out from the Bunny Clark's angling world as the consummate bait fisherman. This year, thankfully, I was able to come up with someone who (with a unanimous crew vote) fits the bill. This angler is none other than Ray Westermann (MA). Ray shamelessly baits anything with a hook on it. It doesn't matter if he's using a fly, a jig or a bait hook. This year he was particularly successful landing his largest hake, a Maine state trophy of 30.5 pounds, his largest redfish, also a Maine state trophy at 2.75 pounds and one of the largest pollock of the Bunny Clark season weighing 21.5 pounds, all while using "something" with bait on it. Nice going, Ray!

    Most Aces: For those who don't know, an angler scores an ace when he or she lands the three (or more) largest fish during a single trip. There can be no ties in fish size with other anglers in order to achieve true "ace" status. There were three anglers who qualified for an ace last season (this is about normal for a season). The first and best was caught by Tim Williams during the June 5, 2008 marathon fishing trip. On that trip he went one better and caught a "double ace", the four largest fish of the trip. His fish included a 21.5 pound pollock, a 16.5 pound cod which he tagged & released alive, a pollock of 15 pounds and another pollock of 15 pounds. The second ace occurred during the July 5, 2008 full day trip with Captain Ian Keniston. On that trip, Art Kemler, Jr. (PA) caught a 12.5 pound pollock, an 11.5 pound pollock and an 11 pound cod as the three largest fish of the trip. The third ace was caught by fellow avid cyclist John "Buzz" Leonard (ME) during the extreme day trip of August 25, 2008. His three largest fish for the trip included a 17 pound pollock, a 14 pound cod and a 14 pound pollock.

    Most Trophy Fish (including hake over 15 pounds, cod & pollock over 20 pounds and monkfish over 10 pounds) of the Season: Dan Kelley caught the most with a count of eighty-five, almost eleven percent of the total trophy count caught on the Bunny Clark last season. Tim Williams was second with a count of fifty. Dick Lyle was third with twenty-four counters.

    Most Trophy Fish during a Trip: Tim Williams caught ten trophies on July 22, 2008, nine of which were between 23 and 33 pounds. Dave MacDonald (MA) and Steve Selmer (NH) tied with the second most trophy fish (seven) for a trip. Dan Kelley, Jon Tesnakis (NY) and Dan Kelley (again) tied for the third most trophies for a trip with a six count.

    Most Pools (largest fish of the trip): Tim Williams landed the largest fish of the trip six times. Dan Kelley, Ray Johnson (NH), Jay O'Connor (ME) and thirteen year old Sam Robichaud (FL) landed the second most pools with a count of four each. Shawn Rosenberger (PA) landed the largest fish of the trip on three different occasions.

    High Hook: Tim Williams was high hook (the most legal fish on a trip) at least thirteen times (trips) that we know of. Dan Kelley was second in this category with nine counts that we know of. Frank Noble (ME) and Ray Johnson were third tying at eight counts each - that we are sure of.

    [The picture on the right is a shot of Jim Lennon (NY) holding his 24.5 pound pollock caught during a September offshore marathon trip in 2008.]

    Hardest Luck: One day that stands out in my mind as a mixture of good luck followed by hard luck was on June 24, 2008 when fourteen year old Alec Levine hooked a bluefin tuna of about 150 pounds with a jig stick. Alec fought the fish perfectly for forty-five minutes to bring the fish to gaff. When the fish reached the surface we could see that the fish was hooked by the skin on the side by the fly that (before he had started fishing) had been located over two feet above the jig on his line. The tuna had taken the jig in the mouth initially but had caught the fly in its side during the fight and had caused the jig to bust off. We got within two feet of gaffing the fish before it took, what seemed like, a dying run only to get caught in some gill net gear on the bottom! Alec fought this fish (or gill net) for forty-five minutes more before breaking the line! Certainly a heart breaker!

    Tim Conant (MA) had a bad year last year. He never did catch many, if any, legal fish on any trip he attended. His worst day, his first day, was a marathon trip on May 20, 2008. He didn't catch a single fish until the very end of the day when he was observed taking a seven inch sub-legal cod off his line. This in the face of one of his best friends, Chris Porter (MA), who was high hook with twenty plus legal fish (including a 6 pound haddock) and loads of good advice that, had Tim listened, would have helped!

    Greg Johnson (NH) is truly a wonderful individual and a good fisherman. So, it was with some dismay, for me, that when it was time to leave for the marathon trip that morning last fall, Greg was nowhere to be found. Turns out that Greg got the times mixed up. He booked a hotel room the night before, followed through with a nice dinner along with his significant other, got to bed early and showed up at the dock the next morning fifteen minutes or more after the Bunny Clark had left for the fishing grounds. He wasn't even early enough to see the lights of the boat disappearing off the horizon!

    Most Improved Angler: It took a while to cement in my mind just who would be most deserving of this award. Even though Steve Levine is technically a good angler, I believe he fits in this category. He fished on party boats (mostly the Bunny Clark) for six years, never catching a fish larger than 13 pounds. We used to joke about the curse of the "13", as so many of his fish were just that size or smaller! Finally, on June 17, 2008, the curse was lifted when he boated a 28.5 pound Maine state trophy white hake. This seemed to open a floodgate of big fish. His next big fish was caught on July 1, 2008, a 46 pound Maine state trophy cod, the fifth largest cod of the Bunny Clark fishing season! After this day he caught Maine state trophy hake of 30, 27.5, 35.5 and 26 pounds as well and cod and pollock up to 15 pounds with regularity. I don't know what you fixed, Steve, but if you package it, I could certainly sell it. I would even be willing to see you half!

    Missing: Dennis LaValley (MA), the originator of the Lavjig, never made it on the Bunny Clark for the second season in a row. There were just too many things going on in his business and at home. We certainly wish him luck but, mostly, we wish him here! He remains my biggest donor supporting my bicycle ride in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, trying to find a cure for cancer. Maybe if Merv Murphy (NH) would challenge him with that 51 pound cod, we might get a glimpse of that super fisherman on the old "Bunny".

    [The picture on the left shows Chris Porter holding his 20.75 pound Maine state trophy monkfish caught on an offshore marathon trip the last day of October 2008. ]

    Best Team: Tim Conant & Wobby Barnes (MA) fished together on a marathon trip in the fall. As a matter of fact, they fished so close together, it was as if they were joined at the hip. Of course, they may have enjoyed each others company but they suffered for it as the ensuing tangles were just horrific and they caught few fish. The only time the tangles stopped was when Wobby decided to get up, go to the forecastle and take a bunk!

    Exceptional Good Luck: I would say that this following experience was more the case of the good getting lucky. This kind of luck just doesn't happen unless you are good. I'm referring to the marathon trip of October 8, 2008. Tim Williams fished for most of the trip that day with not nearly the great landings he is known for. As a matter of fact, he remained an unknown for most of the day. However, no truer words were ever spoken when someone said; "It's not over until it's over". With ten minutes left to go in the trip, Tim caught, first, a 28 pound Maine state trophy white hake and then, just as soon as he got his line to bottom, he hooked into a 28.5 pound Maine state trophy cod which, of course, he landed. The cod was the largest cod of the season for Tim and the two fish were the two biggest fish of the trip winning him the only two pools that were offered on the boat that day!

    Biggest Double: Al Goodlunas (PA) and Tom Walsh (NJ) tied for the largest double keeper catch (two fish caught on the same line at the same time) of the 2008 fishing season. Al's double included a 32.5 pound Maine state trophy white hake and a 28.5 pound Maine state trophy white hake caught in mid October. Tom's included a 34 pound Maine state trophy white hake and a 27 pound Maine state trophy white hake caught in early November. [In fact, Tom had fished with me for years and had never caught a single trophy fish on any trip. The day of the big double he also caught the largest redfish of his life, a 2 pound Maine state trophy, and he also caught another trophy hake of 29 pounds!] The third largest double was caught by Bob Smith (NJ) in June. His double included a 33 pound Maine state trophy white hake and a 26 pound Maine state trophy white hake. Gregg Rothermel (NE) came in fourth with a double that included a 30 pound Maine state trophy white hake and a 20.5 pound white hake. Abe Gadjo (NY) came in fifth with a double that included two pollock of exactly 20.5 pounds each!

    Note: Marc Pagnozzi (CT) landed the most double keeper catches of the year (for a single trip) on May 22, 2008. His actual count was fourteen; his best double that day included a 10.5 pound cod and a 16 pound pollock.

    Quote of the Year: "Well, [Captain] Ian did something that you have never done for me before!" a quote from Fred Kunz to me shortly after the boat got back from one of Captain Ian's extreme day fishing trips which Fred had just attended. Fred always seems to find some salient redeeming feature of a trip that he is on when I am not the captain and, obviously, not there. This quote has been well used by Fred over the years to me referencing every captain that has run the boat for him in my absence. Luckily for me he has never come off the boat and said; "This trip sucked!" with the possible exception of a trip I captained for him in April 1992!

    [The picture on the right shows Dave MacDonald holding his 2 pound Maine state trophy redfish caught during the ultra marathon invitational, mid July 2008.]

    "It was big." This is a quote from Captain Ian Keniston who had been working the deck for Captain Tim (me) on a marathon trip in October. Jon Tesnakis (NY) had a big fish on but, as is typical of Jon, he didn't want to get everyone excited (call for the gaff) before he saw exactly what he had on his line. When he did, he also realized that there was a big blue shark right behind the tail of this big pollock he had on the line. Ian got a look at the fish but nowhere near in time to rescue Jon's fish from the jaws of this hungry shark. I got his quote after I asked him how big the pollock actually was, as Jon was acting hugely disappointed. Knowing that Ian is incapable of prevarication and also knowing that overstatement is not in his nature, I would say that the pollock was probably over 30 pounds or one of the biggest of the year - had it been weighed!

    Most Unusual Catch: Arnie Buza (NJ), an excellent fisherman who has had a few blue sharks "by the balls" [his quote] over the years, hooked on to a bluefin tuna while jigging for cod in early October (on the second stop of the morning). He broke the fish off before I had a chance to see what was going on because he "didn't want a blue shark to take all his line." Much later that same trip, Arnie took a cast off the bow only to have another bluefin take his jig and go screaming aft with his line. The surface tension was so great on the line that the line parted again, this time without Arnie's help. Fifteen minutes later on this same drift, Iggy Goula (PA - Little Fred's buddy) hooked into his broken line and got his jig back! Apparently, the tuna had shaken the jig out of its mouth shortly after Arnie's line had broken off and we were just lucky to be drifting in the right direction!

    Unexplained Phenomena:

  • Is Vernon Broadus (PA) that good a fisherman or does being related to Snoop Dog have its benefits when landing cod of 34.5 pounds?
  • Terry Robinson (MA) went back to catching fish after getting skunked on a marathon the season before. I expected as much. He really is a good fisherman!
  • Al Hanson (MA) losing the largest cod of the year on the same day that Steve gets the big one? Who would have believed it? You could have asked Chip Moore (MA) had he been on that trip.
  • Dave "Duke" Symes (ME) took a trip in May and didn't catch a single legal fish. Three days later Duke is high hook fishing along side some of the best anglers I take on the boat!
  • Nebraska Dick Smith (NE) may think twice about having hats specially made for posing with big trophies this coming season. I'm not a big believer in the whammy but the hats didn't do much for his fishing success last year!
  • Gary Kern (ME) gets seasick while reading about a bad weather prediction on the day he is supposed to participate as an angler on the Bunny Clark? Now, that's projection!
  • And what's this I heard about brother John kicking Tim Novine's (NY) pool fish over the side? Sibling rivalry perhaps?
  • After three season's without a word, one of our best former B.C. anglers, Regis Jauvin (QC), returns (in June), only to disappear again without a trace!
  • And Bob Nixon (NH), trophy catcher extraordinaire, lived up to this billing in the fall but on his first trophy hunt (The Bunny Clark's first trophy hunt of the season), Bob got skunked - for trophies - while everyone else kicked his proverbial tail! Maybe I just dreamed that Bob was on the boat that day!
  • Do you suppose some big fat cod is wearing your $300.00 sun glasses? You could pose that question to Marco Morin (ME).
  • Jim "Sparkling Jig Feather" Brown (ME) brings bananas aboard, causes one of his best friends, Jim LeMay (ME), to lose the big one on the surface and then holds his better half, Erica, responsible for packing his lunch.
  • Jay O'Connor (ME), our second most improved fisherman last season, almost cuts his thumb off when a loop of his Spectra line gets caught on the digit during a particularly hard cast. If not for the nail, the thumb tip would probably be gone!
  • Banana man Christian Swenson (MA)? Need I say more?
  • I want Adam Theriault (ME) right at my side if we ever get into the blue sharks again. What a shark wrangler! We could bend a few gaffs together!
  • And last but not least, young Sam Andrus (España) tries to impress his friends by biting the head off a small pollock. When the blood squirted all over his face he was quick to join his other buddies hurling over the rail. Nice!

    The nuts and bolts of running the Bunny Clark day in and day out has been a big task since I launched the boat in 1983. I ran the boat every day until 1996 when I elicited help by sharing the captaincy. Then my concerns changed to include my children who were born in 1993 and 1994. I decided to also work as a manager at my father's restaurant in Perkins Cove, Barnacle Billy's, Inc. This gave me the time to work the boat and run the Bunny Clark business, help our family business and have some time to be with my own family and kids. The Bunny Clark business became more proficient without me as the primary captain and mate's position became more refined. At this point, I have established a level of consistency I never thought I would attain without my direct involvement. To this end I have to thank, with all my heart, the efforts of Captain Ian Keniston (my right hand), Jared Keniston (my best mate) and Captain Tom Corbett, my summer Sunday captain. With them, I have a business I have become very proud of with many successes every year. Without them, it would be just another fishing boat. Thank you very much, my great crew, you are the very best!

    [Left; a digital image of Fred Kunz holding his double keeper catch of cod caught on the August 28, 2008 marathon trip. The larger cod weighs 17.75 pounds while the other weighs 11.5 pounds.]

    Before I end this letter, I want to thank those behind the scenes individuals who keep the business going while we are out fishing. I am talking about our shore captains and the Admiral herself, my wife, Debbie Tower, without whom I could not do this. Renée Stevens, our second in command, works for us in the winter, helps us keep the computers running, crunches many of the numbers for the newsletter and the books, works the phone and is certainly our best asset behind Deb. Jane Staples spends more time than anyone on the phone, talking to customers and there to meet the boat most of the time - as well as working on the business computer at home. My neighbor since we were kids, Jane has always been available to do things, seemingly, at a moments notice. I appreciate her good humor and all her good work.

    Of our reservationists, we welcomed Alison Carey (MA), my daughter, Halley Tower and Katie Graichen (ME) back, Alison for her fourth season, Halley for her third and Katie for her second. We are very happy with these special ladies/individuals, their work ethic, their trustworthiness and their ability to work well with our customers (and with us). Thanks so much.

    We included Eliza Jacobs (ME), a school mate of Halley's, on the list of reservationists last season and I'm glad we did. She worked really well for us and our customers last year and I truly hope she is with us again this season.

    I am happy to be able to report that Renée, Jane and Halley will be on board this upcoming season ready to welcome the guests and help us run the business. The other girls will let us know if they will be coming back by March 1st.

    This was the second year of my riding in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, an 192 mile two day cycling event in August to raise money for cancer research and care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts through the Jimmy Fund. Although not really a part of this Guestletter, most of the money that was contributed for this fund raiser came from you, my loyal Bunny Clark anglers. For this I am very grateful and appreciative - knowing, also, that this is much bigger than me. Through a whole year of donations, I was able to raise $26, 625.00 towards the cause. Dennis & Diane LaValley, of Lavjig fame, gave the most with total for last year of $2,500.00. However, they have supported me both years and have already donated $1,500.00 towards this year's ride. To me, putting the money into the DFCI is a "no brainer" as it is rated the number two cancer research facility in the country, one hundred percent of your donation goes directly to the cause, I have first hand knowledge of the wonderful work they do and the Institute is located in our own back yard! This takes a lot of my personal time both in paperwork and in physical training but I feel that the benefits to those with the disease more than out weighs the time it takes me being involved. And, of course, I am rewarded by those hundreds of people on the road thanking us during the ride. Thank you so much for your support.

    From left to right: Yours Truly, Bryant Mitchell, my niece, Abby Mitchell and, my inspiration and best friend, Paul Haseltine. The shot was taken by Steve LaPlante (who has driven from home twice to see us off at the start of this great event) at 5:00 AM, August 2, 2008.

    So ends another Guestletter which also means the beginning of a new season. This missive wouldn't be complete without thanking the very individuals who fuel this business and who make it so enjoyable for us day in and day out. As I've said many times before, without you we couldn't do this. Nor would it be nearly as much fun without all of you. So, thank you again for another wonderful year. I will be very much looking forward to seeing you all this coming season!

    The Bunny Clark's First Barn Door Skate

    The picture above shows Rick Gelaznik (MA) holding the first barn door skate (about 20 pounds in weight) the Bunny Clark has ever seen. A quick picture of this fish was taken by Captain Ian Keniston and then the fish was released back to the ocean alive. This picture was taken during the October 4, 2008 full day trip.

    If you want to send me e-mail, the current address is The general email address is

    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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