The 2010 Bunny Clark Guestletter

Tim Tower's annual primer on the 2009 Bunny Clark fishing season

January 20, 2010

Dear Guests:

Another season ends as a new one begins. And unexpected things happen as you prepare for the next one. During the U. S. Coast Guard hull inspection late in November 2008 I was told I would have to address the osmotic hull blistering that had been documented with the Bunny Clark's hull skin for eighteen years. This blistering under the gel coat on fiberglass boats is particularly prevalent in vessels built with the older type of fire retardant resins. I believed this to be cosmetic only and not a structural thing that might compromise the safety of my passengers.

[The image on the left is a shot of the largest bluefin tuna that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark with conventional cod fishing gear. The tuna weighed 365 pounds. It was caught by Paul McCullough (NH - the angler to the left of the fish in the picture) on the July 17, 2009 full day trip. The captain was Ian Keniston (shown middle in the picture) and the deck hand was Jared Keniston (shown right). ]

The USCG wasn't sure so the order was given to take off several fiberglass layers to find where the problem stopped. Otherwise, the USCG would not allow my boat to continue taking passengers. So, in the worst economic time the Bunny Clark and I have seen, I decided to borrow thousands of dollars to take three layers of fiberglass off the outer hull, build the three layers back, fair the hull, barrier coat it and gel coat the outside. This was a huge financial undertaking and a big challenge for the time needed to complete the project.

They say heros pop up when you least expect them. So it was that Tom Allen from Kittery Point Yacht Yard approached me with a plan that would allow me to get the project completed within a hundred yards of the spot where the USCG inspection was conducted and only a twenty minute drive from home. His plan included a heated isolated bay where the boat would reside. Not only were the two best boat people I know going to be able to work there on the job but Tom also allowed Ian Keniston and Jared Keniston to work there as well through the winter. Their focus was to complete the boat's cosmetic work before the start of the fishing season. I don't believe that I would have been presented with as wonderful an opportunity at any other yard on the planet. Not only that, but Tom (recognizing this as an unexpected emergency) was willing to work with me on material prices, allow me to use my own venders (when appropriate) and arrange times so that both winter projects could proceed in an orderly, timely fashion.

I accepted Tom's proposal. Not only did the project go off as planned, it was completed exactly on time. And the hull job itself was completed perfectly. Also, being allowed to inspect the job as it was proceeding, being able to have my opinions recognized and knowing every second that my best interests were at heart is just priceless. You can't put a dollar value on this kind of peace of mind. The job turned out to be expensive, yes, but it came well under budget - which helped my relationship with the bank - and allowed me to seamlessly work into the fishing season as if it were just another minor project in a winter of getting the Bunny Clark ready. It is clear to me now that I wouldn't have been able to do this without the honest help of Tom Allen, his Kittery Point Yacht Yard, David Pease, Vic Togliatti, Ian Keniston and Jared Keniston. Thank you all so very much. But a special thanks to you, Tom, for allowing this to happen.

Following the launch of the "new" Bunny Clark, the fishing season started out exceptionally well, flowed into the best fish catching year we have experienced in fifteen seasons and ended with an extremely successful fall. The weather in April, our starting month, was very much better than expected. May was also very good. June, July and early August rained more than expected. Passenger count dropped a bit during these three months but not as badly as I had expected with the poor economy. The first two months and the last three months of the season, we carried the normal complement of anglers we usually carry during that same time period.

The season was very non-aggressive weather wise as compared to other years. We were influenced by only one hurricane (Bill) sliding by well off shore. Fifteen total days were canceled during the season with more than half of those days dropped because of an incorrect weather forecast that I believed to be true. So, in actuality, five days were canceled because the seas were too rough to go. We lost only one day to mechanical failure (a helm unit went down on the way to the fishing grounds). Although I would have wished it to be a dryer early summer, the lack of hurricanes in our area and the great fishing made it a year I would love to repeat.

We were surprised at the beginning of the season to be greeted by larger than normal schools of bait fish. At the start, this was mostly big sea herring but, as the season progressed, small mackerel, various small clupeids and skipjacks were also part of the mix. More importantly, the bait fish stayed on the fishing grounds for the whole season. I believe this to be the largest contributor to our better fishing and the extraordinary fish diversity we experienced. There were more halibut than in previous years. The larger pollock schools that we saw in 2008 were back (and larger) with more individuals over 20 pounds than in recent years. Haddock could be found everywhere with specific places we could go to target them specifically. Legal cod were available in big numbers at different times during the season but could be found at any time of the year. We had a longer run for the steaker cod.

In the warmer months it was almost an every day routine that, at some point during the trip, we would get a tuna hookup. Most of these fish were lost (the equipment didn't match the fish) but some turned into successful duals. By mid season the hake showed up and, when they did, they could be found in all depths of water in greater numbers than any of the last ten years. Albeit, most of these fish were small but we also had a wonderful year on the big ones too. All the other fish were about the same as they have been with the exception of the wolffish which, for us, was down to the lowest level in catch rate that we have ever seen. And although the fishing isn't as good as it was when I first started taking anglers out in the mid '70s, the fishery certainly looks like it's heading in that direction. This has me very excited for the 2010 fishing season.

With the good there is always some bad. In our case I'm talking of the dogfish. We had more this year than other years. I expect their abundance had a direct correlation to the increased bait fish populations, the same reason our fishing was so good. The dogfish didn't arrive in force until June 27th but they stayed until our last trip of the season. Most of the time we could work around the dogfish but there were other times that challenged our abilities as patient stewards of the fishery.

[The shot on the lower right shows fifteen-year-old Micah Tower (ME), my son, holding a 7 pound female lobster. This digital image wasn't taken on the Bunny Clark but while lobstering on the Petrel, my lobster boat. Micah and I lobster together all summer between the Bunny Clark and Barnacle Billy's restaurants. ]

Fall brought more blue sharks than we have seen in the last five years. When active, the blue sharks can be a real problem. They bother anglers by attacking and eating the good fish that are being brought up on a line. In so doing, they also break off many fishing rigs and jigs. Again, we were able to work around these sharks most of the time. Our worst day saw a loss of twenty-six jigs to those bright blue devils. The Bunny Clark record is sixty-seven jigs lost during an offshore trip, recorded in the late '80s or early '90s.

Except for the previously mentioned hull work, we had no significant improvements of a nature worth mentioning. Many of the fishing equipment improvements were developed before last season and have been adopted and employed on a regular basis. We continue to work with Saco Bay Tackle Company in Saco, Maine and with Kay at Surfland Bait & Tackle Company in Plum Island (Newbury), Massachusetts for our custom made signature fishing rods (jig sticks mostly) and some fishing tackle. And our jig of choice has become the 16 ounce Lavjig ( for inquiries). We are still using the Izorline 65 pound test white Spectra line along with Cortland's yellow 65 pound test Master Braid. We have had great success with these two lines. We have tested most of the other braids available and find these to be the best. All our rods are custom built and designed (or built and designed) by me. Our reels range from the Penn 113H to the Penn Baja Special and several models of the Nixon Machine modified Pro Gear reels. What might be new for this year is the expert ability of Ian Keniston and Jared Keniston to diagnose problems with these reels and eliminate them in the rebuilding. At this point, there might not be another person on the planet who can do as good a job. There was a time when I thought I was the seer of the reel. Not anymore.

We are not planning any major renovations this winter for the Bunny Clark. I am comfortable in bringing the Bunny Clark back to cosmetic perfection and functionality as it was last spring when we started. Nor are we introducing any new fishing gear or fishing gear modifications. I expect to be better prepared for the upcoming fishing season than any previous season.

Our website at continues to be the location where you can get information about the Bunny Clark operation on a daily basis during the season and off-season. We have a schedule and rates section, a photo section, a world records section and more. Our fishing update section provides anglers with up to date information on the daily catch, fish sizes, daily weather, angler deeds and fishery management information. 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.

Our tagging program remains barely alive and well. The desire is still there. When there are good fish to tag, most times it's too busy to take the time to embrace the program. Still, last season we tagged and released forty-seven legal cod from 8 pounds to 35.25 pounds back to the ocean alive. Dan Kelley (ME) tagged the most with a total count of seventeen cod from 8 to 22 pounds. Second was Tim Williams (CT) with five cod from 10 to 35.25 pounds. Third was Ron Roy (NH) with cod of 8 pounds, 15.5 pounds and 17.5 pounds. Some of the better sized cod that were tagged and released included a 32 pounder by Bryan Lewer (FL), a 34 pounder by Dick Lyle (PA), a 19 pounder by Dan Wescom (VT), an 18 pounder by David MacDonald (MA), a 24 pounder and a 25 pounder by Marc Pagnozzi (CT), a 14.5 pounder by Leon Hadley (NH), a 15 pounder by Sam Robichaud (FL/ME), an 18.5 and a 26.5 pounder by Ken Foss (ME), a 21.5 pound cod by Marc Bellaud (MA), a 17.5 pounder by Louis Bellaud, a 29 pounder by Gloria Gennari (MA) and a 25.5 pound cod by me (Tim Tower) after I took an errant cast and lucked into a good fish with Tino Ferro's (NY) unused rod & reel! Tino was napping at the time!.

In addition, we had many anglers who released legal cod alive on a regular basis. These are the anglers who believe in the conservation aspects of the fishery. I'm not going to list everyone who released fish as it would take up too much space in this Guestletter. However, I will highlight some of the better releases (most voluntary and some not so voluntary) of the 2009 fishing season.

[The shot on the left shows Dick Lyle (ME) holding the second largest tagged cod, his cod, of the 2009 Bunny Clark season just before release. The fish has already been tagged, the tag itself on the side that isn't showing in the picture.]

Dan Kelley probably released the most with a count of 116 legal cod during the cod possession season (April 1 - November 1). Dan also lost (long line release) approximately thirty-six steaker (over 20 pounds) cod for the season - which may be a boat record. In addition, he lost a cod on the surface that would probably have been 25 pounds. A good long line release was had by Paul "Chico" Astorino (MA) who thought he was shaking his jig off the bottom. He got his jig back without the fish! And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the 25 pound cod that Steve Haisley (VT) lost (it broke his jig off, rolling next to the boat) because I was looking for a better gaff shot! And then there was that big fish maven, Nick Guerra (MA), where we only saw the big green lume of the cod before the fish disappeared back into the gloom!

Although I didn't get a weight on it, the largest released cod (that we know for sure) weighed over 60 pounds and was lost, again, right next to the boat (but just too far away to gaff) by Glen Stadnick (CT). This would have been our biggest cod of the season. To say we rode Glen like a rented mule for the rest of the trip (about his loss) would be an understatement!

The largest legitimately voluntarily released cod was a 52 pound Maine state trophy by Matt Miller (NH). This was also the largest boated cod of our fishing season. The second largest cod released was a 47 pound Maine state trophy cod by Tim Williams. This fish tied for the fifth largest cod of the Bunny Clark season. The picture of this fish appears further down in this Guestletter.

We only had one tag return last season. The tagged fish was caught on June 4, 2009 somewhere around Platts Bank by a commercial dragger, the Theresa Irene III out of Portland, Maine. The cod was "large" and measured 38.25 inches. I suspect this fish probably weighed 25 pounds more or less. It was tagged and released almost exactly a year earlier on the northern end of Jeffrey's Ledge (fifteen or more miles away) on June 5, 2008 by Tim Williams. At that time, the cod weighed 16.5 pounds and was 36.5 inches long.

On June 26, 2008, twelve year old Reece Dinofsky (FL) caught a white hake that registered at 40 pounds 6.6 ounces on an official scale ashore (our local USPS). This weight shattered the weight of the existing Maine State Junior Angler hake record of 35.2 pounds caught by thirteen year old Alec Levine while fishing the Bunny Clark on July 4, 2007. At this time, there is no word on the status of Reece's fish. Stand by!

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

[The digital image on the right shows thirteen year old Finn Swenson holding the largest groundfish of his life, a 37 pound Maine state trophy white hake which he caught during the Summer of the 2009 Bunny Clark fishing season. Had not Reece's hake been caught in the 2008 season, Finn's fish would have been a contender for the Maine (male) Junior Angler State Record.]

At the time of this writing, the new recreational fishing regulations for the 2010 fishing season (the fiscal calendar year starts May 1st) are well established. As the rules exist until May 1, we have a 24 inch length limit on cod, a 19 inch limit on pollock, an 18 inch limit on haddock, a 9 inch limit on redfish and a 38 inch limit on halibut. There is no limit on hake and cusk. There is also a ten fish bag limit on cod and a seasonal closure for cod possession from November 1st to April 15, 2010. And regulated fish can not be skinned at sea. For the 2010 season, it will be much the same except that on May 1, 2010, we will be able to skin regulated fish fillets at sea and there will be a prohibition on the possession of wolffish. Also, the state of Maine is talking about further limiting the halibut size from 38 inches (mirroring the Federal limit) to 41 inches and maintaining a seasonal limit of five halibut a year. As of this writing, this is only a proposal with hearing dates set for mid winter 2010.

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 2009 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 (the same way it has been done since our first fishing trip on the Bunny Clark in May 1983). 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


Paul McCullough (NH)

Bluefin Tuna 365

87.5 X 58


Tom Murphy (VT)

Bluefin Tuna 52

43.25 (length)


[The picture on the right shows Jon Tesnakis (NY) holding his 5.5 pound wrymouth, the largest of it's species ever caught on the Bunny Clark.]

Rand Richards (ME)

Redfish 3.5

18 X 14


Kenton Geer (HI)

Redfish 3.5

17.25 X 15


Kenton Geer (HI)

Redfish 3.0


Al Munichiello (NH)

Redfish 3.0

16 X 15


Jim Sylvester (ME)

Redfish 2.75

17.5 X 13


Joe Jarosz (MA)

Redfish 2.75

17.25 X 14


Tony Mazziotti (NY)

Monkfish 26

39 (length)


Fred Tardie (MA)

Monkfish 15.5


Tim Williams (CT)

Monkfish 11.5


Mark LaRocca (NY)

Monkfish 6*


Mike White (CT)

Wolffish 20

41 X 20


Mark LaRocca (NY)

Wolffish 19

37 X 20


Don Duquette (MA)

Wolffish 18.5

36 X 22


Cliff Gaulin, III (MA)

Wolffish 17.5

37 X 21


James Rumsey (PA)

Wolffish 16.5

38 X 20


Jim Blais (ME)

Wolffish 16.5

34.5 X 21


[Tony Mazziotti (NY) can be seen, right, holding the only Maine state trophy monkfish of the 2009 Bunny Clark fishing season. It weighed 26 pounds.]

Chris Kruger (MA)

Pollock 28.5

41.5 X 23


Ed Kondratowicz (NY)

Pollock 27.5

42 X 23


Louis Bellaud (NH)

Pollock 26.5

41 X 25


Mike White (CT)

Pollock 25.75

41 X 22.5


Chris Franklin (ME)

Pollock 25


Dick Lyle (ME)

White Hake 46

48 X 33


Bryan Lewer (FL)

White Hake 44.5

48.5 X 31


Jay O'Connor (ME)

White Hake 44

48.25 X 32


Jay O'Connor (ME)

White Hake 42.5


Jerry LeBaron (NY)

White Hake 42

49 X 34


[John Keenan (MA), right, holding his 23 pound pound pollock caught on a fall marathon trip.]

Michael Wolchesky (CT)

Haddock 12

30.5 X 19


Stephen Hanby (MA)

Haddock 9.5

28.5 X 17


Chuck Pedro (CT)

Haddock 9.5

27.5 X 17


Tim Williams (CT)

Haddock 9

26 X 16


Remington Walls (MD)

Haddock 8.5

28 X 16


Vernon Broadus (PA)

Haddock 8.5

26.5 X 18


Dave Gray (VT)

Cusk 23

39 X 21


Dan Kelley (ME)

Cusk 21

40 X 20


Capt. Kenton Geer (HI)

Cusk 17.25

33.5 X 21


Ken Selmer (NH)

Cusk 16.5

35 X 20


Larry Reed (ME)

Cusk 15

33 X 19


Matt Miller (NH)

Cod 52*

50 (length)


Greg Fitzgerald (NY)

Cod 51

50.5 X 31


Shawn Rosenberger (PA)

Cod 51

48.5 X 32


Shane Anderson (MA)

Cod 49

48 X 32


Jay Kennedy (VT)

Cod 47

51 X 30


Tim Williams (CT)

Cod 47*

50 (length)


Steven Courtemache (MA)

Cod 47

48 X 32


[Mike Mokrzycki (MA) is holding a barn door skate by the tail in this picture taken in August 2009. At 26 pounds, it is the largest of its species ever caught on the Bunny Clark.]

Mike Mokrzycki (MA)

Barn Door Skate 26

released alive


Tom Miller (NH)

Halibut 12



Rich Tambling (MA)

Halibut 10*



Tom Shedrick (VT)

Halibut 2*



Jon Tesnakis (NY)

Wrymouth 5.5*

36.5 (length)


* These fish were released back to the ocean alive.

  • Tim Williams and Capt. Kenton Geer appeared the most in the top five season trophy list with three fish each. The difference, besides species, was that Capt. Kenton caught his three fish on one trip!

  • At eighteen inches caliper fork length, Rand Richards' big redfish is the longest redfish we have landed in fifteen years. In the printed Guestletter going out via USPS, I sited Capt. Kenton as having the longest redfish. I have corrected that mistake here!

  • Michael "Dugan" Wolchesky's 12 pound haddock is the largest haddock that has been caught on the Bunny Clark in five seasons. It ties for the fourth largest haddock caught all time on the Bunny Clark. Fred Dutcher (NH) in 1993, Chris Savarie (NY) in 1991 and Patricia Schreppel (NY) in 1984 also caught haddock of 12 pounds on the Bunny Clark.

  • Dick Lyle's 46 pound hake with Dan Kelley's 46 pound hake caught in 2007 are the two largest hake that have been landed on the Bunny Clark since Jim Mailea (MA) boated his 49 pounder in 2003. The two 46 pound hake come in fifth as some of the largest hake caught on the Bunny Clark since 1986. The existing IGFA all tackle world record for the white hake at this time is 46 pounds registered on shore weight and caught initially as a 51 pounder by John Audet (ME) on the Bunny Clark in the fall of 1986.

  • Mike Mokrzycki's barn door skate is, officially, the largest of its species caught on the Bunny Clark. During the 2008 fishing season, Rick Gelaznik (MA) caught one probably over 20 pounds but it was never actually weighed before it was released.

  • Paul McCullough's tuna is the largest bluefin that has ever been caught by conventional groundfish tackle on the Bunny Clark. In fact, I don't know of another tuna as large caught with a "cod rod" in New England! Paul's fish was hooked while working a 16 Lavjig on the bottom targeting cod. He was using one of our own Merv series (Saco Bay Tackle Company) jig sticks with a Penn Baja Special reel and 65 pound test Izorline Spectra line. The fish was brought to gaff in thirty-one minutes, certainly a remarkably short time for a tuna of that size. Ian Keniston was the captain running one of our full day trips that day. The second largest bluefin caught via "cod rod" on the Bunny Clark was one of 208 pounds landed by Emile Gallant (ME) in 2001 with Captain Adam Bissell during an afternoon half day trip. Dave Henderson's (MA) 158.5 pound bluefin tuna is the Bunny Clark's third largest bluefin tuna. I was the captain running the marathon trip when it was caught in 2008. There have been a total of seventeen bluefins caught with conventional groundfish tackle since Floyd Raymond (NH) caught our first one (an 89 pounder) in 1994.

  • Jon Tesnakis' wrymouth is, officially, the largest wrymouth that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark and the only one that has been landed here for a few years. I know of only five that have ever been caught on the Bunny Clark.

  • Mike White boated his 20 pound wolffish and his 25.75 pound pollock, both Maine state trophies, on the same trip. The pollock is the largest pollock that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark in April and the only trophy pollock we have ever seen in April. His wolffish is the second largest wolffish we have seen in four seasons.

  • All the halibut that were hooked (and boated - thanks a lot, Dick Lyle!) were too small to keep.

    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 2009 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): Tim Williams regains his title again for the 2009 season after losing it to Dan Kelley in the previous one. This is the fifth time that Tim has earned this title, the most prestigious honor we bestow here at Bunny Clark Deep Sea Fishing. This makes him the second most tenured angler in this category, only one award shy of Fred Kunz who has been the man six times. Initially, Tim led Dan Kelley, his closest competitor, for this title by exactly 50 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 this year but, as a courtesy to Dan, I decided to see what the outcome would be if I did. Tim ended up taking Dan by 11 points (57 - 46), this in over twenty trips fishing side by side. I even recalculated the results by taking out the high hook category. Tim still came out ahead, cementing my decision for FY-'09.

    [The picture on the right is a shot of none other than that wonderful fisherman, Tim Williams, holding his 47 pound Maine state trophy cod. He caught this for my birthday, that dear boy. It couldn't have been a better present. And to show his respect towards me, he released this fish back to the ocean alive after this one picture was taken. ]

    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. Tim was consistently the best or one of the best anglers last season. I think Tim's belief in himself is the one thing that propels him to the top or nearly so every year. This year was particularly tough for Tim as he had back problems. His recovery period eliminated him from the best trip of the season, the Ultra Marathon, and every trip between the spring and middle fall. Tim scored his most points in the fall when his physical condition was much better. During this time, he caught two (out of his three) of the top five in the years top species list, he scored an ace, he took the lion's share of the boat pools, high hook became the norm and his trophy list expanded exponentially. He just seemed to have the magic. And that certainly was enough! Congratulations, Tim, for doing something that I didn't think you could do under the circumstances. In fact, I had assumed Dan Kelley had it all wrapped up until I put the figures together. Nice work! You are the best - at least this year!

    [The picture, upper left, is one showing Tim holding his 9 pound Maine state trophy haddock.] Tim's total point count was 233 (without CVPs). Dan Kelley took second place with a point total of 184. Shawn Rosenberger was third with 111 points. Seventeen year old Bryan Lewer came in fourth with 97 points. Gloria Gennari was fifth with 78 points. I am reminded that all five anglers fish with jigs and jig sticks. However, Tim rarely fishes with a fly over his jig. Dan never fishes with a fly. These accomplishments become even more meaningful when you consider that those who fish without that extra hook 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 fourth season in a row. There wasn't a woman even close. Besides that she was rated as our fifth best angler of the season overall. Her consistency, her fourteen trophy fish, her several boat pools, high hook status, her doubles, fisherman of the day on June 25th and her drive made it so very easy to choose her as the one. I certainly appreciate a clear leader. Congratulations!

    Best Bait Fisherman: The season before last, Ray Westermann (MA) was the easy leader. During last season I thought; "Who is going to top Ray?" As it turned out, who better to top Ray than Ray himself? It was true. Known fondly as Shameless Ray "The Pole Tossing Master Baiter" Westermann, he tweaked his gear with a special bait enhancer (not including the Smelly Jelly) and did even better than the previous season. This was particularly true with the big hake. And I have to say, when Ray was on his game, no one could beat him in the haddock and hake department. And it didn't matter the depth either. He was always there. His most memorable highlight: he beat his previous season's largest (life time best) white hake five times finally ending it at 36 pounds, a wonderful Maine state trophy 5.5 pounds larger than his 2008 season's best.

    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 four anglers who qualified for an ace last season (this is about normal). Matt Miller notched two aces last season. This is not normal for one angler. His first occurred on May 23, 2009 when he caught his double ace (the four largest fish of the trip), also the highest scoring ace of the year. His four fish were all cod and weighed 22.5, 16, 15 and 14.5 pounds during a regular full day trip. His second ace was caught on a day trip on July 4, 2009. This time his top three fish were a 21.5 pound pollock, a 17 pound cod and a 13.5 pound cod. Our "deck hand in training", fourteen year old Sam Robichaud (FL/ME), boated an ace during a full day trip on July 2, 2009. Sam's three fish included a 16 pound pollock, a 14.5 pound cod and a cod of 14 pounds. Andy Senikas (QC) scored the only ace during a sold out half day trip on July 21, 2009. His fish were all cod and weighed 8, 7 and 6.75 pounds. He was also high hook that evening with half of all the legal fish boated. The most impressive ace of the season (and the single most important event leading to his winning the FY-'09) was one by Tim Williams on the marathon trip of October 30, 2009. His three fish included a 47 pound cod, a 41.5 pound white hake and a 38 pound white hake, all Maine state trophy fish. The 47 pound cod tied for the fifth largest cod of the Bunny Clark season and the 41.5 pound hake tied as his second largest hake ever and tied (with himself) for the Bunny Clark's sixth largest hake of the season - only a half pound out of the top five list!

    [Tom Miller (NH) is the angler on the upper right holding our largest halibut of the 2009 fishing season. Alas, it was only 12 pounds and too small to keep.]

    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 forty-one. Tim Williams was second with a count of thirty-two. Bryan Lewer was third with sixteen counters.

    Most Trophy Fish during a Trip: Gator Ferschke (RI) caught the most with seven trophies on our last trip of the season, November 9, 2009, five of which were between 24 and 39 pounds. Bryan Lewer, Dan Kelley, Ray Westermann and Tim Williams tied with the second most trophy fish (six) for a trip. Dan Kelley, Jon Tesnakis (NY), Tim Williams, Dave Gray, Shawn Rosenberger, Steve Brown and Tim Williams (again - twice) tied for the third most trophies for a trip with a five count.

    Most Pools (largest fish of the trip): Tim Williams landed the largest fish of the trip five times. Matt Miller and Shawn Rosenberger landed the second most pools with a count of four each. Gloria Gennari and Ken McLaughlin 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 that we know of. Shawn Rosenberger and Dave MacDonald (MA) tied for second place in this category with six counts that we know of. Dan Kelley was third at five counts - that we are sure of. I want to reiterate, Dan doesn't use a fly. Had he used one, he would have had ten or more counts added to his total last year. This was the reason I decided to take this category out for the final decision on the FY-'09.

    Hardest Luck: Al Lundeen (MA) probably had the hardest luck this season. The night before he was to drive to Perkins Cove, he loaded his cooler, fishing gear, his boots, warm clothes and oil gear into the back of his truck. When he walked out of the house the next morning to drive to the boat, all his gear had been stolen! He showed up at the Bunny Clark with jeans and sneakers. He did borrow a pair of gloves from a friend but lost one overboard near the first fishing spot, never to be seen again!

    Mark Francis (PA) lost two really big fish last season. One, in the spring, was a cod and one that I would have given my eye teeth to get a scale on. The signature on the sounding machine was such that only several big cod over the years have come close to matching it. And two of those fish weighed 78 and 83 pounds! Alas, this wasn't his worst luck. On the morning of the October 22nd extreme day trip, Mark put his rod in its holder at a stern position. He sat down and worked on his equipment, eventually tying a jig to the line on this rod. As the boat headed out, he took cover further up near the forward bulkhead. Upon arriving at the fishing grounds, he went to use his rod but the jig and 500 hundred yards of Spectra line (at $.15/yard) were missing. Apparently, when he left his rod, he also left the reel in free spool. The jig must have dropped overboard taking all his line with it!

    [The picture on the left shows Gloria Gennari holding her double keeper catch of pollock. The bigger one weighed 22 pounds and the smaller one was 20.25 pounds, both fish caught on the same line at the same time. ]

    Hard Luck Snippets: Dick Lyle leaves New England to take a job in Penn's Woods (our loss, obviously). Nebraska Dick Smith (NE) hurls and gets only three fish during his only marathon trip of the season, an annual affair (the trip, not the hurling). Long time regular angler Don Spencer (VT) does one better and gets skunked on a marathon trip in May - the first time he has ever walked off the Bunny Clark without a fillet in twenty-seven years! Ben Labunski (SC) never lost a jig while fishing off the Bunny Clark in over twenty years, loses three in a row on a trip in late June! Merv gets spooled by a bluefin tuna! Charlie Wulfken (NY) fights with his right handed reel all day only to find on the ride back that we keep a full complement of left handed reels available for anyone who might need one! Luke Mielnicki (NY) loses one of our top five pollock on the surface and observes as it floats away - never to be seen again! Steaker Jim Strobridge (NH) picks a spring and a fall trip to fish, the two roughest trips of the year, and catches the dreaded mal de mer both times - very unusual! He did win the boat pool by default on the fall trip!

    Most Improved Angler: Steve Brown (ME) fits this category like it was made for him. Steve went from being an average very interested angler to one who makes me anxious to see what he's going to bring up next. His improvement was steady with a high hook to his credit on August 17. By the end of the season he had boated his largest cod, his largest haddock, his largest hake and the largest pollock of his life. The coup de grace came on his last trip of the year in October when he successfully predicted that he would catch his first Maine state trophy fish. He caught five that day including a 27 pound cod, two hake of 33 pounds, a 32 pound hake and a 29.5 pound hake. That same day he just missed getting a trophy haddock by a half a pound! Nice work, Steve!

    Best Team: Brian & Marian Murphy (NH) have fished with me for years and have always been the best or close to it. I haven't put them in this category for a few different Guestletters because, frankly, it would have denied me the opportunity of getting a dig in on someone for some good natured abusing. But every once and a while I have to surface, look around and come up with a serious pick. A thank you if you will for all the good service over the years. And I would say that Brian & Merv (as we all know her) have taken over the reins from Les & Linda Paul (ME). And what better a team to accept the torch from? Although most of the time Brian & Merv went on trips that I didn't captain, the trip they did go with me on, an extreme day trip, was one I love to recount. On that trip they released a total of twenty-one legal cod back to the ocean alive from 8 to 12 pounds, not quite half of their total catch. And that wasn't their best trip. Not only do they catch a lot of fish, they do it the right way and are just a pleasure to fish with besides. Thanks for being with me. You are the best!

    [Frank Meszaros (NJ), seen right, holds his 13 pound Maine state trophy cusk that he caught on the Bunny Clark in June '09.]

    Exceptional Good Luck: Jack Henke (NY) dropped his jig to bottom while on a marathon trip. Leaving his rod on a bench unattended, he walked away to do something. Shortly, a big hake grabbed the jig, pulled the rod off the bench where it caught briefly on the life rail and then shot overboard. Jack looked pale. I was concerned for Jack's feelings and for the loss of my equipment to the tune of $500.00. It must have been five or ten minutes later when Jay O'Connor (ME), fishing on the opposite corner of the stern from Jack, announced that he had caught a line! Ian Keniston and I assumed correctly that it was Jack's line with rod attached! Both of us worked with Jay, got the rod back to the surface and in the boat. We then pulled in Jack Henke's 32 pound Maine state trophy white hake!

    Most Unusual Catch: Dave Miller (MA) has a crew that charters the Bunny Clark at least two times a season. They have been the most successful charter group (landings wise) we take annually and I, for one, am very grateful for their patronage. On his fall trip last year, Dave hooked into an obviously big cod. He doesn't say much and, unless you knew Dave, it's hard to tell when he is fighting a good one. I knew and was waiting beside him, gaff at the ready. When I first got a visual on the fish and recognized it as a big cod, I also saw a huge blue shape completely cover it over. It was a big shark, the identification of which was difficult to determine. The shark was so big (wide) that when it bit the cod, Dave didn't even feel it happen. In one bite the shark took everything behind the gills leaving Dave with only the head! We got the head aboard but it wasn't like landing the whole trophy fish that it represented. The head itself weighed exactly 30 pounds, a trophy by 5 pounds. The largest cod that Dave has ever caught weighed 37 pounds. So there is no doubt in my mind that Dave would have had his biggest cod had not the shark intervened. When I think about it, I feel that we lost one of our top five cod of the season - again.

    Biggest Double: Dan Kelley caught the largest double keeper catch of the season on the last trip of the season! His catch included a 32 pound Maine state trophy white hake and 33 pound Maine state trophy white hake. One of these hake was caught on the stinger hook on the top part of the jig while the other was caught on the treble hook at the bottom end of the jig. Catching two fish on one jig is very unusual (for fish of any size) and it might have happened four other times on much smaller fish last season. Keith Hayden (MA) caught the second largest double. His catch included a 45 pound Maine state trophy cod and a 1.5 pound redfish (one fish on the jig and the other on the fly above the jig). Gloria Gennari took third with a 22 pound pollock and a 20.25 pound pollock (jig & fly as well). Ken Foss (ME) was fourth with a 26.5 pound Maine state trophy cod and a 9 pound cod. John Keenan (MA) took fifth with a 23 pound pollock and an 11.5 pound pollock.

    Most Consistent: Tom Ward (CT). Enough said!

    Memorable Quotes & Circumstances: Matt Miller pressed through the crowd of onlookers at the dock area of Perkins Cove. He was interested in being one of the first ones to sign the position book for a specific fishing spot on the Bunny Clark's upcoming trip. In order to do so, he had to get to the float. Seeing me there already, he called my name and made his way through the throngs, past guys with odd ear pieces and down to my position. "Why is this place so busy," he asked. "Is something going on?" Matt obviously had not a clue why there were so many people. "Matt," I said, "I would like to formally introduce you to the former President of the United States, my friend George H. W. Bush." Of course, the former President was only a couple feet away from me as I was helping the Secret Service push his boat off the dock. The former President was in the thros of making a timely run back to his compound in Kennebunkport. In a moment the former President took the hand of a man with his mouth so wide open that you probably could have piloted the Bunny Clark through it! Matt later told me that: "You made my day". When I asked the head of the Secret Service how Matt was able to pass through security and stand beside me he replied; "When I heard him call your name, I thought he was a friend of yours." Indeed!

    From left to right: former President George H. W. Bush, Yours Truly, former President George W. Bush, my father, Billy Tower and my best brother, Court Tower. The picture was taken by former First Lady Barbara Bush on the deck of Barnacle Billy's restaurant with my camera on August 12, 2009.

    Unexplained Phenomena:
  • Did Fred Kunz really have a big tuna on his line before he purposely broke it off or was he afraid that maybe a 30 pound bluefin was going to kick his ass in front of everyone if he didn't?
  • Sid Monitch (MA) and Gary Coughlin (NH) had to share the same fish and the boat pool on the July 12th full day trip. You see Sid's hook was is the left corner of the jaw while Gary's hook was in the exact opposite position in the jaw. That 18.5 pound cod was the biggest fish caught that day.
  • I've heard of the tall ships but have never been able to play the tourist and go see them. But I guess I didn't need to do that. We ended up intercepting the tall ship fleet at sunrise right in the middle of their run from Boston to Halifax, eighty miles off shore from Boston. All that scenery passing by during a wonderful calm day on the Ultra Marathon with some of my best anglers and good fishing. I didn't even charge them extra! Sorry you weren't there, Tim Williams & Bob Withee!
  • Don't mean to harp on this, Dick, but how big was that halibut you lost?
  • Pink training wheels? Guys, you shouldn't have. What a nice surprise!
  • I must make a note to myself to follow Chad Haney (CA) back from Perkins Parking lot, just so he doesn't get lost next time!
  • A trip during the season when Bob Mathews (NY) doesn't beat up on Ollie Bruyere (NY) in fish count? Say it isn't so!
  • I hope Santa was good to Larry Cross (NY) and brought him a new Surfland Special jig stick. Of course, he might not have needed old Santa had he checked his drag before that big cod hit!
  • And Jim Rose (MA). I could almost taste those porbeagle steaks on the "barbie" until we lost that shark. I guess we never really had it, did we?
  • How is it that the Yankees have the best year since Jim Maggorie (NH) has been fishing with me and yet this is the year we don't see him even once? I was getting psyched that I might not have to defend my poor Red Sox until Kevin McCloskey (MA) showed and took Jim's place! Ah, no one take's Jim's place!
  • I thought Carlos Shacar (MA) was a great fisherman until I heard that his wife, Ann, schooled his sorry ass. "Please, sir, can I have another?"
  • Dan O'Brien (MA), while on the July 28th half day trip, reminded me of the same trip exactly a year earlier when the USCG hailed me for a courtesy inspection. Not a half hour later, the USCG shows up on the horizon and makes me go through the same exact procedure again! I mean no disrespect to the Coast Guard but what are the chances?
  • I would keep a death grip on that new rod, Jay O'Connor. Wouldn't want Jared to show you up on a cast or anything!
  • Zach Latimer (VT) misses a trip on the Bunny Clark in the fall? A time out I heard? Better get your grades up a bit. We would miss you here at the Bunny Clark!
  • Ed Jeter (MA) returns! Probably the best and most unexplained event of the season!
  • We won't be reminding Chris Porter (MA) of his big hake floating away on my birthday trip - too often.
  • Steve LaPlante (CT) catches a hake over 24.5 pounds!
  • Anyone hear that song: "I left my skin in Massachusetts"? I feel lucky that I didn't leave my life there. I would have missed you guys! If it weren't for Mr. LaPlante, there would be no proof that I even left Ogunquit!

    In Memoriam: We lost two special people last year. One was my oldest Bunny Clark angler, a special friend, and one was the wife and mother of two special Bunny Clark anglers, a very special person herself.

    Sid Kaufman (FL) was planning on fishing with me last season when he developed lung cancer. He passed on June 26 after celebrating his ninetieth birthday at his family's house in Massachusetts. Luckily, his son, Jim, and his wife, Sylvia, allowed me to write something about the good times so it could be read there while he was still with us. I was told he liked it very much. Sid loved to fish. And he loved to fish with me. It was a heck of a complement, that. Had he fished with me on a more regular basis, there is no doubt that he would have made this newsletter in some good capacity. He was an excellent fisherman and an even better person. I will miss him very much.

    [Left; a digital image of David Symes holding his 2.1 pound Maine state trophy redfish caught September of 2009 on the Bunny Clark.]

    Nancy Buccacio (MA) passed on August 11 after a year fighting cancer. She and her family were and are the nicest people you will ever meet. Her husband, Jeff, and her son, Jeff, Jr., love to go fishing with me almost as much as I enjoyed seeing Nancy at Barnacle Billy's restaurant. And she was there a lot. Nancy had a beautiful voice (the lead singer in a local band), a very giving individual and a wonderful personality. She could light up a room. Until the day she died she looked twenty years younger than the sixty plus years she had behind her. We certainly need more like Nancy in this world, not less. I will miss her dearly.

    Running Bunny Clark Deep Sea Fishing is a lot of work. For me it has become a bigger task as we are still growing with all the new changes that are bestowed upon us and as we try to improve every year. My involvement with my family restaurant, Barnacle Billy's, has increased my work load. I still love the Bunny Clark business and her many guests as much as I ever did. However, I couldn't do what I do as well as I do it without the help of Captain Ian Keniston and Jared Keniston. They have become so good and so precise in what they do; it's as if I were there myself. This is something I have tried to attain with every person I've ever hired. It's something that has never quite been accomplished until Ian and Jared arrived. Now I have a system that works as well with or without me. I value our working relationship like a treasured bank. I believe I have a good imagination and I believe my common sense is better than the norm. With these intact, I can't believe there will ever be two people who will ever be matched in their capacity on the Bunny Clark. They will never be beaten. For this I thank you, Ian and Jared, from the bottom of my heart.

    Captain Tom Corbett (NH) remains my swing captain, giving us some much needed time off by working one day a week. I know the boat is in capable hands when he is aboard. I have loved my working relationship with Tom. I only wish he could work a day or two more! Tom too is a reason why the Bunny Clark system works as well as it does. Thanks, Tom. I appreciate you always being there for us!

    I also want to thank those who keep us all going. Of most importance is my wife, Debbie, without whom I couldn't imagine where I would be. My mind tells me it wouldn't be good! Her advice, the work she puts into running the reservations, the bookkeeping, her unwavering attitude and her support allow me to truly enjoy the business. Renée Stevens, our behind the scene's girl, solves all the problems we can't fix, helps us both with the computers, bookkeeping, reservations, office stuff, etc. She is just wonderful and joy to have with us. Jane Staples is a girl I grew up with in the neighborhood. She still lives within walking distance from the house. She has been with us for many years now and does everything we need to have done. She is invaluable. Thank you all: Deb, Renée and Jane. I appreciate you being here more than I could ever express.

    We had three reservationists who work solely with the people booking positions on the various fishing trips. Reservationists need to know how the trips work, what people want, how to provide it and to be able to communicate well and in a pleasant manner. We had some excellent people this year, made better by the fact that all have been with us before! That such nice people come back is certainly a benefit to us and the public they serve. Highest on my list, of course, is my daughter, Halley. Halley completed her fourth year last season. Halley and I communicate very well together as she seems to do with everyone. I may be a little biased but I think she's the best. Also, it helps that she knows Deb & Tim better than anyone! Katie Graichen completed her third season with us last year. She is just about perfect, certainly everything I would want in a person dealing with the public, particularly where it concerns my fishing business. I was very happy to have Eliza Jacobs back again last season. This was her second season. Another great season with Eliza! I want to thank you, all three of you, for being who you are and for doing such a wonderful job. Don't change a thing!

    [The Maine Department of Marine Resources sends their biologists with us occasionally during summer to collect data on recreational angling. They support us regularly in the Federal fisheries management arena. And their biologists are a pleasure to have aboard. The picture on the right shows one such biologist, Claire Enterline, measuring a pollock that has just been caught during a day trip on the Bunny Clark.]

    This was my third season riding in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC), 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. I write about this here as many of you have supported me, some for all three seasons. By the end of last years fund raising season I had passed on over $71,000.00 to the Jimmy Fund, a true complement to your help. The reasons to donate are many. But there are a few salient reasons to continue to do so. First, they are good at what they do, one of the top four cancer research & care facilities in the country. Second, one hundred percent of your donation goes right to the source, the cost of running the PMC underwritten by businesses around Boston. Third, it's in our back yard. Fourth, the innovative work they do spills into other facilities and other areas of medicine making it better for everyone. Fifth, the more money they get, the better able they are to hire the best people to do the job. This will continue to make them the best to support. Thank you all so much for supporting me in this wonderful event. It's the event of a life for those people with the disease. And cancer won't go away on its own.

    I can't tell you how quick these seasons go by. And with every ending season, there are more great stories to try to remember. I only wish I could remember them all. As I finish this Guestletter, I am reminded that every one I write is really a big thank you letter to all who participate in the Bunny Clark fishing season. It's you who make this letter and, by design, I try to get as many names in this as I have space for. Alas, I always leave many names behind. Thank you so much for such a wonderful season. I'm very much looking forward to seeing you all aboard in the season ahead of us. Winter Well!

    Group Effort

    Trophy white hake, from left to right: Tim Williams & 41.5 pounder, Jon Griffin (MA) & 36 pounder, Steve Brown & 33 pounder and Wobby Barnes (MA) holding his 37 pounder.

    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!

    Back To Home Page, Deep Sea Fishing Maine