The 2013 Bunny Clark Guestletter

Annual overview the 2012 Bunny Clark fishing season & the plans outlook for the 2013 season.

February 8, 2013, The Day of the Blizzard of 2013

Dear Guests:

Welcome to another edition of the Bunny Clark experience in words as seen through the eyes of your consummate host and daily scribe, Tim Tower.

The 2012 Bunny Clark fishing season was probably the most consistently good season we have ever had. This when you consider the weather, overall landings and individual angler success combined. It was our second calmest season we have ever had. This was also the year of Hurricane Sandy. Hitting the New Jersey and New York shore directly on October 27th, we only took a glancing blow. We didn't even lose power but for two hours in the Ogunquit area. Still, the left over seas and the bad press in the media kept the Bunny Clark tied to her wooden anchors for six days. Hurrincane Sandy, one day in April and one mild noreaster in early June (where we lost another three days) were the only bad weather days we had. Indeed, most days on the boat were calm or nearly so. Only the 2010 Bunny Clark fishing season had calmer weather overall. [The picture on the left is a shot of Dick Lyle (PA) holding his 21 pound wolffish, the largest wolffish of the 2012 Bunny Clark fishing season. It isn't, however, the largest wolffish that Dick has ever caught. Actually, a 28 pounder is his largest, also caught on the Bunny Clark!]

The year itself gave us our warmest ambient air temperature ever seen in my lifetime and certainly the Bunny Clark's. After a normal January, we had a very mild/warm winter (a modern meteorological record), a warmer than normal spring followed by a very warm summer. Ocean water temperatures were also higher than ever (another modern record). This allowed me to accurately predict the early arrival of various fish species. And this helped us greatly with landings, particularly in the two earliest months. It also left me scratching my head later in the year. The surface water attained the highest value I have ever seen around Maine waters. I saw a reading of 76°F and heard of higher values further off shore. And this may have been a result expected with the longer than normal calm oceans we experienced last summer. It was different; no better or worse for us except that the comfort index was higher for every angler involved on the ocean last year.

The positive effects of our weather change were several fold. We saw haddock schools earlier than any previous year. The haddock bite was on from the very first day we started our season. A very pleasant surprise. We recorded our best April for catching haddock, by far, and our best haddock spring ever. For the year, haddock landings came in third overall or just shy of seven percent of our total haddock landings since 1996 (the year we started to catch enough haddock to count). Only the 2000 and 2001 season saw higher haddock landings for the season.

The pollock were there to greet us on our first trip. Although we didn't catch many of them until just after the middle of April, they were about a month earlier than we expect them. The pollock were a main staple on the Bunny Clark for the whole season. The average size was smaller last year. However, these year classes seemed to be greater in number. It's been many years since we could almost guarantee an angler a fish if he or she sailed with us. This would have been one of them. That directly related to the large numbers of haddock early and the pollock throughout the year.

The dogfish were not much of a problem for us this season. And they were very localized, more so than any other year that I have been fishing. I was expecting a huge dogfish year from the reports of anglers fishing in the more southern states earlier in the season. Either those fish didn't show up in our waters, most were caught before they got here or they attained a behavioral pattern that was less conducive to catching the little demons. In fact, we saw no dogfish on the half day bottom last season. And they were so localized off shore that if you found them in one area a short steam would bring you to an area where there either weren't any or not enough to cause a problem. We did have a couple trips where we couldn't get away from them. This was far better than any year we have had in the past. [Seventeen year old Ali Hesketh (CT) can be seen on the right holding her first white hake. At 21.5 pounds, it's the largest groundfish she has ever caught. Ali was a natural that day. But then she was brought up by a great teacher.]

Blue sharks showed up earlier than ever, a direct function of the earlier warmer surface water temperatures in our region. Also, a reflection of the deeper than normal thermocline levels experienced earlier than normal last season. Blue sharks did not present as much of a problem overall as they have in some years. We have had ten other years that were much worse than what we experienced last season. Oh, we had some hard days where we couldn't get away from them. We even had a day where half the fish brought up on lines were taken by blue sharks. But this was an abnormal occurrence last year. Most of the time they lived a very localized existence, very similar to the dogfish. If they seemed bad in one place it seemed that we could move and get away from them in another place. Other times they might have been bad in the morning and completely missing in the afternoon - or the other way around. There was no way to predict their behavioral pattern but they were easy to live with.

This was our best year for catching halibut. Never have we had a season where we caught sixteen halibut on the Bunny Clark. Our best season before this one was the season before it in 2011. That year we caught ten (two were keepers). In fact, the numbers of halibut added up in those two years produced a total that was more than the total of all the other Bunny Clark seasons combined! The large majority of these halibut were sub-legal. But we did land one legal halibut. And I heard of other boats catching legal halibut. I think there is a direct relationship between the increase in the halibut population and the time since the closed fishing areas were established. I think the halibut population is most hurt by dragging (bottom trawling). As long as halibut spawning areas are protected from dragging I believe it is possible to recoup a halibut fishery again. Even in the past, catching a single halibut was big news with rod & reel. To catch sixteen in a season has to be good news.

Bluefin tuna landings were down this year. This isn't big news as they are an incidental species for us. A big year for landings might be three to six fish for the season. Last year we caught none. We only had ten hookups for the season last year. Only two of these might have been small enough to land. The rest were way too big to handle with a cod rod.

Cod were down in numbers last year. The Bunny Clark saw the lowest number of large cod ever in her history, by far. There were only two trophy cod landed last season. One of the two was a 29 pounder that I caught off the Petrel (my lobster boat) on January 28th with my son, Micah! Thankfully, it wasn't our largest cod of the season but it was very close. The big cod decreased, I believe, as a direct result of poor fishery management. More specifically, our cod have diminished exponentially with the advent of "sectors" with an ACL (annual catch limit - managers do love their acronyms) that had too high a value. Simply stated, this encourages pulse fishing where many boats in a sector can key in on a target species (in this case cod, particularly in the migration area between Cape Cod and Gloucester, Massachusetts). Since the ACL value is higher than the number of cod available, the cod can be wiped out of an area before the ACL value is met. I think also that not enough effort has been paid to closing the cod spawning areas. When they have made a meager attempt to close cod spawning areas it hasn't been for a long enough time period (for a better explanation of sectors you can skip down to paragraph 26 just after the closed area chart but before the trophy list). [Mike Morgan (CT) caught one of the larger cod on the Bunny Clark last year. Shown left, this 22 pound cod was caught on a June off shore trip four hours from Perkins Cove. You almost had to go that far to find the promise of a decent sized cod. Mike is the brother of one of my best regular anglers. ]

Also, last year the cod minimum size limit went from 24 inches to 19 inches. This was not a good thing. This came about because fishery managers don't understand that most released cod go back alive. Figuring a 100% mortality rate, in their minds it was better to keep a smaller fish than the larger more fecund individuals. For the Western Gulf of Maine closed area, this did two things. It allowed recreational vessels to tap into the base level of cod from small to 24 inch fish that inhabit that area in greater numbers. And it forced the larger party boats to stay on those smaller fish rather than be forced to move off them to areas where a 24 inch fish or greater could be found. For us, we didn't allow anglers to keep a fish under 21 inches. The 19 inch limit was handy for us in a way because it allowed us to keep a fish that was hooked mortally which would otherwise be thrown back dead. Overall, this does not bode well for the future of the resident base level of cod in closed areas. But many of the party/charter fleet would not have been able to bring a fish home had the size limit stayed at 24 inches. For us it was the lowest landing year for cod ever in the Bunny Clark's history - even with staying at the lower 21 inch level, three inches below last year's level. Some claim the environmental factors were most to blame. I don't believe this is true.

The other species of fish we catch including redfish, cusk, wolffish, mackerel, skates and hake (white, red & sliver) all stayed at expected moderate levels. We caught mackerel all year long. That hasn't happened in many years. In fact, we were able to catch mackerel on all our half day trips from June until October. Wolffish stayed at the same level they have been for the last three years. We saw some bigger redfish than we saw last year. Like the wolffish, their levels haven't changed much in three years. We stayed away from the cusk as much as we could but still were able to catch them when needed. Skate, including two barndoor skates, seemed to be as healthy a stock as ever. We never target them but sometimes drift into areas where they can be found. And hake were available starting in June through the end of November. To me there seemed to be less hake around. But there seemed to be enough hake around as to allow anglers as many as they needed before moving to another species. We never wanted for more hake. But we seemed to stay longer in those areas where, previously, we didn't seem to spend as much time to get the same numbers. This could be just a perception issue with me. As you know by now, the white hake is my favorite species to catch and eat. The majority of anglers don't feel as I do. [Piotr Lupinkski (NJ) caught this 19 pound monkfish -shown right- in early October on a marathon trip. The monkfish is rarely caught on the Bunny Clark. We might catch as many as fifteen of these fish during a year or as few as three or four. Piotr's monk was the second largest of the 2012 fishing season.]

The improvements we made for the start of last year's fishing season were mostly boat maintenance related. These included a better engine fuel filter/water separator system, reinforcement around some hatches, raised deck pads to support the bench stanchions for greater support and to bring the bench seats higher off the deck (supporting larger coolers, etc.), deck beam supports, more durable switches for the helm console and the normal cosmetic maintenance projects we do every year including the varnishing, enamel work on the trim and Awlgrip (linear polyurathane pigmented paints) on all the fiberglass surfaces). We also installed a new satellite phone. This was more expensive to use and maintain as compared to the previous phone but very much more reliable. Captains Ian Keniston and Jared Keniston are responsible for most if not all of the cosmetic work. It has been a few years now, that they have worked together as a team on the Bunny Clark in the winter. They have brought the work to the level of a selective science. David Pease is responsible for all the past, present and future maintenance and building of all the Bunny Clark and all it's mechanical and working features. Dave finished the boat after the hull was produced at the Young Brother's yard in Corea, Maine during the late fall of 1982. I have found no better person to work on boats than Dave Pease. [My daughter, Halley Tower, caught a 15 pound pollock during the day trip of July 31, 2012. Shown left, this is the largest pollock she has ever caught. However, at nine years old on November 29, 2002 in 20 knots of southwest wind she landed the Junior Angler IGFA world record in the Small Fry category for pollock with a fish weighing 12 pounds 12 ounces on a registered scale ashore. She and my son, Micah, who was eight years old at the time, both landed world records from my lobster boat, the Petrel. Both were sea sick during the time they were fishing! ]

There were no new improvements on fishing equipment for the beginning of the 2012 fishing season. Two of the places I rely on most heavily for most of the rod and equipment purchases are Surfland Bait & Tackle, Newbury, Massachusetts (Kay Moulton, proprietor) and the Saco Bay Tackle Company in Saco, Maine. Each of these places builds a specific Bunny Clark jig stick built to my specifications. When we need new rods I order appropriately from either place. They are also a great source of groundfish tackle in general. My jigs are almost exclusively purchased from John & Elsa Tenczar at Fish-On Tackle. They can be reached by going to their web site at or by emailing John at We use their 16 ounce Lavjig almost exclusively as we consider it to be the most versatile jig for all depths and conditions. They make an excellent chrome version of that jig which we have great success while fishing in less than forty fathoms of water.

New improvements on the Bunny Clark, like last year, will be limited to cosmetic work, items associated with U. S. Coast Guard requirements and systems repairs. We will be putting in a new secondary radar as a back-up to our larger radar. We already worked on the engine and replaced the alternators, the starter, injectors, some seals and gaskets and tuned the valves before the haul-out in November. We went straight from the haul-out to a U.S.C.G. hull inspection before putting the Bunny Clark in a barn to work on her for the rest of the winter. After she is launched in April or late March, the U.S.C.G. will complete their annual topside inspection before we become certified to carry passengers. This is the normal yearly routine - with extras.

Our web site 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. [The picture on the right is a shot of Eugene Palchik (PA) holding his 7 pound Maine state trophy haddock. In early April, Eugene caught a pile of haddock with me and was able to take advantage of the best early haddock fishing we have ever seen.]

This is the second season in which we stayed away from our cod tagging program. This mostly a result of an inadequate amount of time to spend tagging fish, a reluctance in angler participation and a decrease in cod landings. There were several trips we could have taken advantage of a tagging program. But, in all of these cases, I was unprepared to do so. And you really need a larger sample of cod to conduct a viable tagging study.

We frequently have anglers who release legal cod back to the ocean alive. There were no anglers who stood out this year. The largest legal fish released was a 29 pound cod by "yours truly". However, it was during the fishing trip on January 28, 2012 from our lobster boat, the Petrel. And, during that time of year, it is illegal to keep cod anyway. Although I might have released this fish had the cod season been open, it becomes a moot point when you only have one option. And, again, I was not fishing from the Bunny Clark.

We caught no Maine state or world record fish last year. We came closest with the 48 pound Maine state trophy white hake that Guy Hesketh (CT) landed on June 28th. The existing IGFA (International Game Fish Association) 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. We felt that we needed a slightly larger fish in order to break or tie the world record. Hake lose more than a pound even in a short period of time to consider getting the fish to a registered scale on land before it lost even more. As we use an exceptionally accurate scale, it can be said that initially Guy had a world record hake. Guy's hake ties with another 48 pound Maine state trophy hake caught by Joe O'Rourke (NY) in September 2011 for the second largest of its species we have seen on the Bunny Clark since 1986. The largest one we have ever seen was a 63 pounder caught by Robert Jorgensen (ME) during a half day trip on the Bunny Clark in 1983 (Those were the days - right, Dave Gray?). [Elaine Dunn (MA), left, can be seen holding her two Maine state trophy redfish. They weighed 2.25 pounds each and were caught within five minutes of each other. There was a period of about two weeks in the fall when we caught all of the Bunny Clark's big redfish. ]

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 Federal recreational fishing regulations will remain the same as they did last season until May 1, 2013 or until the beginning of the 2013 fiscal fishing season. Those regulations include: a nineteen inch minimum size limit on cod with a nine fish bag limit and a seasonal closure for cod possession from November 1st until April 16, 2011, an eighteen inch minimum size limit on haddock with an unlimited bag limit, a 12 inch minimum size on winter (blackback) flounder, a 19 inch limit on pollock, a 9 inch limit on redfish and a 41 inch limit on halibut. Halibut landings are limited to one halibut per vessel per day federally; state wise we are limited to five halibut per calendar year (Maine only). There is no limit on hake and cusk. It is illegal to keep barndoor skates and wolffish.

The future of fishery regulations in New England for anglers is a little less certain at this time. However, we have two changes that will affect the success of our fishing future. First, parts of closed commercial fishing areas are going to be opened to some extent depending on how the Federal government's fishing agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), determines what commercial vessels should be allowed in and when. Second, last year's and this year's low cod and haddock stock assessment will give us reduced annual catch limits (ACLs) and Acceptable Biological Catches (ABCs) sometime in the future. This could translate into less overall landings for the Bunny Clark for cod and haddock but it might not.

Closed areas:

In the 1990s, several areas in the Gulf of Maine (GOM) and Georges Bank (GB) were closed to commercial groundfishing. All these areas were left open to recreational angling except for Area I & II on GB and the Nantucket Lightship area. Some of these closed areas are open to scallopers who also catch a percentage of groundfish. All of the areas are open to mid-water herring trawlers who catch many tons of groundfish as a by-catch.

Below is a chart I stole from The National Oceanic and Atomospheric Administration's (NOAA's) Northeast Mutlispecies Information Sheet (Multispecies are the groundfish: cod, haddock, winter flounder, etc.). If you click on the link you will find that the handwriting on the chart on this page is mine. You can see I have labeled the location of Ogunquit, Maine (the Bunny Clark's home port). I have also labeled the approximate locations of Jeffrey's Ledge, Fippennies Bank and the names of the closed areas themselves. WGOM stands for the Western Gulf of Maine closed area. Until the proposal to open parts of the closed areas, all the area in orange was a closed area to commercial groundfishermen targeting mutlispecies. This includes both the closed area and habitat closed area in the orange sections shown on the chart.

Under the new ruling for fiscal fishing year 2013 (starting May 1), the areas in the clear orange will be open to commercial fishing activities targeting groundfish. These areas also hold aggregations of spawning cod, haddock, pollock and hake and well as other minor species that anglers don't target. Most of these spawning populations of fish are safe from anglers because they are too deep, areas that don't allow angling or restricted from catching too many fish because of existing regulations. The problem I see with opening the areas is that some commercial gear will take too many of the spawning individuals (fish) while also disrupting the ecology of the breeding areas as well. And this, of course, will decrease the numbers of fish available to everyone, commercial and recreational fishermen alike.

Even NMFS feels that opening the closed areas to commercial groundfishing needs to be carefully scrutinized before going forward. So the Regional Administrator of the New England Regional Office (NERO) of the NMFS in Gloucester, Massachusetts, John Bullard, set up a task force for the closed areas headed by research biologist, Susan Murphy. I have talked with Sue about this proposal several times to get clarification. She sent me the paragraph below explaining the process of closed area access. In the paragraph, Framework 48 is the vehicle in which the closed area proposal is one of many going forward from the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) decisions. Sectors refer to commercial fishing sectors. There are several sectors in New England. Each sector is comprised of a number of specific commercial groundfishing fishing vessels. Each sector is given a total allowable catch in metric tons. When a sector meets that target figure (tonnage) for a species, it can no longer land that species in a given fiscal fishing year. Each sector is overseen by a sector manager who acts as a liaison between the sector vessels and the agency. Sue's words to me on December 27, 2012.:

"In anticipation that the agency (NMFS) approves the FW 48 provision providing sectors with the ability to request NMFS to open up year-round closure areas, sector managers have submitted a combination of different access requests for fishing year 2013. NERO and the Science Center are currently analyzing these requests to determine if any of the closure areas could be opened for the purpose of providing access to healthy stocks. We are looking at many issues, including impacts to groundfish spawning, lobsters, protected species, etc. Once we are through with our analyses, we plan to go out with a proposed rule soliciting comment from the public before any final rule is published. Since the closed area access analyses would not be completed in time to develop rule making to meet a May 1, 2013 implementation date [the beginning of the fiscal fishing year for groundfish in New England], this action, if any, would be delayed until after the fishing year starts. As you can imagine, we have already received a lot of commentary from the public on this issue, both pro and con, and have taken all of this under consideration as we move forward with this process."

As far as upcoming fishery regulations for the angling public in the Bunny Clark's part of New England, the rules have not come out yet. What I can tell you is that at the end of January the NEFMC voted to approve an ABC (acceptable biological catch) value of 1550 metric tons of cod for fishing year 2013 (beginning on May 1, 2013 and ending April 30, 2014). During the 2012 fiscal fishing year, the ABC was 6700 metric tons (at the time of this writing, not even half of the 6700 mt has been harvested - this value is just too high for the amount of cod available). Of either value, recreational anglers are given 38%, commercial fishermen the 62% that is left. On top of all this we have the figures from the total recreational groundfish catch from 2012 that also has to be taken into account. And from what I understand from the Council and NMFS we are looking at a reduction in cod landings of 20% from last season and a 70% reduction of haddock from last season's estimated landings. Right now there is no way to tell how this is going to play out for new rules for 2013. I am optimistic that we can make something work for this season. And, remember, the same regulations we had last year will apply until May 1, 2013.

As far as the new recreational angling regulations are concerned, we probably won't find out until late February or early March. Whatever the new regulations turn out to be, we want to make sure that we don't go over our ACL (allowable catch limit) for 2013 before the season is over. This could trigger a total shut-down of recreational groundfish activity in New England. So regulations have to be crafted in such a way as to be conservative enough to not reach this point and yet liberal enough to allow a healthy sustainable recreational fishery. It will certainly be a challenge to come up with salient regulations. But I do believe that we have new tools (like a slot limit, for instance) that should get us to the place we want to go. I have been personally invested in this process from the beginning and plan to see this through until the end.

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 top five (or seven, with the cod) largest of each significant species during the 2012 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. This also makes all our big fish comparable through all the seasons since the Bunny Clark was launched.


FISH - lbs.



Erik Shaffer (MA)

Lobster - 1.75


Ken Carter (ME)

Lobster - 1.75


Dave Harris (MA)

Barndoor Skate- 23



Stew Pease (MA)

Barndoor Skate- 14.5



Micah Tower (ME) holding his 26 lb. Maine state trophy pollock, the first trophy pollock of his life and the only trophy pollock caught on the Bunny Clark during the 2012 fishing season. When his father was his age, it was much less common to catch a pollock this small in deep water. But then his father is older than dirt!

Jon Griffin (MA)

Sash Weight- 4


Dave Haberl (MO)

Porbeagle Shark - 171.5

71.75 X 42


Marcin Korszen (NJ)

Redfish - 3.25

17 X 14


Nate Roohr (NJ)

Redfish - 2.75

17.25 X 13


Alex Jordan (NH)

Redfish - 2.5

16.75 X 12


Steve Lenox (NY)

Redfish - 2.5

16.5 X 13


Ken Fowler (PA)

Redfish - 2.5

16 X 12


Bob Foster (NY)

Monkfish - 34.5



Piotr Lupinski (NJ)

Monkfish- 19



Dave Gray (VT)

Monkfish - 4.5



Dick Lyle (PA)

Wolffish - 21***


Chris Porter (MA)

Wolffish - 17***


John Baker (ME)

Wolffish - 16.5***


Wobby Barnes (MA)

Wolffish - 14***


Bob Bowie (ME)

Wolffish - 12***


Dave Harris (MA) looks like he's really enjoying this very rare 23 pound barndoor skate biting his fingers as he's holding this fish up for a picture. Holding a barndoor skate in this manner insures that the fish will go back unharmed. That doesn't mean it's any less of an unusual experience to hold a fish this way.

Micah Tower (ME)

Pollock - 26

39.5 X 22


Bob Key (PA)

Pollock - 24



Tim Jacobs (ME)

Pollock - 23


Al Armstrong (MA)

Pollock - 22.5


Skip Smith (ME)

Pollock - 22


Guy Hesketh (CT)

White Hake - 48

52 X 33


Tim Williams (CT)

White Hake - 45.5

48.5 X 33


Adam Towle (NH)

White Hake - 44

49 X 32


Dan Killay (VT)

White Hake - 42

47 X 36


Josh Stevens (VT)

White Hake - 41.5

48 X 30


Yoshito Umaoka (MA)

White Hake - 41.5

48 X 32


Jeff Bielak (MA)

Haddock - 9

28.5 X 18


Ken Bayly (NY)

Haddock - 9

28.25 X 17.5


Bryan Lewer (FL)

Haddock - 8.5

29 X 17


Doug Hill (MA)

Haddock - 8

29.75 X 16


Don Stancil (PA)

Haddock - 7.1

25 X 17


Art Kemler, Jr. (PA)

Haddock - 7.1

26 X 16


. The picture on the right shows Larry Burns (NY) holding his 14 pound Maine state trophy cusk caught during a fall off shore trip. This is the largest cusk that Larry has ever caught.

Ron Krause (MA)

Cusk - 22

37.5 X 22


Dave Gray (VT)

Cusk - 17

36.5 X 20


Dick Lyle (PA)

Cusk - 15.5

35 X 20


Jon Griffin (MA)

Cusk - 15

32 X 20


Mike Mazzarella (MA)

Cusk - 14.5

35 X 20


Liam Kennedy (NJ)

Cod - 32

44 X 25


Tim Tower (ME)*

Cod - 29



Dave Gray (VT)

Cod - 24.5


Shawn Rosenberger (PA)

Cod - 24


Cliff Kruger (MA)

Cod - 23


Mike Morgan (CT)

Cod - 22


Rodney Miller (MA)

Cod - 22


Seven year old Luke Keniston (ME), Jared Keniston's son, holding up his 3.5 pound halibut, the first halibut he has ever caught on the first deep sea fishing trip of his life. Yes, indeed, be proud of your colors!

John Baker (ME)

Halibut - 22



Dick Lyle (PA)

Halibut - 11.5**


Mike Long (PA)

Halibut - 10.5**


Bob Bowie (ME)

Halibut - 10**


Joe Evans (MD)

Halibut - 10**


Where there is a tie in fish size, anglers are arranged in order of the date caught. Earlier catches are placed first.

* I caught this cod on our lobster boat, the Petrel, on January 28, 2012.

** These halibut were sub-legal and released back to the ocean alive.

*** Federal regulation prohibits the retention of wolffish. All five of these wolffish were released back to the ocean alive.

  • Dave Gray and Dick Lyle appeared the most in the top five season trophy list with three fish each. Dave caught trophy fish throughout the season tying for second most in total among all Bunny Clark anglers. Dick Lyle didn't catch the numbers of trophies but he only sailed on four trips last season. And, in so doing, caught the largest wolffish of the last two seasons, the third largest cusk of the season and the second largest halibut of the season. Dave caught the second largest cod of the season, the second largest cusk of the season and the third largest monkfish. John Baker was the only other angler to appear in the top five trophy list more than once. John caught the largest halibut and the third largest wolffish of the season last year. I guess you could say that Jon Griffin came in with John but I put the sash weight in there only because it is such an impossible thing to catch without something attached to it! And, yes, it is not a fish.
  • Liam Kennedy caught the largest cod and fifth largest cod during the 2011 Bunny Clark fishing season. Last year he caught the largest cod again! Hat trick this year? Dynasty?
  • Like Ty Kashmiry (ME) the year before last, Jackie Paskal (ME) lost the largest haddock of the season right next to the boat after trying to haul this big fish over the rail twice before it fell off the hook. Not only was this a big framed fish but it was also a fat fish. That happened on the same trip that Jeff Bielak caught the largest haddock of the season at 9 pounds and Doug Hill caught his 8 pound haddock, the fourth largest haddock of the season. In fact, all those fish were caught during the best two hours of haddock fishing that I have ever witnessed. And it happened at the very end of what could have been a very mediocre trip had we not made that last stop.
  • On June 6, 2012, Bob Geres (NH) lost what could have been our largest wolffish of the season right next to the boat. Oddly enough, a month later, Dick Lyle caught the largest wolffish of the season on almost the same exact spot! [On the left is a shot of Dave Gray holding his 24.5 pound cod, our second largest Bunny Clark cod of the 2012 fishing season. ]
  • As mentioned previously, Guy Hesketh beat the existing white hake world record at the time of boating his 48 pound white hake.
  • Josh Stevens tied for the fifth largest white hake of the season at 41.5 pounds. Four years ago he caught a 41 pounder. At the time I told him he would never see another hake that big in his life time, never mind catching one over 40 pounds. Of course, Josh reminded me of this at every opportunity he got for the rest of the trip!
  • Bob Foster's 34.5 pound monkfish is the largest monkfish we have seen since Steve Jones (VT) caught his 41 pounder during the 2002 Bunny Clark fishing season. The world record monkfish is 49 pounds 12 ounces caught off the Bunny Clark on July 9, 1991 by Nancy Lee Regimbald (VT).
  • This is the second season in a row that there wasn't a bluefin tuna landed on the Bunny Clark. Before that (2011) we had seven years in a row that at least one bluefin tuna was landed on the Bunny Clark with a cod rod. We did have ten hook-ups, though. The first hook-up of the year happened on June 17th.
  • There were sixteen halibut caught on the Bunny Clark last season, a record number for a Bunny Clark season by a count of six. All but one was sub-legal.
  • Luke Keniston (ME), at seven years old, became the youngest angler to land a trophy fish for the season when he boated his 26.5 pound Maine state trophy white hake. It was the first deep sea fishing trip of his life. On that trip he also caught the halibut pictured above and the largest pollock of the trip at 11 pounds. Some anglers fish a life time and never see a halibut.
  • This is the first Bunny Clark fishing season where two barndoor skates were caught in the same season. We have only landed five barndoor skates total since the Bunny Clark was launched in 1983. This species of fish is only found in the western North Atlantic ocean. It became listed as an endangered species quite a few years ago by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and remains so today. All the barndoor skates caught on the Bunny Clark have been caught in the GOM closed areas.
  • Dave Haberl's big porbeagle shark is the second largest porbeagle that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark (landed October 25, 2012 - during the NHL lockout). The largest porbeagle that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark was one of 217.5 pounds caught by John Tesnakis (NY) on October 21, 2005, the year of the last NHL lockout. Both sharks were caught within a mile of each other! I don't normally believe in coincidences!
  • Had Steve Lenox (NY) had his way, we would have added a thresher shark to the list. On the October 10 offshore marathon trip, the last stop, as everyone was reeling up to get ready to hand out the pool and head home, Steve hooked into a thresher shark. He hooked it right on the surface. The fight only lasted for a few seconds. But in that time we saw the fish jump and noticed it's enormous tail. There was no doubt as to it's identification. It is the only time since the Bunny Clark was launched in 1983 that I can say for sure that we hooked up with a thresher shark.

    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 2012 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-’12): Shawn Rosenberger (PA) won this award with one angler close but not nearly close enough to win or utilize CVPs available to determine the winner. In fact, had CVPs been used there were only two trips I could have based them on where they fished together. And on both of these trips the points favored would not have changed the outcome. (CVPs – points added or subtracted between two anglers who end the year at the top end with 30 points or less separating them. Points are only adjusted on those days where both were fishing together.) Shawn has always been one of the Bunny Clark's top ten anglers overall and the best angler on many trips. He was always out of the running because he could only sail with us but one time of the season, the late fall. Many years if you didn't have the spring, you didn't get the points needed to win. Also, many years he has been blown-out on quite a few of his scheduled days due to harder than normal weather. This year he made more trips than normal in the time allotted and he made all of those trips count. [The picture on the left is a shot of Shawn during a marathon trip in October. He is holding his 24 pound cod and another 10 pound cod. He also caught a 15.5 pound cod, a 10.75 pound cod and a 9 pound cod before we left to go to another spot.]

    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. Shawn Rosenberger was the one last year. He had exceptional luck but you have to be exceptional in order to take advantage of the luck. And he certainly was that. Shawn fished with us during a twenty day stretch starting in late September. He fished on all but three of those trips. Some of the exceptional things he did that set him apart from the rest included winning six pools, attaining high hook status on almost all of the trips he attended, boating fourteen trophies, catching the most trophies for a single trip and catching some exceptional fish as well. I have compiled points for the FY award for many years now. It never fails to be an exciting endeavor to complete the work and find out who the new person is. This year was no exception despite the fact that it wasn't one of our top ten trophy years. To say that I am honored to think that someone like Shawn would enjoy fishing on the Bunny Clark for so much of his time would be an under-statement. Thank you so very much. Shawn; congratulations, you made my year! [The picture on the right is a shot of Shawn during a marathon later in October. He is holding a 37 pound Maine state trophy white hake, his largest groundfish of 2012. With this fish he tied with Dave Gray for the eighth largest hake of the Bunny Clark fishing season. Shawn also caught a 36 pound Maine state trophy white hake two days earlier which turned out to be the tenth largest hake of the Bunny Clark fishing season.]

    Shawn's total point count was 151. Bryan Lewer took second place with a point total of 120. Dave Gray came in third with 86 points. Dick Lyle was fourth with 74 points. And Ray Westermann (MA) was fifth with 46 points.

    Female Angler of the Year: Last season there was no one to meet the criteria to name a person who I felt deserved this award. This year, I'm happy to say, Marian “Merv” Murphy (NH) qualified. She had a great day on every trip she attended including some of the slowest trips of the season. She was still either high hook or nearly so and the pool winner or in the running for the boat pool. There wasn't another woman who did as well. Her best fish of the season was a pollock of 20.5 pounds which turned out to be a tie for the tenth largest pollock of the season. Over the many years that she has fished with us, she has always been a special excellent angler, a person I would expect to take this award on any given year. This year she edged out every other female in the bunch. Thanks for sailing with us, Merv. Too bad I only get to hear about all the great stuff that goes on when I'm not there! [The digital image on the left is a shot of Marian with her 20.5 pound pollock shortly after she boated the fish. Captain Ian took the shot - of course. ]

    Best Bait Fisherman: Shameless Ray “The Pole Tossing Master Baiter” Westermann (MA) landed this award again last year - as he has for the last five seasons in a row. There is a reason that Ray was in the top five for FY- '12, and it was all because of his success with the bait rod. And he has the expertise and the attitude, most essential to becoming the bait fishing elite in the presence of the purest of jig fishermen and bow gods. Yes, Ray was voted the unanimous choice by not only myself but by my crew as well. There just was no question here. And I was glad for that!

    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 no aces caught on the Bunny Clark last season. We have had as few as two and we have never had more than five aces in past seasons. Still, no aces is a Bunny Clark first. The closest we got to getting an ace was with the team of Brian & Marian (Merv) Murphy. On the July 21, 2012 full day trip, Brian landed the largest fish of the trip, a pool winning 13 pound cod, while Merv landed the second and third largest fish of the trip, an 11.5 pound pollock and a 9.5 pound pollock. If only they could have been one! Well, they are one but, well, you know what I mean.

    Most Trophy Fish (including hake over 15 pounds, cod & pollock over 20 pounds and monkfish, wolffish & halibut in the top five) of the Season: Bryan Lewer caught the most with a count of nineteen. Shawn Rosenberger and Dave Gray tied for second with a total count of fourteen. Ray Westermann was fourth with a count of eleven. And Jon Griffin, Fred Kunz (NH) and Dick Lyle all tied for a total of eight trophies each for fifth place.

    Most Trophy Fish during a Trip: Shawn Rosenberger caught the most trophies for a single trip with a count of eight. For second place, Fred Kunz landed seven trophies on the November 2nd marathon trip. Dick Lyle took third place when he landed six trophy fish on the July 13th full day trip. Dave Gray, Jon Griffin, Nate Roohr (NJ), Rick Gelaznik (MA), Yoshito Umaoka (MA) and Zach Latimer (VT) all tied for fourth place with five trophies each. And for fifth place, Bryan Lewer, Dave Gray, Louie Terruso (PA), Mark Lenczewski (NJ), Ray Westermann (twice), Rodney Miller (MA) and Steve Lenox (NY) all caught four trophy fish on a single trip.

    Most Pools (largest fish of the trip): Shawn Rosenberger came in first place by catching the largest fish of the trip on six different occasions. The last time anyone caught as many as six boat pools happened during the 2008 Bunny Clark fishing season when Tim Williams duplicated that figure. During the 2007 fishing season, however, Tim Williams won the boat pool on eleven different trips. He could have made it thirteen that season had it not been for the captain and one of the deck hand's getting a larger fish on two different occasions. Second place was a tie with Dan Killay (VT) and John Baker (ME) with three wins each. Third place went to David MacDonald (MA), John Doryk (NJ), Ken Lang (MA), Ken McLaughlin (ME), Ian Keniston and Rafik Bishara (MA) who each landed the largest fish of the trip two times each. [Sixteen year old Michael Hilliker (NY) can be seen on the right holding his double keeper catch of haddock during the marathon trip of April 11, 2012. His total legal haddock count that day was just shy of forty fish. ]

    High Hook: Shawn Rosenberger was high hook (the most legal fish on a trip) on ten different occasions, the most times for an angler during the 2012 Bunny Clark fishing season. Bryan Lewer was second in this category with seven counts. Mike Curran (NJ) and Thacher Parenteau (ME) tied for third place with five counts each.

    Biggest Double: (The most combined weight of two fish caught on the same line at the same time.) Adam Towle (NH) captured the largest double keeper catch on an early October marathon trip when he boated a 44 pound Maine state trophy white hake and an 18 pound pollock. This is the largest double keeper catch that has been landed on the Bunny Clark since Taylor Keene (ME) caught a double that included a 38 pound Maine state trophy cod and a 26 pound Maine state trophy cod on a fall marathon in the 2003 Bunny Clark fishing season. We hadn't seen a double that big since the mid '80s. The second largest double included a 29.5 pound Maine state trophy white hake and a 13.5 pound white hake caught by Dennis Reissig (NY) on September 14. Shawn Rosenberger caught the third largest double keeper catch of the season. His double included a 17 pound white hake and an 18.5 pound white hake. On that same day, Shawn boated seven double keeper catches, all white hake, in a row. It was the same day that he landed eight trophy fish, the most during a trip for the season. The fourth largest double was caught by Fred Frabel (NJ) when he landed an 18.5 pound white hake and a 14.5 pound white hake. Adam Towle caught the fifth largest double on the same day that he caught the largest double of the season. His second largest double (the fifth of the B.C. season) included a 14 pound white hake and another 18 pound pollock.

    Hardest Luck: Two days before the first Bunny Clark deep sea fishing trip on April 7, 2012, in the morning, I got a call from my father telling me that someone had fallen off the rocks from the Marginal Way. The police were on their way down to look for a boat to help in the rescue. I had been working at the desk at Barnacle Billy's restaurant since before dawn. I ran down to the boat (the engine had been running for fifteen minutes as a normal warm-up spring routine) grabbing my brother, Court, on the way. As soon as we were aboard, the Ogunquit Police showed up (two individuals). We casted off the lines and out of the Cove we went.

    Now I get a couple calls a year for problems of this regard. Many of them don't ever amount to anything. In fact, most of them are false reports. And I was thinking as much when one of the policemen said; "There he is!" Sure enough, floating face down was a man close to the rocks, off the Marginal Way and very near the little white lighthouse near Little Beach and Lobster Point. I backed the stern of the Bunny Clark in toward the rocks where the man floated helpless. The man-overboard door was open. Court asked; "How are we going to get him?" "Gaff," I said. "Gaff!" Court replied, with a look of fear and consternation on his face. "The pant leg", I said. I think my brother was thinking I was going to have him gaff the man in the neck or something. [The picture on the left was taken by Captain Ian Keniston on the extreme day trip of May 25, 2012. The scene shows Bob Bowie (ME) holding up his first halibut, a 10 pounder, with Matt's (last name unknown) hand on his shoulder and John Lambert, Jr. (NY) in the background fishing. Only one shot was taken of this fish before it was released back to the ocean alive.]

    At any rate, the two policemen and my brother got the man to the deck of the Bunny Clark. The policemen as a team started to give the man CPR. But it didn't look good. I raced back to Perkins Cove where an ambulance was waiting for our arrival at the first dock available. Later, the man was pronounced dead. He was fifty-seven years old, had walked off the rocks to the water's edge with a friend close to sunrise, had slipped on the sea weed at the edge of the water, fell, hit his head, went unconscious and rolled into the water. His friend didn't know how to swim. And because the man ended up face first, floating, he didn't have much of a chance. The surface water at the time was 43°F. Normally, hypothermia sets in fifteen minutes in 47°F water for a full grown man of average weight and build when naked. This man had been in the water at least twenty minutes. I was hoping for some miracle that didn't happen.

    So the first Bunny Clark trip out of Perkins Cove did not fare very well. It bothered my brother and I all day. And it wasn't the way I would have preferred to start the Bunny Clark Deep Sea Fishing season!

    Most Improved Angler: This honorable mention has to go to Bill "The Franchise" Gierhan (ME) who, on the June 11, 2012 Steve Shugar's extreme day trip charter, was high hook for the trip. Bill has always been known as the most least productive angler on the Bunny Clark - for years. When Captain Ian came back in off this trip and told me that Bill was high hook, I couldn't believe it. But he was. And he was the best angler of the trip. Now I also believe it was his only trip of the year. However, if Bill's success doesn't make him the most improved angler, I don't know how anyone else would ever qualify!

    Best Team: The best team this year was Brian & Marian "Merv" Murphy. There was (is?) no other better team.

    Exceptional Good Luck: During the September 26, 2012 marathon trip, Guy Hesketh dropped his own rod & reel overboard. The reel was an expensive one but of most concern was the hand made rod it was attached to. Also, if I'm not mistaken, it was the rod he used when, a couple of falls ago, Guy had exceptional good luck with the haddock on the Bunny Clark. He loved the rod. And I know how he feels. As a fisherman you go through many rods in a life time, only a couple become your close favorites. This was one of Guy's favorites, if not "the" favorite. Well, as his luck would have it that year, someone on the back of the boat (Guy was fishing the bow) hooked into the excess line from his rod & reel and Captain Jared Keniston was able to handline it back into the cockpit of the Bunny Clark!

    Quote of the Year: During the late summer after the Bunny Clark had come back from a trip I was standing on the dock above her. All the passengers had departed. I was about ready to leave and go back to Barnacle Billy's restaurant where I had been working that day. As I turned to leave, Jim Lewer, Bryan Lewer's father came over to me and asked, "Can I speak with you a moment?" Bryan had just been on the dock talking to me and now was rowing out to his boat on a mooring in the back of the Cove. So, when Jim asked to talk to me, I thought; "What have I done wrong now?" Jim said; "I am concerned about my son, Bryan." As he said this he pointed to Bryan rowing to the back of the come. "Tell me, Tim, do you think he will ever grow out of this?", Jim said. Realizing what he asked me, I told him that I couldn't answer him. In fact, I said; "I might be the wrong person to ask that question!" Bryan remains one of my best regular anglers on the Bunny Clark. And I can certainly tell that he has a deep passion for fishing as I did when I was growing up. [The picture on the right is a shot of Erik Shaffer (MA) holding his 1.75 pound lobster caught on the offshore marathon trip of May 29, 2012. The lobster would have had to have been released anyway. But this one would have also had to have been released had it been caught in a lobster trap. It was a "V" notched female lobster that can't be retained until the "V" is gone due to successive moultings.]

    Most Unusual Catch: The most unusual catch that I remember last season was a halibut that Ken Selmer (NH) caught late May on an offshore marathon trip. The fact that he caught his first halibut or that a halibut was landed at all in unusual in and of itself. However, this fish was so small (it weighed less than a pound) it was only just big enough to tell that is was a halibut at all. And only then because the eyes were on the other side of the fish (as compared to most flounders). In fact, the jig he caught it on was much bigger than the fish and Ken hooked this tiny halibut in the mouth!

    Some people impress me more with what they don't catch. Gary "The Candy Man" Mills (NY) has been fishing with me for years. Don't ask me how many years but it might be almost as many years as I have had the Bunny Clark. It's a lot of years. Gary used to fish with his two brothers. They have since passed. But Gary, I'm very happy to say, still comes back every year for his annual dose of abuse from me and, hopefully, fun. One thing that Gary catches all the time are dogfish. Every year without fail, during the trip, he lands dogfish. And, usually, he's high hook in the dogfish department. Last year he caught a seasonal record of twenty-nine dogfish on one trip making him the highest hook for that species for a single angler on a single trip during the 2011 Bunny Clark fishing season. This year he showed up at the normal time of year with all his friends (they charter the boat for the day), fished through the trip and caught not a single dogfish! Oh, the dogfish were around. And, no, he didn't change his fishing set-up or the way he fishes. He just didn't catch a single dogfish. Now that is unusual!

    Unexplained Phenomena:

  • Captain Ian Keniston called me from the Bunny Clark while I was still working at Barnacle Billy's restaurant in the afternoon. I am never comfortable when I realize Ian is trying to get in touch with me. I worry. And the worry this time was well founded. He couldn't start the engine of the Bunny Clark. He checked the wiring, checked the batteries, pounded the starter as the key was turned and anything else he could think of. All to no avail. To make a long story shorter, I enlisted the help of my son, Micah, and we both jumped in our lobster boat, the Petrel, with spare starter in hand and headed to the Bunny Clark's position thirty nautical miles off shore. For the whole time they (anglers, crew & passengers) were waiting they were drift fishing and the fishing was good - the whole drift. They also had the Department of Marine Resources scientists aboard doing their sea sampling study, a study of recreational anglers and their catch. Captain's Ian and Jared yanked the starter out so that when I arrived all I had to do was put the new one in. My son dropped me off on the Bunny Clark. I was done in about fifteen minutes. The engine started right up afterward. Everything was fine except for Marilyn Lash, one of the research scientists from the DMR. She has been aboard the Bunny Clark for many years and never gets sea sick. At least, she never got sea sick until this day. And since everyone else was having such a good day, Captain Ian awarded the hard luck t-shirt to her instead of one of the paying passengers, a first!
  • Ben Barzousky (MA) got the worst backlash of the year, presumably on an errant cast during a late September marathon trip. It was so bad I had to take the reel apart and remove his spool to fix it. He fishes with Spectra line, which is very expensive. But I eventually got the job done. And I managed to do it without cutting his line! Thanks, Ben!
  • Had I been paying more attention to my customers, thirteen year old Tim MacDonald might have landed a big fish on the last trip of the season, November 5th. Tim was fishing on the bow telling his father, David, that he was stuck on the bottom. Rather than go up myself, I let David handle it even though David was fishing. Well, it turned out it wasn't the bottom at all. It was a big fish that didn't realize it was hooked. Near as I could tell it was either a large porbeagle shark or a bluefin tuna. When the fish was aware of getting hooked it started taking line and running aft. I finally got involved and was able to pass Tim's rod to the stern so that he would have a clear shot of landing this fish unfettered. However, I never anticipated getting Tim's line hooked into another angler's swivel in the process. This action severed Tim's line immediately. The fish and all that line gone! Ouch! Sorry, Tim! [Tim Williams took his only trip on the Bunny Clark during the 2012 season on the July 31 full day trip, the same day my daughter, Halley, took her first trip. During that trip, Tim caught the second largest white hake of the season, a 45.5 pound Maine state trophy, shown left.]
  • Ray Westermann and Jon Griffin bringing ice cream and assorted frozen dairy delights on the Ultra Marathon trip in July? Very special and a first!
  • When I spend more time away from the Bunny Clark than any year since she was launched because of fishery management issues, something is definitely wrong (with me and the fishery).
  • Mike Constable, III (NY) was fishing on a later April extreme day trip with Captain Ian Keniston, won the boat pool and then had an unanticipated seizure. Since this was Mike's first and only seizure, Captain Ian was forced to terminate the trip and bring Mike to professional medical attention as soon as possible, thus preventing anyone else from getting a bigger fish that day!
  • As far as I know, Steve Wiater (MA) landed the largest haddock double of the year with a 6 and a 4 pounder, both fish caught on the same line at the same time, in late April.
  • Tom Miller (NH) completed the first and only "Steve Wiater Hat Trick" on the first of May when he landed the largest fish of the trip, was high hook and high hurler, all on the same trip!
  • It must be hard to remain humble when you have your elegant visage on the largest billboard in town knowing that everyone on the fishing charter knows about it. To his credit, I didn't see any difference in Rick Gurney's (MA) demeanor.
  • Ozzie Lachance (MA) doesn't catch a single dogfish during a trip? Very unusual!
  • Was it the constant drinking of fluids or his physiology that allowed Jeff Bean (MA) to go from a death-warmed-over-down-and-out sea sick individual in the morning to a affable fishing fool enjoying life in the afternoon? Never in my life have I seen such a transition in an angler. If I knew what it was I would package it and sell it. And I would probably make enough money out of the deal to allow me to keep party fishing for the rest of my life!

    In Memoriam: This has become an all too common occurrence in my annual Guestletter that I should have to write about very important Bunny Clark people who have died. It's with a great deal of sadness that I have to mention the passing of three very wonderful people.

  • Tim Coleman (RI) was found on a path leading from one of his favorite coastal fishing spots early in the morning on May 3, 2012, dead apparently from a heart attack. Excellent fisherman, wreck hunter, author, angler's rights advocate, wonderful individual and the voice of New England's Fisherman Magazine, Tim helped us all to open our eyes, learn about tackle, the best fishing spots, the wrecks of the ocean and to stand up for the recreational angler in fishery management issues. His passing affected me more than the passing of some of my relatives. Still, to this moment, I can't believe he is gone.

    You can't know how important Tim Coleman has been to me and the New England recreational fisherman. He was the one so instrumental in crafting the first recreational cod regulations that kept the angler in the fishery in the Council's Amendment 7. He was the one who used his Fisherman Magazine to help the recreational angler in his writings and to develop a fund raiser (with Frank Blount) to get money to fight for angler rights in the New England fishery. His many contacts went a long way to keeping anglers informed and fishing. He was the consummate wreck expert in New England. He was always so very curious where boats went down, the identification of them and where they were found on the bottom. He once told me; "I don't care about fishing on them, I just want to know where they are." Of course for most fishermen, knowing what kind of fish they hold is all important. Captain Greg Mercurio was one of his best friends. They spent many hours together aboard the Yankee Capts treating customers to some of the best times searching for wrecks and fishing them. Fact of the matter is, I can't say enough good about the man. He was considerate, kind, interested, interesting, a wonderful writer, an honest person and a man of his word. Whatever he said, you could bank on it.

    The winter of 2011-2012 I was in a funk. Of course we all were, again, fighting for our place in the fishery with the Fishery Management Council; the cod status report was out and it was horrible. But the real source of my funk was letting Tim Coleman down. And, I'm sure, Tim didn't feel that way about me. But I hadn't been answering his letters (I was very busy with the businesses) earlier in the year. I talked to Greg Mercurio about this. Greg came to the rescue informing me that Tim had email and he would talk to Tim on my behalf. Tim used to call me about my fishing reports for the Fisherman Magazine early in the Bunny Clark's career. Later, when I started writing my fishing reports on line (1995), when he called I would tell him that he could go to my web site. "No", he said, "I would rather hear it from you and I don't care about the Internet." I assumed that things hadn't changed. In my distorted way of thinking I projected this to computers in general. And since anytime I heard from him it was in a letter via USPS, I assumed he did everything by phone or letter. I was wrong. Moreover, Greg talked with him, allowing Tim and I to get together on email. And the emails flowed, like two long lost friends who finally find each other. We had talked years ago about sharing wreck information. I was able to invite him up to Ogunquit last winter so we could sit down together and go over the charts and all the wreck numbers I had from fishing and from other fishermen. We might have spent seven or eight hours together on the top floor of Barnacle Billy's, Etc. It was a great time with a person I felt a great kinship and friendship with. I look back on it now and think that, had I not been involved with Greg on fishery issues and casually mentioned this to Greg, this never would have happened. (Thanks, Greg!) And I'm so glad I was able to talk with Tim Coleman, one on one, just before he died. Those will be my fondest of memories of a great man. There are three emails on my computer from Tim that I haven't answered yet because they are questions about wrecks that I haven't been able to find the time to research yet. These are wrecks I probably have numbers for in his neck of the woods. I am so sorry that I will never be able to answer those.

    Tim was 65 years old. His passing happened way too early. [Dave Dinsmore (ME) took the picture on the right. It shows Dave Haberl (MO) holding the tail of his 171.5 pound porbeagle shark he caught with Captain Ian Keniston during the extreme day trip of October 25, 2012. Captain Ian and Micah Tower broke three gaffs before finally boating this beast. The porbeagle was the largest fish landed on the Bunny Clark last season.]

  • On September 20th I was informed that Rod Wood (PA) had passed away with medical complications in a hospital near his home. Rod, also an excellent writer, in fact one of the best writers I have ever had the privilege to know, was one of my favorite anglers. We met when I had my first charter boat, the Mary E. When I launched the Bunny Clark in 1983, he was one of her original anglers. He and his son, Ian, forged a wonderful angling relationship with the Bunny Clark, her guests, my crew and anyone who knew him for all those years, every year, many times a year. Soft spoken, he treated everyone with kindness and respect, and he received it in return. He was a good fisherman but, more than that, he had a passion for fishing. Often times I thought that fishing turned him into a little kid, he was so excited. And since it does the same thing to me, I could understand where he was coming from.

    We had many unique times and many good times. Like the time he reeled a land bird into his reel without realizing it. The bird found us in the fog (along with a few others of it's kind) and stayed with us until it's demise in the afternoon. Rod once lost one of my custom rods overboard - I'm surprised we don't lose more. Rod was really upset about this. Not so much for losing the equipment. But I believe it really bothered him because it was my rod. That didn't mean I didn't remind him of it in the future. We laughed about it a few more times after that. But there were many other great stories and huge fish that he caught with no one else but me. That was special as was the man. I will never forget Rod. I miss him terribly.

  • I lost another original angler last winter too. Dale Lee (NY) fished with me from the beginning of the Bunny Clark's existence. His wife, Ruth, let me know of his passing almost a year ago today. He loved fishing on the Bunny Clark and I enjoyed having him. He was a great deal of fun, a very nice person and an excellent angler. He liked it so much that he wanted his ashes spread from the Bunny Clark. So on May 18, 2012, after the extreme day trip, we cleaned the Bunny Clark up and took her on another trip closer to shore. This trip had some of Dale's friends and relatives, Ruth presiding. We stopped a mile off shore. In fact, when Dale first started fishing with us I took him on several very successful trips on Mack's Ledge, maybe even the same exact place. After a small ceremony I took the Bunny Clark back to Perkins Cove. Dale is the epitome of the angler I love having on the Bunny Clark. I will miss Dale a great deal.

    As with every passing season, I owe all the fun, successes, the great fishing and the ability to remain consistent throughout the year to my two best captains/deck hands, Captain Ian Keniston and Captain Jared Keniston. Never have I ever had the control and consistency that remain so much a part of the Bunny Clark experience without them. And if I left tomorrow, never to return, I don't believe anyone would know the difference. They know what I want when I want it and how the business should be run. Hell, they remind me many times of things I have forgotten! They are my principle people on the Bunny Clark. As I have shifted focus from the Bunny Clark over the years, Ian and Jared have become the face of the Bunny Clark. They have done a wonderful job. I appreciate them so much it would be hard to imagine the operation without them. Indeed, it would be an operation lacking, without them. Thank you both so very much for being the best part of Bunny Clark Deep Sea Fishing.

    I enjoyed having my son, Micah Tower, as the swing deck hand last season. Taking over from the swing deck hand of the 2011 fishing season, Sean Devich (NH), also one of the best, it was a father's joy to have his son there with him. Although an excellent boat handler, Micah had never filleted a fish before last winter. And to get him started we took two or three Petrel trips where he started to earn his ability. By the end of the season, Micah was right where he needed to be with the filleting, cleaning the boat and working with the anglers. There was a week last season when Captain Jared was injured. Micah took every one of his shifts without complaint, working for over a week without a break. Thank you, Micah, I will miss not having you aboard on "Tim Tuesday's". [The shot on the left is a digital image of Dave Gray holding his 17 pound Maine state trophy cusk just before dawn, 89 miles off shore during the ultra marathon trip during a very flat calm day on July 10, 2012.]

    This year I am planning to work Ryan Jolly into the system as our new swing deck hand. He is local, in his early twenties and lives near Captain Jared. He will take over the same position that Sean Devich and Micah held. Micah himself is finding his own way into the fishery, of which it seems he really wants to be a part of. At the present time Micah is commercial longlining for pelagics (tuna, swordfish, marlin, etc.) with former Bunny Clark Captain Kenton Geer off Hawaii. From what I have heard he is having some amazing experiences. If he does come back this summer, he will be commercial fishing on the Petrel and is considering going to school for diesel engine mechanics. Otherwise, he will remain fishing off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands.

    As for the commander in chief of the BCDSF, I tried to write a new paragraph about her and her involvement in the business but I couldn't come close enough to doing as good a job as I did with last year's paragraph in last years Guestletter. So here's last year's missive: My wife, Debbie, has been the shore captain for so many years now that it’s hard to remember when she took the reins over totally. Suffice it to say, the business wouldn’t run without her. Her advice to me, the accounting, the way she handles our reservationists and the way she treats the crew makes her the partner I would choose over and over again. Plus, I guess it helps that she is a wonderful wife. I always feel like I roped her into this business (or lash-up as it was called in the clipper ship days) but she has never complained. I have always thought of her as my right arm. But, probably now, it’s the other way around. Thanks for having me, Deb. I would be lost without you.

    Jane Staples is our next in command ashore. A wonderful person and reservationist as well, Jane grew up a few houses down from where I grew up. We live closer together now. So not only did she know me from the beginning, she knew what to expect from the beginning. And it was no surprise to me that she does such a good job. Part of doing business in a town is knowing the local population and how it works. She does. Also, Jane always takes over without a question when needed. And she gets involved in the office work and the day to day. Thank you, Jane. I’m so glad you are here - still, after all these years.

    We had three girls as our summer reservations team again last season. My daughter, Halley, completed her seventh year with us last year. Halley is outgoing and, of course, knows the business backwards and forwards. She has always been very good with people on the phone. She’s been an asset to me. Plus, I couldn’t have picked a better more honest daughter. That helps! Right now she is completing her second semester in the nursing program at Fairfield University, Fairfield, Connecticut. Grace Lally completed her first season with us last year. She is the younger sister to Kate Lally who was one of our summer reservationists a few years ago. And very much like Kate, she was very good with our angling public. I never got to know Grace as well as I did her sister but there was nothing that even hinted at being untoward about her personality that I would have noticed. And I certainly hope she likes it well enough to want to come back this season. It was the first year for Jen Brosius too. One of our best cashiers at Barnacle Billy's, I knew Jen from the many years she has worked at the restaurant. Excellent with people, I was so happy when I found out she wanted to work for us. And true to form, she did an excellent job last summer. Thank you all, Halley, Grace and Jen B for the wonderful job you did for us last season. I certainly appreciate your help and the nice way with which you all handled yourselves and our customers. Many thanks! [And who can't appreciate Don Stancil (PA) aboard? Shown right holding his 7.1 pound Maine state trophy haddock caught on the marathon trip of May 4, 2012. The answer: no one! ]

    This was my sixth 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 DFCI, Boston, Massachusetts. The ending total for six years of fund raising came to $151,446.37 through the Jimmy Fund, the fund raising arm of the DFCI. Last year alone I was able to raise $24,552.12 from 315 separate donations. Most of these donations came from anglers of the Bunny Clark in $20.00 increments but I did get some very generous donations, the largest of which was one for $3,000.00. And for this support I am deeply grateful. I have already renewed my application for the 2013 PMC and am looking forward to raising as much money as I can. The money raised helps to maintain the most wonderful cancer facility in the country right in our own back yard. Last year I found that six people became cancer free because of my direct involvement in the DFCI. They were going to be treated elsewhere until my writings changed their minds. Three people told me only after they became cancer free this year, even though they had started treatment months before! I will continue to support the DFCI because of their track record, the fact that 100% of the money goes directly to the DFCI (the United Way, for instance, reserves more than 28% of your donation for administrative costs) and because the more money they receive the better their chances are of hiring the best researchers. I hope you can help me celebrate the joy I get from supporting a great cause at a wonderful place in the form of a future donation. Otherwise, let’s go fishing!

    As I end this Guestletter, I feel so overwhelmingly grateful for the support and attendance of so many wonderful people/anglers associated with the Bunny Clark experience. Athough our fishing guests are the top in this regard, my gratitude also applies to those who I never see but from whom I receive correspondence during a given season. Everybody helps to make the Bunny Clark a better fishing platform. Alhought I work very hard at maintaining a viable business that is consistently good I am always mindful of the fact that it's the anglers enjoyment that truly drives the Bunny Clark. I try to interpret all I see and put it back into the system to make it even better in the future. And all the good people around me, like my crew, reservationists and my wife, help me do this in a way that I think is so very complementary to me. So I deem it an honor and a privilege that so many of you chose the Bunny Clark for your deep sea fishing adventures. And I do so look forward to seeing all of you on the Bunny Clark this summer. Thanks so much for all you do for us!

    Our Largest Redfish of Three Seasons

    The shot above was taken during the October 5, 2012 marathon trip. The picture shows Marcin Korszen (NJ) holding his 3.25 pound Maine state trophy redfish. This was the largest redfish that was caught during the 2012 Bunny Clark Deep Sea Fishing season and the largest redfish we have seen on the boat since September of 2009! Normally, our largest redfish are caught in the spring when they are full of young. They bear their young alive at that time of year and, as a result, weigh more than they do in the fall. Marcin's redfish was seventeen inches caliper fork length but was fourteen inches in girth even without a crop of young internally, meaning, of course, that it would weigh a heck of a lot more had we caught it five months earlier. I'm not sure I have ever seen a redfish with this big a girth. The digital image was taken with my iPhone.

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