The 2014 Bunny Clark Guestletter

Annual overview the 2013 Bunny Clark fishing season & the plans outlook for the 2014 season.

February 15, 2014

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 end of the 2013 Bunny Clark fishing season marked the thirtieth season we have been in business. Thirty-one years from the time we finished our season last year, I had already decided that I was going to have a forty foot Young Brothers lobster type boat laid up to be made into a combination dragger/deep sea fishing boat. And I had already decided that David Pease, in York, Maine, was going to finish it off for me. And, to my delight, Dave had agreed to do so. In May of 1983, the Bunny Clark was launched at Dion's Yacht Yard. And I have never regretted a single day that the Bunny Clark has operated since. She was and still is the wettest, most sea kindly boat of her size that I have ever been on. And having my mother's name on her stern gave her all the luck she needed to be a more successful fishing boat than I would have ever dreamed. The boat has caught a lot of fish over the years. But, most importantly, she has made a lot of people happy, made anglers out of ordinary people and has recognized more world record holders than any other deep sea fishing boat in New England. Thank you all for allowing me to get this far.

As every season is different from the next, the 2013 Bunny Clark fishing season was no exception. Even though the 2012 season was the second calmest season the Bunny Clark has ever seen, the 2013 season was calmer still. This makes 2013 the second calmest season and the 2012 season the third calmest season ever. Surface water temperatures got back to reasonable levels last year after a more normal winter. It was still a bit warm on the surface of the ocean but not like the record breaking warm surface water temperatures of 2012. There were no hurricanes last year in our area. The National Weather Service had predicted the worst hurricane season in a century. The 2013 season ended without a single one effecting the east coast. This is a first. We always have at least the remnants of a hurricane going by in the fall. Not last year. Along with the calmer than normal winds and seas, we had very warm summer. It wasn't exceptionally warm but it was nowhere near as cold as some summers we have had. I would call it a great advertising summer. [The picture on the left is a shot of Micah Tower (ME/HI) holding his 25.5 pound Maine state trophy pollock, the Bunny Clark's largest pollock of the 2013 fishing season. His sister, Halley Tower (ME), is standing next to him in the shot.]

Boat problems were few last season as well. We were broken down for three days in June when a freezer plug let go on the side of one of the cylinder heads. This showed up as a coolant leak in the engine room. Each individual head had to be removed, parts obtained, all freezer plugs changed out and the engine reassembled with all new gaskets, "o"-rings and seals. In the meantime, during the second day at the dock, there was a minor northeast blow where we probably wouldn't have sailed anyway. We had other minor breakdowns during the season but we managed to fix each problem before the trip the following day. A tensioning arm broke off on one of the engines alternators at 9:00 PM on a Sunday. We would have missed the next day's trip had it not been for New England's best welder, Mike Dumas, getting out of bed, driving to his shop to meet me and welding up a new arm before I left to go back to Perkins Cove. I won't forget Mike's son, Nick, who helped me get in touch with his father. Nor will I forget the help of my son, Micah, who stayed up and worked with me until the job was done. In October, we had a starting battery terminal melt under the connection, keeping the engine from starting on a trip at sea. Ian Keniston, the captain that day, drilled and tapped a hole in the in the lead that was left, put in a big stainless screw and "vice-gripped" the connector to the screw to get the boat home. Later that night we replaced both 130 pound starting batteries with new. And the head (toilet) stopped functioning on a warm July night when a piston lever arm snapped during use on a trip. Micah and I started rebuilding the head that night and had it working again before the midnight hour.

We had a very early start to the fishing season last year. The haddock were on the fishing grounds to meet us the first day out. Normally, we don't see that many haddock that early. But other species were also available on the first day as well. Mackerel were caught from the first day, through the season and to the last day of the season. We usually first see the mackerel in May and rarely into October. Dogfish were found all year long when, normally, we first start seeing numbers of dogfish in June. They were worse in the summer months as they normally are. But they were never horrible except for one or two trips. We can have as many as sixty days with horrible numbers of dogfish attacks, the results of which sometimes show up as a bad "Yelp" rating. But not last season. Collectively, we experienced the least number of dogfish blitzes ever in a season. And we only caught a couple of dogfish total on the half day trips, by far the least we have ever seen inshore! However, we did see them every day of the season outside the inshore fishing bottom (during day trips, extreme day trips and marathons). But when they don't bother it's just another added species to be seen. Pollock were also present during the first week of fishing, a very early show for them.

A noted difference last season was the size of the fish. The average pollock size has been going down every season. This is a trend we have noticed for the last seven seasons. But it was more noticable last year. Some of the spots we catch pollock had to be abandoned during the 2013 because the size of the pollock was so small. No one wants to catch short fish just to throw them back. Still, we had plenty of pollock all season. Like previous seasons there were many times where we had plenty enough to leave them for another species. The size was just a curiosity to me for this species and, possibly, worth noting.

The number of haddock releases were many this year, the best year for juvenile haddock that I can ever remember seeing unless it was when I was too young to remember or even consider it. We had a ratio of two to one sub-legal haddock to legal haddock. Boats that fish further south in "haddock country" gave reports of a five to one ratio or even higher on some days. The average haddock size was the smallest we have seen for years. The total catch (numbers) of haddock (legal & sub-legal) was the largest I have ever seen (by 293 fish) caught with rod & reel since I started taking charters in 1977. Our second best year occurred during the 2000 Bunny Clark fishing season. [Micah Tower can be seen on the right holding his 34 pound Maine state trophy white hake. Caught drifting off a deep edge during an offshore marathon trip in the fall, the hake was the biggest fish of the trip and the sixth largest white hake of the season.]

Cod sizes were way down this year as well. This was the second full season where we could keep cod under twenty-four (24) inches. The Federal minimum size limit was set at nineteen (19) inches during the fiscal fishing year of 2012. I have felt that this is too small (the mortality rate on returned cod is 30% at worst). In the closed areas we fish on the base level of cod where the recreational angler has maintained an upper limit of twenty-four (24) inches for many years until 2012. Most recreational boats didn't tolerate a minimum size as small as nineteen inches last season. Of the charter boats we fish around, most stayed as we did for the season, at a minimum of twenty-one (21) inches. The odd thing about the cod last season was that, as expected, we had quite a few cod in twenty-one to twenty-six inch range with very few fish above that level. We caught only a hand full of cod in the teens and not a cod over 18.5 pounds! This is the first time in my life that I haven't seen a cod of 20 pounds or better boated in a season on one of my boats. Some of this is bad luck as there were big cod landed by other recreational vessels last year. But the big cod were very few indeed everywhere and you really had to be in the right place at the right time. And we do not target cod spawning areas so our chances were diminished in that arena as well. But the other odd thing was that there were very few sub-legal cod caught this year, fish under 19". As the overall season matured and finished, it was one of those seasons where I could have guaranteed anyone a legal fish on every trip except the half day trips if they used the equipment as shown. So it was a very good season indeed. It was just very different.

Last season was our third best halibut season. We caught a total of nine. Three of the halibut were of legal length, the rest were very sub-legal. Our best year for catching halibut, the 2012 fishing season, saw sixteen halibut. Our second best season, 2011, we saw ten halibut brought to the surface. Some other vessels had similar halibut seasons. And three other vessels caught larger halibut than we did. 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 truly believe that the halibut population is most hurt by dragging (bottom trawling). As long as halibut spawning areas are protected from dragging I know 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 so many halibut with regularity the last three years has to be good news and certainly an upward trend in the halibut stock.

Our hake fishing was just about as good as it has been. We didn't see as many white hake landed last season as other seasons but we didn't fish for them as often as we have other seasons. We stayed away from them more last season because the majority of our anglers wanted to catch cod. And the cod fishing was much better than most seasons, albeit they were smaller as well - which makes the perfect fillet size. And in many cases, the best cod fishing this year was in the shallow water and much further away from where we catch hake (white hake) to make it impractical to do both. However, we did have some great white hake catches. And they were consistently our largest fish this year. [Captain Ian Keniston took the picture on the left. It shows Chris Albert (ME) with his long and lean 22 pound halibut which he caught during a spring extreme day trip. Chris has been fishing with us for many years and is excellent at it.]

We did see an increase in silver hake (whiting) landings. We never really targeted them. But when we caught them in an area, we would concentrate on them until we landed a few. One of the most dramatic days that this happened was during a September marathon trip in which Fred Kunz (NH) caught eight whiting in a row from 1.5 pounds to 2.75 pounds, all while using a jig and fly combination. We also caught one of the largest whiting we have caught on the Bunny Clark this season in June.

We didn't see as many cusk on our normal trips as we have seen in the past. Some of this was because we stayed away from the areas that they frequent. But there also weren't as many cusk in the deep water as we are used to seeing. Where we did see an increase was on the inshore half day trips. On these trips we saw more cusk than we have seen in years. I think the reason for this is that lobstermen don't set their traps on the hard bottom as much as they used to. This is because lobstermen aren't allowed to use "float rope" between their traps. If you don't use float rope in these hard bottom places, the rope between traps gets hung up in the rocks. This is a good way to lose a lot of lobster gear. Lobster traps catch cusk because the preferred bait is herring, one of the cusks favorite food. And cusk are territorial. So when the traps aren't there, the cusk flourish and increase in those areas, my theory. Whatever the reason, the half day fishing was the best it has been for years because of the cusk. And, of course, we had no dogfish on the half day trips last season.

We caught only one monkfish of size last year. The redfish were about normal. Although, we did land three 3 pound redfish. This is about as big a redfish as we ever get. And one of these was particularly long (old). We did catch one barndoor skate. Our wolffish catch was down but not as far down as it was during the 2008 and the 2009 fishing seasons. The 2008 Bunny Clark fishing season saw the lowest number of wolffish caught with a total count of 46 fish. The catch has never been that low since. May 1, 2010 saw the prohibition of landing wolffish. We stopped targeting them since that date and only catch them incidentally while targeting other species. We did catch some big wolffish last season. My feeling is that we could have caught more wolffish last season had they been legal to keep. We were able to get some nice pictures on a couple of occasions before releasing the wolffish back to the ocean alive.

The shark scene was different this year. The porbeagle sharks (mackerel sharks) were there when we started but left the grounds earlier than usual. The blue sharks arrived on the scene two weeks earlier than planned (the first week in July). They bothered us bringing fish up from the bottom as they normally do. And it was the first ultra marathon that they were really a pest and were the difference between landing a cod of 20 pounds or not. But they only really bothered us on the offshore grounds and only in certain areas. It used to be that when you got into the blue sharks they were everywhere. Not last year; in most cases, you could move a little bit further away and get away from them. Strange. And they left us earlier than normal which I thought was different. When they left the porbeagle sharks took their place in the fall. We never did land a porbeagle shark last year. We did have many chances to do so. And, from what I heard, the porbeagle sharks hung around the fishing grounds for weeks after our last trip on November 4.

We did not land a single bluefin tuna last season. We might have had two hook-ups or more. The hook-ups I remember were with fish much too large for us to handle with recreational groundfish equipment.

The improvements made the winter before the 2013 season set us up for a more comfortable season. These were items that helped in engine maintenance, cosmetics (which help when cleaning after a day of fishing) and function. These were not things that the regular angler would notice and not worth mentioning here.

Improvements this winter will include all the normal cosmetic work that Ian Keniston and Jared Keniston are so good at. They have made a science out of making the Bunny Clark look beautiful every spring. We are replacing our secondary sounding machine with the new CHIRP (Compressed High Impact Radar Pulse) technology machine. This sounding machine outperforms the best traditional sounding machines at all depths to 10,000 feet. Depths of 400 to 600 feet can be really tough with the traditional machine. And when you increase power to get a better look at the bottom, you lose resolution. With the CHIRP machine, you can get resolution down to a half inch at all depths as opposed to resolution in feet at just over 600 feet with the traditional machine. I'm not going to tell you how it works because I can't explain it to myself. What I do know is that instead of seeing a mass of fish in a school, you can see different individual fish in groups. It also allows you to see the bottom without interference due to water bubbles in the water column regardless of speed. It's an expensive machine but it would be at this junction anyway. This machine was not available at this time last year. Other improvements will include two new AGM batteries to replace the older house batteries that have been in place for too many years now. We will be changing out and reinforcing the deck beams on the port side of the engine room the same as we did on the starboard side two years ago. There will be a few lighting changes. And, of course, we have repairs that we have been waiting to address since we discovered the items during the season. These items including replacing a cracked hydraulic pump bracket, replacing a worn Delron bushing at the rudder shoe, reinforcing the steering wheel, etc., etc. The list to address every fall is seventy-five items long (more or less). Some of the items (like cosmetics) appear on the list every year. Some are new. [Justin Hopkins is shown right in a Captain Ian Keniston digital image holding his 4 pound whiting, the largest whiting we have seen in many years. ]

There were no new improvements on fishing equipment for the beginning of the 2013 fishing season. There was no need. Two of the places I rely on most heavily for our 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 to my specifications and offers them to the public. When we need new rods I order appropriately from either place - as I did at the beginning of last season. 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 www.lavjigs.net or by emailing John at johnfishon@comcast.net. 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. We believe the dull Lavjigs work better in the deeper water. And that's not to say his other jigs don't work as well. I am reminded (by John) that he caught a 50 pound cod while using one of his new 10 ounce jigs within sight of the Bunny Clark (on a day when I was captain) in April. Ouch! Please, John, no more!

Our web site at http://www.bunnyclark.com 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 canít 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.

This is the second season in which we didn't continue our cod tagging program. This was mostly the result of an inadequate amount of time to spend tagging fish, a reluctance in angler participation and a decrease in cod landings over the last two seasons. 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.

Although we maintain a healthy Maine state trophy program to recognize larger than normal fish, we had no potential world or Maine state records. Justin Hopkins (RI) came close to the whiting world record when he boated his 4 pound whiting during the extreme day trip on June 26th. The All-Tackle IGFA world record for whiting, also called a silver hake, is 4.51 pounds caught by Erik Callahan on the Bunny Clark in August of 1995. The other close call involved Paul Smegal (MA) who landed a 43 pound Maine state trophy white hake on June 20th. The All-Tackle IGFA world record white hake is currently 46.25 pounds and held by John Audet (ME) who caught his fish off the Bunny Clark in October of 1986. You can check out all of our current and past world and state records by accessing the records link at http://www.bunnyclark.com or by going directly to http://www.bunnyclark.com/records.htm.

The Federal recreational fishing regulations will remain the same as they did last season until May 1, 2014 or until the beginning of the 2014 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 16th, a twenty-one 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.

As far as upcoming 2014 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 2013, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) went forth with the New England Fishery Management Council's vote 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). Of that, the recreational portion (called the sub-ACL) was 486 metric tons or about 38%. Preliminary figures are showing that the recreational angler caught 706 metric tons or 145% of the recreational sub-ACL. Even worse, the preliminary figures for haddock show that 246% of the recreational haddock sub-ACL was also caught. The recreational angler was given a total of 74 metric tons of haddock for the season. The NMFS is saying that the recreational angler caught 256 metric tons of haddock during fiscal 2013. Tables pertaining to the findings were put out by the NMFS showing the landings per vessel type on a per month basis. Those figures, even by their own standard of precision, are inaccurate and show that many more fish were landed than common sense would tell you actually were landed. The first meeting to discuss this will take place on February 19, 2014 at the Recreational Advisory Panel meeting. From there it will go to the full Councl meeting on February 25, 2014. Based on how the Council votes, NMFS will come out with a ruling before May 1, 2014. And, at this rate, it might come out just before May 1. 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, 2014.

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 largest of each significant species during the 2013 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 anglerís 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.

NAME (STATE)

FISH - lbs.

LENGTH X GIRTH (inches)

DATE CAUGHT

Pat Sweenor (NY)

Horsepipe Clay 7

09-16-13

Marco Forte (ITA)

Cod 18.5

10-02-13

Arnie Ulrich (NJ)

Monkfish 14

05-04-13

Stuffy House (NY)

Barndoor Skate 18

 

09-16-13

Justin Hopkins (RI)

Whiting 4

 

06-26-13

Don Johnson (MA)

Redfish 3.0

18.25 X 14

07-16-13

Michelle Howard (NY)

Redfish 3.0

17.5 X 14

09-12-13

Ed Bryce (VT)

Redfish 3.0

17 X 13.5

06-04-13

David MacDonald (MA)

Redfish 2.8

17.5 X 12.5

07-16-13

Joe Wieter (CT)

Redfish 2.75

16.5 X 13.5

06-04-13

Matt Savarie (NY)

Wolffish 20***

06-17-13

Larry Burns (NY)

Wolffish 18***

06-13-13

Greg Messier (ME)

Wolffish 17.5***

08-07-13

Dave Harris (MA)

Wolffish 16.25***

06-05-13

Jamie Tandy (NH)

Wolffish 15***

05-05-13

Micah Tower (ME)

Pollock 25.5

42 X 23.5

08-20-13

Norman Leger, Jr. (MA)

Pollock 25.25

43 X 22

06-06-13

Will Emerson (TN)

Pollock 23.5

09-06-13

Ray Westermann (MA)

Pollock 23

07-16-13

Dan Neumann (ME)

Pollock 23

10-11-13

Paul Smegal (MA)

White Hake 43

48.5 X 32

06-20-13

Tim Williams (CT)

White Hake 40

47.5 X 31

07-02-13

Eric Vigneault (QC)

White Hake 36

48.5 X 32

07-09-13

Linda Paul (ME)

White Hake 35.25

47 X 32

07-09-13

Micah Tower (ME)

White Hake 34.5

44.5 X 29

07-02-13

Micah Tower (ME)

White Hake 34

48.5 X 27

09-20-13

Greg Fitzgerald (VT)

Haddock 9

29.5 X 17

04-29-13

Jeff Tague (PA)

Haddock 8.25

26 X 18

04-29-13

Chris Serino (MA)

Haddock 8

28 X 16

05-18-13

Dan Kelley (ME)

Haddock 8

27.75 X 17.5

05-22-13

Justin Philbrick (NH)

Haddock 7.5

26.5 X 16

05-06-13

Lillian Silver (NY)

Haddock 7.25

27 X 16

08-19-13

Rick Gurney (MA)

Haddock 7.1

27 X 15

04-26-13

Don Stancil (PA)

Cusk 26.5

40.5 X 24.5

10-16-13

Jon Griffin (MA)

Cusk 24

40 X 23

07-10-12

Alec Levine (ME)

Cusk 21*

08-26-13

Ted Harris (PA)

Cusk 17.5

34 X 20

10-16-13

Shawn Rosenberger (PA)

Cusk 17

33.5 X 19.5

10-16-13

John Sprengelmeyer, Jr. (CT)

Cusk 17

38.5 X 18

10-25-13

John Ross (MA)

Halibut 29.5

09-16-13

Chris Albert (ME)

Halibut 22

05-05-13

Emile Gallant (ME)

Halibut 22

06-18-13

Jim Brady (NY)

Halibut 13**

06-21-13

Justin Jourdanais (NY)

Halibut 9**

09-16-13

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

* Alec caught this cusk on our lobster boat, the Petrel, with Micah Tower as the master/captain. The fish was weighed round after the trip was over on the dock in Ogunquit.

** 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.

  • Micah Tower was the only angler to appear more than once in the top five trophy list for the 2013 Bunny Clark fishing season. He landed the largest pollock for the second season in a row, the fifth largest white hake and the sixth largest white hake.

  • The haddock that appear in the trophy list above were all the trophy haddock that were caught during the 2013 Bunny Clark fishing season. Last season had, without a doubt, the smallest average with respect to haddock size that I have ever seen, most being sub-legal and very few being much over 3.5 pounds round. But, as mentioned, we caught more haddock than any other recreational fishing season that I have ever witnessed on any vessel I have ever been aboard.

  • We had to import a recreational fisherman from Italy to catch our largest cod, Marco Forte. As mentioned, this is the first time one of my boats hasn't caught a cod over 20 pounds in a season, ever! Our greatest opportunity to catch a cod over 20 pounds occurred on our annual ultra marathon during the middle of July offshore when three anglers probably would have boated a steaker. It was also the time of our first major blue shark attack of the season. Dick Lyle (PA) lost a steaker we almost got to gaff before dropping it. Jon Griffin landed a 15.5 pound head/shoulder part of a cod that was half eaten. And Dave Gray (VT) landed just the cod head. A blue shark had taken most of the fish right up to the gills! Dave's cod head weighed 12 pounds! It was just not our year for steaker cod!

    [On the left is a shot taken on April 8, 2013 (the first day of the season - a marathon trip) of Frank Noble (ME) holding the first legal haddock of the season. The haddock weighed 3 pounds.]

  • I know horsepipe clay is not a fish but Pat sure thought it was!

  • As mentioned previously, Justin Hopkins (RI) caught, what is probably, the second biggest whiting the Bunny Clark has ever seen. Fred Kunz (NH) probably caught the next four largest whiting. But we don't keep track of the whiting as much as we do the other species. And whiting haven't been a species that we include in the "top five" list. When I was much younger, I caught one that weighed 7 pounds. That was not unusual then. We used whiting larger than 7 pounds as hook-baits to catch bluefin tuna between 1972 and 1975. The whiting seem to be starting to come back as the larger ones are much more commonly found. I credit the closed fishing areas for this good news.

  • We didn't see the numbers of hake over 40 pounds that we saw in the last several seasons. I don't believe there were as many of the bigger hake around last season. But we also, as mentioned, didn't target them as often.

  • We didn't land any porbeagle sharks last season but we did have our chances. On May 9, 2013, Captain Ally Fuehrer (ME) got her shark up to the surface for a few seconds where it started rolling and wrapping itself up in her fishing line. By the time, someone got to her side with a gaff, it had sunk low enough that it couldn't be reached. Shortly thereafter, the abrasive skin of the shark cut her line and swam down and away. Other anglers hooked into porbeagles during the month of May and lost them without even getting a glimpse of the fish (except on the surface from a distance). All of these were big sharks. On October 30, 2013, Dan Kelley hooked into three porbeagle sharks and lost every one of them!

  • We didn't catch as many monkfish last season either. But this is the luck of the draw. We have had similar monkfish seasons even when groundfish stocks were much healthier.

  • This is the third 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.
  • Stuffy House landed our only barndoor skate last season. We have only landed six 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 and only in the last few years. I, again, give credit to having areas closed to commercial dragging for the increase.

  • Although we landed nine halibut during the 2013 Bunny Clark fishing season, we lost at least two of our largest halibut mainly due to a combination of their larger size and angler bad luck. On May 21, 2013, Bryan Lewer (FL) lost a big halibut while fishing in the pulpit (after getting it almost within gaffing range) at the end of a long run straight back to bottom. He was fishing a jig and fly combination which weakens the line significantly (the dropper loop). And, if the fish had taken the jig, the fly could have easily caught on another part of its body, the constant flexing involved in swimming popping the line. We have caught seven halibut on that very same spot in the last three seasons. Jim Jefski (MA) had a similar experience on June 4, 2013. He almost got the fish close enough to gaff when it took a run straight to bottom and broke the jig off in the process.

    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 2013 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-í13): Shawn Rosenberger (PA) won this award for the second time in as many seasons. And he won it initially by three points. Rules of this game are such that if you are within thirty points of your nearest competitor, we use comparative value points (CVP) on the trips when both anglers were present/fishing. The points on those days are counted again and added to the total. Ray Westermann (MA) was the closest to Shawn. However, on the days Shawn fished with Ray, Shawn took Ray for a few extra points, thus widening the gap. It could have gone the other way. In this case, it did not. Shawn's fishing schedule is most different from anyone else's - he fishes as many days as he can in an almost three week period. And, for years, it hurt him in this category as he only fishes in the fall. The fall usually sees the Bunny Clark in port more often than other times of the season due to heavy weather. Even if you are the best, and Shawn is certainly one of the best, if you can't leave the dock you can't perform. When he won for the 2012 season, he was magic. Last season, it wasn't so obvious, mainly because his competitors were also doing very well and doing well throughout the season. The bottom line, regardless, is that he did the best and certainly deserves all the accolades that go along with it.

    [The picture on the left is a shot of Shawn during a marathon trip in October. He is holding a 31 pound Maine state trophy white hake with which he won the boat pool for the second largest fish that day.]

    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 as he was the year before. 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 about three of those trips. Some of the exceptional things he did that set him apart from the rest included attaining high hook status on more occasions than any other fisherman in the competition, boating thirteen trophies (the third most for an angler last season), tying with Jon Griffin for the most trophies for a single trip, catching one of the top three fish on six different trips 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 so close 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. And I worried last year that he wasn't going to book any trips as he booked them so late in the season. Thank you so very much, Shawn. Congratulations, you made my year! Again!

    Shawn's total point count was 121 (including CVPs). Ray Westermann took second place with a point total of 113 (including CVPs). Jon Griffin came in third with 93 points. Fred Kunz was fourth with 73 points. And Norm Herrick (MA) was fifth with 44 points. Incidentally, Micah Tower, had he been competing, would have come in third with 106 points.

    Female Angler of the Year: Last season there was no one who met the criteria to deserve this award. That isn't to say we didn't have any great female anglers aboard. I can name the top four who did well every trip they sailed with us. And they included Linda Paul (ME) with her largest ever hake caught last season, Marian "Merv" Murphy (NH) who was high hook, a pool winner or one of the top anglers on the trips she attended, Rebecca Hammer (NH), ditto, and Olivia Maxam (NY), who quite often gives her brother and father quite a drubbing! If the award was a tangible thing, I would get all four of these anglers together, toss it in the air, see who came up with it and call it good!

    Best Bait Fisherman: Shameless Ray ďThe Pole Tossing Master BaiterĒ Westermann (MA) landed this award again last year - as he has for the last six seasons in a row. Last year he was so close to becoming the FY'13, he probably thought he was. I know everyone else felt that way including Ian Keniston, Jared Keniston and I! Having said that, a lot of his success is due to the fact that does whatever it takes to catch fish. He jig fishes when the fish are being caught that way and bait fishes when most of the fish are spitting up their food. But, more than that, he goes the extra distance when bait is concerned. From smelly jellies to rubber squid to special fresh bait to shrimp, he is on top of his game all the time. And frankly, there is no one better who I can think of on the Bunny Clark. And he meets all the criteria to be there! Congrats, Ray. Always great to have you aboard!

    Most Aces: For those who donít 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 ďaceĒ status. There were six aces last season, the most we have had in a long time. This after having a season before where not a single ace was landed (2012)! The two best aces (my opinion, of course) were a "double ace" (the four biggest fish of the trip) caught on September 9, 2013 by Keith Quigel (PA) during an extreme day trip and an ace caught by Tom Miller (NH) during the marathon trip of October 28, 2013. Keith's "double" included a 19.5 pound pollock, a 15 pound pollock, a 14.5 pound pollock and a 14 pound pollock. Tom's ace included a 22.5 pound pollock, a 20.5 pound pollock and a 16 pound pollock. Other aces included one by Norm Herrick on an extreme day trip April 23, 2013 that included a 15 pound pollock, an 8.5 pound pollock and an 8.25 pound pollock. Marty Nephew's (NY) ace during a day trip on the 26th of July that included a 12 pound pollock, an 11 pound pollock and another 11 pound pollock. What's even more impressive about Marty's ace was that it happened the day of one of our biggest blue shark attacks. Sometimes in those situations you are lucky to get a fish in the boat, never mind the three largest! Matt Rocco's "double ace" on an afternoon trip July 30, 2013 that included a 4.5 pound pollock, a 4 pound pollock, a 3.5 pound pollock and a 3 pound pollock. And, last but not least, Brian "Mr. Hockey" Walsh (NJ) with an ace during the August 9, 2013 full day trip that included an 11 pound pollock, a 10.5 pound pollock and a 9 pound pollock. You never can predict what is going to happen fishing on the ocean. And that's a lot of the fun of deep sea fishing! [Speaking of excellent female anglers, Jackie Paskal (ME), shown left, only fishes with me a couple of times in the spring. But she does very well, particularly with bait for the haddock. In the picture on the left she is holding a 5 pound haddock that she caught last year in the middle of April. We very much enjoy abusing her when she is aboard! ]

    Most Trophy Fish (including hake over 15 pounds, cod & pollock over 20 pounds and monkfish, wolffish & halibut in the top five) of the Season: Micah Tower caught the most with a count of fifteen. Jon Griffin was second with fourteen trophy fish for the season. Shawn Rosenberger and Ray Westermann tied for third with a total count of thirteen trophies. Fred Kunz was fifth with a count of seven.

    Most Trophy Fish during a Trip: Micah Tower caught the most trophies for a single trip with a count of six. Jon Griffin, Bob Key (PA) and Shawn Rosenberger tied for second place with five trophy fish. Mike Lewis (MA), Ray Westermann and Chuck Pedro (CT) tied for fifth place with four trophy fish each.

    Most Pools (largest fish of the trip): Fred Kunz, Ray Westerman, Don Stancil and Ken McLaughlin (ME) tied for the most pools of the season with a count of three pools each. Guy Hesketh (CT), Norm Herrick, Jon Griffin, Brian Walsh, Shawn Rosenberger, Micah Tower, Dave Harris (MA), Jared Keniston, Ken Fowler (PA) and Arnie Ulrich (NY) tied for second place with two pool fish each.

    High Hook: Bryan Lewer was high hook (the most legal fish on a trip) on nine different occasions, the most for an angler during the 2013 Bunny Clark fishing season. Shawn Rosenberger came in second with seven counts. Fred Kunz was alone in third place recording six trips where he maintained high hook status.

    Biggest Double: (The most combined weight of two fish caught on the same line at the same time.) Gary Miller (NY) captured the largest double keeper catch of the season early in the fall. His double included a 31 pound Maine state trophy white hake and a 17.5 pound white hake. The second largest double keeper catch was actually a tie between Chris Porter (MA) and Steve Potter, Jr. (ME). Both doubles included a 19 pound white hake and a 15 pound hake. These catches also happened in the fall on two separate trips about a month apart from each other. The fourth largest double keeper catch was caught by Ray Westermann. His catch included a 17 pound white hake and a 15 pound white hake. His fish were landed during a marathon trip in the early fall. Len Duda (ME) came in at number five with a double keeper catch that included a 16.5 pound pollock and a 15 pound pollock. Incidentally, all the biggest double keeper catches of the season were exclusively pollock catches until after September 1 when we started following the deep edges of the bottom offshore.

    Hardest Luck:This has to go to Steve Brown (ME) who brought his friend out on an extreme day trip to show him some good fishing and, in fact, teach him how to fish. On the first spot, even before the boat had stopped, Steve had his pole already rigged up with a jig at the end. Jared Keniston heard Steve say to his friend; "This is how you cast a jig." Steve swung the jig underhand a couple of times to get momentum and launched the jig, rod, reel and line right overboard - the works, gone in an instant. His friend looked at him as if to say; "How would you ever get your fish back to the boat fishing like that?". At any rate, Ian Keniston was running the boat while I was at the dock waiting for the Bunny Clark to put the wooden anchors out. As people started to depart, Ian or Jared started in on Steve. "Don't even ask", Steve told me when he got off the boat. So I didn't get the whole story until after he had left to go home. Whatever happened, it seemed like Steve's friend really enjoyed the trip, possibly at Steve's expense! Losing a rod & reel setup is bad, I know, but being on the receiving end of all the abuse from Ian and Jared has got to be the worst!

    Second place has to go to Don Johnson (MA). On an early spring trip, Don was loading the truck to come up to Maine fishing. As he was putting his rod and reel aboard he must have clipped the eccentric lever on his reel. Arriving in Ogunquit, Don went to grab his rod only to find out that there wasn't a thread of fishing line on his reel! At some point on the ride to Maine, with the eccentric lever in the open position, the wind must have caught the trailing end of his line and spooled his reel as he and his daughter, Bethanie, were driving up. Not only was he unable to fish with his reel that day, he was also out $80 to $100.00 worth of Spectra line! To make matters worse, his dory mate, Bethanie, must have left her stomach at the dock. She was awarded the hardest luck of the day for being the high hurler on the trip! Ouch, that has got to hurt! [The picture on the left is a shot of ten year old Stephen Feeney (MA) on his maiden voyage aboard the Bunny Clark. He is shown holding a 3.5 pound haddock in his right hand and a 1.5 pound redfish in his left. Stephen caught twenty-one haddock that day, one of the high hooks on keeper haddock for the 2013 Bunny Clark fishing season.]

    And third place in the worst luck department would have to go to Jim Wilson (ME) who for the second time in a row, in as many years, did not catch a legal fish on the Bunny Clark. This after he was told that the Bunny Clark was the vessel to fish from to be assured of bringing fish home! And this during a year where the legal fish count per person was probably the highest we have seen since I started taking anglers on the Bunny Clark in 1983. The question remains: will he try it again this season? I am certainly not hoping for a hat trick!

    Most Improved Angler: This honorable mention has to go to Howard "Short Fish" Hall (MA) who started the season catching a dogfish a drop and getting hopelessly tangled to boot. The middle of the season saw Howard starting to lose the dogfish and replacing them with short fish. By the end of the season Howard was catching only the occasional dogfish and a sub-legal cod a drop. I know you are probably thinking that this isn't much of an improvement. But if you saw all the dogfish he brought aboard at the beginning of the season and then got a glimpse of his fall fishing, you would notice a big change. And one thing is for sure, Howard was probably the happiest fisherman getting off the boat at the end of the trip. I always used to wonder; "Is he just happy to get away from the Bunny Clark and all the abuse or did he really have a good time?" I was too afraid to ask!

    Best Team: The best team of the year during the 2013 Bunny Clark fishing season was Zach Freitas and his son Matt. They were a fishing machine together on the bow of the Bunny Clark. They loved the extreme day trips with Ian and Jared. And since I wasn't there I wasn't sure if it was the way they rotated positions or if it was just combined skill. All I know is that they were always high hook and most always had one of the biggest fish of the trip. On the October 5, 2013 extreme day trip with Captain Jared Keniston and deck hand Alec Levine, Team Freitas held a high hook clinic on the Bunny Clark and caught probably half of all the fish landed that day. According to Jared it was a fish a cast from the start of the fishing until the end for those two. And when they came back to the dock it looked like it. In fact, I heard so much about them during the season that I had to write a note to myself so I would remember them in this yearly missive!

    Exceptional Good Luck: The only experience that came to mind for this category was John Ross (MA) landing his first halibut after snagging the fish on the outer edge of body near the fin. I am still amazed that he landed that fish. Maybe I should entitle this category "Exceptional Skill". Oh, and there is always a little luck involved when something like this happens.

    Quote of the Year: On every Guestletter I have always been able to find a funny quote to put here. Not this year. I did have a very funny quote from Dan Starvish (CT), the most patient fisherman I know, but at the time he said it, I was busy doing something else and forgot to write it down! Ian also remembers laughing at Dan's comment but couldn't come up with it either. So you'll have to be satisfied with a complement paid by Steve Shugars (ME) to Captain Ian Keniston after the extreme day trip of September 4, 2013. I asked Steve at the dock how his trip was. His answer: "I caught a legal fish on every cast and have never caught so many doubles in my life." You have to understand that Steve Shugars has consistently been one of the Bunny Clark's best jig fishermen ever since he stepped on her gunwales two decades ago. And one of the best things about Steve is that he's not afraid to release many legal cod back to the ocean alive! Many commercial fisherman have made a living because of Steve Shugars! For Steve to make that comment it must have been some trip! [The picture on the right is a shot of John Ross showing the underside of the Bunny Clark's largest halibut of the season which John landed on the September 16, 2013 marathon trip. The fish did not bite his hook. He foul hooked this fish on the very outside of the halibut in the fin! Had he put any more strain on this fish than he did, the hook would have ripped out of the fish and we would only be speculating on the species of fish he might have had.]

    Most Unusual Catch: During an extreme day trip on September 19, 2013, Robert Chalut (QC) and Ismail Ouicher (QC) both won the boat pool with a 17 pound pollock. This isn't that unusual as any two anglers can catch a fish of the same size from time to time. However, in this case, it was the same fish! Robert's hook was in the corner of the jaw on the left side of the fish. Ismail's hook was in the corner of the jaw on the right side of the fish!

    In late October on my birthday during a marathon trip a 24 pound white hake was caught by Rob Wright (MA). It was the second largest fish landed that day. However, he lost the fish on the surface when a shark of enormous proportion bit into it, took it under the boat, broke his line and left the fish floating on the opposite side of the boat near the hauler. As luck would have it. I was already there with a gaff to snatch it out of the water. I can't imagine what kind of shark it was except that it was certainly a lamnid (lamnidae family which includes the makos, porbeagle and great white sharks) shark of some type. It was as big and long as a big great white, too large to be a porbeagle and the water too cold to hold a mako or a great white. Or was it? So what was it? It only bit the hake once but the length of the teeth marks in the fish were thirty inches long with very much widely spaced teeth. It was certainly one of the stranger things I have seen out here. Plus, it was overcast at the time which made it hard for me to get as good a look into the water at the big fish as I would have had it been sunny out. At any rate, Rob didn't bring his fish to gaff so it didn't count in the boat pool. But the shark identification remains a mystery to me.

    Unexplained Phenomena:

  • After many years of warning me that he was going to book a trip on the Bunny Clark, Greg Veprek (MA) showed up to sail on the September 27, 2013 marathon trip. For two months prior we sent emails back and forth with Greg trying to decide on a date where he would benefit by catching the most cod. When he started to think about it, we were catching cod hand over fist. Cod fishing got worse as time went on so that when he did show up, I was afraid that we wouldn't even see a legal cod. Greg did quite well on that trip. Sure he caught more pollock than cod. But on a cool winter morning I drove up the driveway to our house to find a container of smoked pollock fillets sitting on the door step, a gift from Greg. It was one of the best pieces of smoked fish I have ever had.
  • On May 6, 2013, Mike Schetter (NY) caught the most fish for an angler during a single trip on any trip the Bunny Clark hosted in 2013. How many fish did Mike catch? I dare not say; he might be issued his own sub-ACL or, worse, he might be banned from the fishery if the Feds ever found out!
  • During the J. C. Stevens Construction Company Summer Charter, Jamie Surprenant (MA) got a chest piercing from a 9/0 jig treble hook. My question is: Was this a mistake or is it the new look?
  • Fred Kunz fishes all day with a jig and fly, conceding high hook status to a much younger angler, Bryan Lewer (FL), only to find out that the fly hook had snapped off during the early part of the trip. I was wondering why Fred only had one double keeper catch during the early part of the trip and Bryan kept catching double after double. I was beginning to think that the "Great One" had lost it. I'm happy to say that I felt much better after I found out why. But the question remains; when did Fred actually find out that the hook was missing? He is getting a bit softer in his older age!

  • Ray Westermann and Jon Griffin brought ice cream and assorted frozen dairy delights on the "mini" Ultra Marathon trip in July as they did (for the first time) on the Ultra the year before. This year's trip provided more anglers to share the loot. The extra anglers didn't faze Ray or Jon one bit, a good example of the very special people we take on the Bunny Clark!
  • I reiterate: 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).
  • Don Spencer (VT) was the best angler aboard with the most fish during that early spring marathon trip. What I want to know is: what happened to Don on the last trip of the year? He couldn't have used up all his luck on that first trip! And I don't want to hear a word out of you, Ed Garrett (VT).
  • Am I now going to have to have a Rory MacEachern Hat Trick designation? If I do I'm told it will have to be over three trips; one trip you win the hard luck award, another you attain high hook status and on one you win the boat pool. On second thought, that's too much for an old brain like mine!
  • Ah, Donna Moran (NY)! Was it worth buying Frank Noble's place on that fateful Thursday in August? Does your answer lie in the fact that I never saw you again after that trip?
  • Kris Racer (WI) may never fish on the Bunny Clark again. This because Ogunquit is a long way from Wisconsin. However, I would be willing to bet that she will never forget that fish she had on her line that just would not stop! Was it a tuna or a halibut? We were drifting fast so, whatever it was, was "enhanced", very much so!
  • Bruce Goldschmitt (MA) enters the boat pool for the first time after many many trips on the Bunny Clark - and wins? Does that tell you anything? My experience after many many Bunny Clark fishing trips tells me no. However, it does make you part of the biggest group aboard!
  • During last trip of the Bunny Clark fishing season I saw more legal fish snagged than I did on any other trip during the season. This is a sure sign that the boat was placed right over the fish. It's also a sure sign that the fish don't want to bite. It was a damn good thing we had some excellent anglers aboard or that last spot of the day would not have been so successful. And leading the charge that late afternoon was a Mr. Harris on the bow and a Mr. Kunz fishing from the stern. Who knew?

    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 passed. It's with an extra deal of sadness that I have to mention the passing of four very wonderful people including the most wonderful person in my life.

  • Little did I know that when I called the "mini-ultra" marathon to head home at 3:00 PM on July 16, 2013, my father was taking his last breath in my mother's arms. I found out in a round about way in a text four hours later ten miles from shore. And then the message wasn't clear. All it said was that "I am very sorry for your loss". I grabbed the satellite phone and called my wife who gave me the news. Our son was aboard and it was all I could do to look at him, call him over and relay the news. I was glad he was there. And I guess the love between a father and a son is different for every father and son out there. But the loss of my father was only tempered slightly by the hug of my own son, far enough away from home to be uncomfortable. My father was good to me all my life. He introduced me to the sea from his herring seiner in a baby carriage with mackerel all around the wheels. It was a black and white picture so I'm not sure if the carriage was blue or pink. But compared to my father, it should have been pink. My father was a vital brutally honest, fair man who wanted me to work in his Barnacle Billy's restaurant when I decided to leave it at eighteen years old. I had been lobstering and tuna fishing and working at Barnacle Billy's, a jack of all trades (like I am now). But I wanted to be a master of one so I went to college and focused on fishing. Dad and Mom tried to convince me otherwise. But when I told them I was firm, my father and mother backed me up as if it was the only thing I should do. Dad even booked the Mary E, my first charter boat, anonymously only to surprise me at the dock to tell me he wanted to go tuna fishing, just he and I, which we did. When I bought the Bunny Clark to take anglers fishing, he couldn't understand my love for it. He had been a commercial fisherman before getting into the restaurant business in 1962. He had tried taking "highlanders" as they were called back then but only lasted a couple of trips. The love of the chase wasn't lost when I started taking anglers fishing. It was enhanced because I wasn't only chasing fish, I was taking friends as most of my anglers became. One of my goals was to make 200 days in a row fishing on the Bunny Clark. For many seasons it was 184 or 189 days. One year it was 196 just before a noreaster. But two days after I got married, April 4, 1990, I went every day on the Bunny Clark for 204 days in a row, ending the run on October 22, 1990. Unbeknownst to me, my father was following the dates as well. When I ended the 200th day, he showed up with my mother and a bottle of champagne as the boat pulled into the dock. Many of those anglers who were aboard for that trip still fish with me today. Occasionally, one of them will remind me of that wonderful memory.

    In 1996, I approached my father to see if I could get back into the restaurant business. I had told my wife, Deb, that if we had kids, I would make time ashore for them. My brother, Court, had quit Barnacle Billy's (it turned out to be temporary) and my father was open to suggestions. We drove around in his signature Chevy station wagon (he had given up trucks years earlier) and consummated the deal. I said that I supposed I should sell the Bunny Clark. We were parked at Ogunquit beach. At which point he asked if I still liked doing it. I wasn't going to lie. I love the Bunny Clark business. "No", he said. "I think you should keep the fishing business". "It's something you love and we can work around it." That's the kind of father he was. When his health started to wane in the last few years, I felt sorry for his loss of physical vitality. In my mind, he was still the hard driving commercial fisherman I grew up with. And, even without his physical strength, his mind and drive were as strong as ever. I never had a friend as true as my father, nor a friend I liked better. And when I did get married, he was my best man at the wedding. He still is and always will be. [The picture on the right is the best picture that Captain Ian Keniston took last season, my opinion, of course. The subject is Matt Savarie holding the largest wolffish of the 2013 fishing season at 20 pounds. Matt's parents, Chris & Pat, started fishing with me before Matt was born. Matt has become one heck of a fisherman himself!]

  • One of the best fishing families in Perkins Cove is the McIntire Family. Sonny McIntire, the patriarch, is the best fisherman I know. Sonny's father, Carl McIntire, was my favorite fisherman and mentor growing up in Ogunquit. I became a much better fisherman later in life because of Carl. Needless to say, the family is very important to me and to everyone else who has ever known them or fished beside them and wondered: "What the hell am I doing wrong!" Sonny had a son, Billy McIntire, a hell of a fisherman in his own right, who passed away this summer. He had decided to take his boat, his first boat, bought only a year earlier, out on a cruise on a warm summer night with a couple girls and a friend. Billy fell overboard and was never seen again (August 22/23, 2013). What exactly went on, I don't know. But somehow he ended up in the water. The bottom was scoured for days afterward but the body was never found. Rumors that he was seen in a bar in Key West three days later were unfounded. He would have liked that comment (otherwise I wouldn't have said it). But it was a shame that Billy couldn't get a proper burial and his mother and father couldn't get closure. But, if I know Billy, I think that this is the way he would have wanted to go, had he been given all the options. There are so many worse ways to go. And he left us at fifty-one years young, while he still had the rascal in him, enjoying life more than anyone can. I can't say he was the most responsible man I know, but he was one of the most likeable. The town of Ogunquit mourns one of their own. I will miss Billy.

  • Ron Roy (NH), long time Bunny Clark angler and friend, passed away from cancer on August 22, 2013, the morning of the day that Billy McIntire took his boat out of Perkins Cove for the last time. Ron made many fishing trips with me. On one of those trips, he caught his two largest cod. I believe his largest was a 54 pounder, well bigger than anything we saw last year. In 2008, he developed prostate cancer and was told to get his affairs in order. He called to tell me. I told him to get his GP to send him to Dana-Farber in Boston, the place I support so vigorously. He did this. He was cured a year later. However, the last few years he had family problems leading to emotional problems later. Things just spiraled out of control after that. The cancer came back. He didn't do anything about it. And eventually it killed him. Attitude is so important in fighting anything. If you don't have a good one, you can give up and go down hill. This is what I think happened to Ron. The last two years we didn't see much of Ron. But it didn't mean that we didn't want to. I was trying to get him to go fishing with us before his health problems got so bad that he couldn't. I'm not sure I could have changed his attitude but I certainly wanted to give it a try. Ron will be missed by us all. He was my age.

  • MÓllÓ LePerche (MA) was a wonderful friend of mine and of our family's. She left this world on August 23, 2013, probably the same day that Billy McIntire was lost. Unlike the rest, MÓllÓ never fished on the Bunny Clark. She used to meet me at the dock with her husband, George, when I would come in after a day of fishing on the Bunny Clark. After George passed, much too early, she continued to come up in the summer, meet me at the dock and eat at Barnacle Billy's, a daily routine. Health problems kept her from being up in Ogunquit the last couple of years. And so I got the news from one of her daughters a little later. MÓllÓ was an excellent artist and would often do things on a paper napkin that others would frame. But more than that, she was another stable force in my life. It never seemed like she was that much older than I except in the advice she gave. A sage? Possibly. She loved reading my daily fishing updates from this web site. Her daughters would print out several days worth and bring them to her to read. She was interested in what I was doing right until the end. Her health was such that I didn't expect her to be here forever. No one gets that chance. I can only hope that the end wasn't too hard on her. I didn't know her exact age but I believe she made the ninety year mark easily.

    I want to throw out a personal thank you to Captain Ian Keniston and Captain Jared Keniston for the wonderful work they do every year for me. And I do mean every year. When they aren't running the boat, working as deck hands and/or cleaning the Bunny Clark, they are working to make her look pretty again. They do all the cosmetic work (sanding, painting, etc.) and some of the repairs during the winter months. Not only would it be a hard thing to lose them but, in fact, I'm not sure I could keep running the business without them. They do exactly as I ask them to do but do a better job at it than if it were just me running the show. And they still maintain their unique personalities, show the love of fishing every day and enjoying all the anglers who fish with us. Now, when I make a decision on the boat, the three of us sit down together to come up with a solution. It's not just me anymore. I would say that the business has evolved with them around. As a party fishing business, we provide consistent good service to the public on a regular basis. Our ability to maintain this consistency is largely due to the great work of Ian Keniston and Jared Keniston. Thank you both very much.

    Alec Levine (ME) was my swing deck hand last season as he will be this season. He started working for us during the 2011 season but skipped the 2012. We were glad to see him back with us. Alec was a quick study from the beginning. He is handy with a knife, good around the boat and very friendly and super polite with anglers. And, he's a very good fisherman in his own right. He was joined by my son, Micah Tower, on various occasions throughout the summer. Working on only a temporary basis, Micah went fishing quite a bit as well but always helped cut fish and clean on the way home. Thank you, Alec and Micah, for putting that extra special touch to an already wonderful season last year.

    At this time, I am not sure what Micah will be doing this summer. At the present time Micah is commercial longlining for pelagics (tuna, swordfish, marlin, etc.) with former Bunny Clark Captain Kenton Geer off Hawaii. He was captaining Kenton's larger boat fishing as far as 425 miles offshore earlier this winter. Now, Micah is fishing with Kenton on the smaller boat closer to shore. Whatever Micah does this summer, I hope he lets me know! I have been living vicariously through Micah and his fishing adventures.

    As for the commander in chief of Bunny Clark land based operations, 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 itís hard to remember when she took the reins over totally. Suffice it to say, the business wouldnít 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, itís 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. Iím so glad you are here - still, after all these years.

    We only had three reservationists last season. They included the good Commander, Deb, wonderful Jane and my daughter, Halley. Halley took the time to do a wonderful job taking reservations as she has done for the last eight years. She is my daughter but I have to say as objectively as I can that she is the most wonderful daughter and the most skilled people person a man could ever have in my position. Not only is she bright, she is very nice to our anglers on a consistent basis. With our other summer reservationists moving closer to full time vocations away from the Bunny Clark, she took over the extra work load like it was her job. Simply, she made it seem like we never lost anyone and did the work of two. Thanks so much Halley, just for being the hard working happy you! [The picture on the left is a shot of Don Stancil (PA) holding the largest cusk of his life and the largest cusk that was landed on the Bunny Clark last season. The cusk weighed 27 pounds, a Maine state trophy by 15 pounds.]

    This was my seventh 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 seven years of fund raising came to $180,038.63 through the Jimmy Fund, the fund raising arm of the DFCI. Last year alone I was able to raise $28,216.26 from over 300 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 from others. And for this support I am deeply grateful. I have already renewed my application for the 2014 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. In the last few years I found that nine 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, letís go fishing!

    Finally, I save the best for last. Thank you all so much for making this, our 30th season, a most excellent one. And thank you for allowing me to continue a business I so thoroughly enjoy. I enjoy fishing but I like it better doing it with you, the anglers of the Bunny Clark. I am looking forward to seeing you all this season. And I am looking toward making it a better one than last. And who knows, maybe we will land that 300 pound halibut that Bryan Lewer lost last spring! As my father would have said; "Winter Well".










    The Best of the Best



    The picture above was taken while riding in from the June 25, 2013 offshore marathon trip. We caught a lot of fish that day, enough so that Captain Ian Keniston (shown left) had to cut fish on the way back in after starting the filleting at 7:00 AM! Micah Tower, fishing that day (shown right), helped Ian cut fish, as he normally does. These two guys are the best example of what I call a good crew! The digital image was taken with my iPhone.

    If you want to send me e-mail, the current address is ttower@bunnyclark.com. The general email address is info@bunnyclark.com.

    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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