January 15, 1997

1998 Bunny Clark Guestletter

January 15, 1998

Dear Guests:

Welcome to our fifteenth guestletter and our fifteenth completed year with the Bunny Clark! The 1997 fishing season was excellent and yet much different than any previous season. The spring was windier than normal, so windy in fact that on many days, had the wind blown five knots more, we would have terminated the trip. My records show that we had our second windiest spring. Conversely, we had our second calmest summer and early fall. This was followed by a calmer-than-normal late fall.

The fishing was mostly very good to excellent on the day trips, fair to good on the half day trips and excellent (with two exceptions) on the marathon trips. Although we only landed one whale cod (Les Paul’s (ME) 51.5 pounder), the average sized fish caught was larger than the previous five seasons. The catch of large trophy fish dropped to an all time low, the fewest large trophies of any season so far. We had our second best year for haddock. There was a big increase in the landings of pollock in the size range of 7 to 10 pounds. We landed less legal fish than last year but more total weight of fish per trip than all the other previous seasons but one.

The best thing that happened to me, during the 1997 Bunny Clark season, was enjoying the exceptional crew on the boat. We were blessed with the continuation of Satch whom I have always regarded as the best mate/fisherman I have ever had the pleasure to work with (see the photo on the left showing Satch at the fillet table bundled against the spray during the ride home on the October 1, 1997 marathon trip.) Satch completed his ninth season with me last year! We witnessed the much-heralded arrival of John "JD" Daley as the new captain. JD has never worked as the primary captain aboard the Bunny Clark despite five years of me pleading with him to take the job. To finally have him aboard was a tremendous relief and I am happy to report that the experience matched all my expectations. I was extremely happy to have Captain Howard Cutler back on the boat with his pipe and good humor. An excellent captain, he kept finding most of the trophy fish ("I’ve got the dollar today, Tim!") before I could get to them. The affable Ed "Bull" Durham was the new mate last year. Although he was inexperienced with the techniques used on the Bunny Clark at first, he was a quick study and great with the guests.

On October 12, 1997, while heading back to port from the fishing grounds on a glass calm ocean with a full compliment of passengers aboard, the engine rpms died away while the engine temperature started to climb radically. I shut down the engine and after a careful check, I realized that the engine block had been compromised and that we were not going get home under our own power. We were 22 nautical miles from shore. I was able to get a tow back to Perkins Cove where I was met by a mechanic from New England Detroit Diesel-Allison (NEDDA or Power Products), Portland, Maine who pronounced the engine; ‘dead on arrival’.

The situation was obvious, I had to haul the engine out of the Bunny Clark and have it rebuilt or haul out the engine and replace it with a new engine. I decided to put in a more powerful engine of a different type, design and structure while retaining the excellent services of NEDDA for the purchase, service agreement and future repairs. The day after the breakdown, David Pease (the man who built the Bunny Clark), with the help of Barry Pitchforth and Victor Togliatti, removed the 4400 pound Detroit 8V-92 TA and placed it on the deck of the Bunny Clark. A crane was hired the next day to take the engine off the boat and transport it to NEDDA where it was used to duplicate the foot print for the new engine. Michael Parenteau and the F/V Outer Limits towed the Bunny Clark, sans engine, to Dion’s Yacht Yard. A brand new 163P Volvo was brought down from NEDDA to Dion’s where the same people who took the engine out were able to put the new one in. On October 22, the new installation was complete. If it were not for Dion’s Yacht Yard, David Pease and friends, we would have had to end the season on the day of the breakdown. Also, a special thanks to Captain Pete of the whale watching vessel First Chance out of Kennebunkport, Maine and Captain Michael Parenteau with the F/V Outer Limits for towing the Bunny Clark and her passengers home after the breakdown.

On October 23, 1997, the Bunny Clark left for her first fishing trip since the retrofit. Replacing the 650 horse power Detroit diesel with the new 770 horse Volvo gave the Bunny Clark a much faster cruising speed (three knots faster!), a quieter ride and better fuel economy. We extended the season ten more days into November to try to recoup some of the time we lost. By doing so we improved our seasons fishing portfolio and made some people very happy. The benefits of extending the season included; landing our second and third largest haddock for 1997, landing our largest and our only whale cod of the year, capturing two potential International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Junior Angler world records, one potential woman’s IGFA line class world record, achieving some personal angler bests and increasing the trophy list.

Over the winter, we will be readjusting the new engine’s position in the Bunny Clark as well as making other small improvements and rebuilding/fixing our rods, reels and equipment. The engine’s position in the engine room is critical as its weight effects the boat’s trim in the water and its distance from the bulkheads effects the ease of regular maintenance. The repositioning should also increase the boat’s speed. With increased speed and the fuel efficiency already noted, our fishing range will be increased to give the Bunny Clark more sea room to fish unexplored territory. Most improvements will go unnoticed, as the focus will be internal and relating to systems such as passenger safety and engine monitoring. The same fishing equipment will be available including all your favorite jigs, a larger selection of Mojos and our trusty Angerman flies. All our rods and reels have already been rebuilt and customized.

We had four anglers apply for world records with the IGFA last season. Three of the potential world records were Junior Angler world records and one was a women’s line class pollock world record. The light line pollock world record was the first application to be filled out and sent to Pompano Beach, Florida, where the IGFA headquarters are located. Linda Paul (ME) caught the fish, a pollock just under 7 pounds for the six pound test women’s pollock world record. She caught her fish on November 3, 1997 and it took her about ten minutes to land it. Linda has held three IGFA world records at one time including the all tackle pollock world record at 46 pounds 11 ounces caught on October 24, 1990. She currently holds the Maine State pollock record with the same fish. All her records were caught on the Bunny Clark.

We submitted three applications for the IGFA Junior Angler world record. This is a new competition initiated by the IGFA on January 1, 1997 that includes anglers from ages 11 through 16 years old. The same angler caught the first two potential record fish on the same day. Thirteen year old Aaron LaBrecque (MA) was fishing with us on the November 12, 1997 offshore trip, the last trip of the season, when he landed a 27 pound pollock. The fish’s size and Aaron’s age reminded me of the vacancy in the Junior Angler pollock category. Not 15 minutes later, he landed a 21 pound cod, also a contender for the Junior Angler title. Both fish were caught with a Burket jig and took Aaron approximately 5 minutes to land while using 30 pound test line. After the season was over and as I was gathering material to write this guestletter, I realized that Andrew Tuttle (GA) went fishing with us August 11, 1997 on his sixteenth birthday and landed a 34 pound pollock for a Maine State trophy award. At the time, I had forgotten about the Junior Angler program with the IGFA. A quick call to Pompano Beach in December confirmed my suspicions so an application was sent right out. Andrew’s fish was the fourth largest pollock caught on the Bunny Clark during the 1997 season. We all wish these anglers the best of luck in their endeavors.

Our tagging program has slowed down with the advent of more than one captain. Also, a Bunny Clark captain has more to do now with the information gathering process that goes on each day in order to update the daily fishing report available on the internet at http://www.bunnyclark.com, our web site. However, we still have an undetermined volume of tagged fish at large. We have no plans of eliminating the tagging program in the future.

Last season we had three interesting returns from cod that were all tagged at the northern end of Jeffrey’s Ledge in April of 1995, but were returned from different fishing grounds at different time periods. The first tag return came from an area 40 miles southeast of Nantucket Island called Asia Rip, just inside Georges Bank and 200 miles south of Perkins Cove. It was tagged on April 23, 1995 and was caught on February 2, 1997. The cod was about 1.5 pounds when it was tagged and over 12 pounds when it was caught for the last time. The second tagged fish was caught on Cashes Ledge, approximately 80 miles southeast of Perkins Cove. This cod was also tagged on April 23, 1995 and was caught on September 18, 1997 by Dennis Robillard on the F/V Julie Ann. An excellent fisherman, Dennis has returned quite a few of my tags over the years and usually gives me quite a bit of information. The cod was 33 inches long and about 10 pounds. The cod was 18.5 inches (1.5 pounds) when it was tagged and released. The third cod was caught 15 miles along the inside of edge of Jeffrey’s Ledge from where I tagged this fish on April 9, 1995 or 27 miles southeast of Perkins Cove. Another good fisherman, Mike Leary, caught it while fishing on the F/V Lori B., around November 1, 1997. This fish was about 9 pounds and about 30 inches long. The fish was 15.25 inches long when it was first tagged and released. It is interesting to note that all these fish tagged in the same area at approximately the same time were returned from so many different locations throughout the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. I should also note that we had other tags returned during the 1997 season but I felt that those mentioned above were the most interesting.

The average fish size and total pounds of legal fish landed, both of which were very high, defined angling success for the 1997 season. On May 1, 1997, the federal limit on cod and haddock went from 20 inches to 21 inches. This forced us off the tops of our major fishing banks where the smaller fish are located and moved us into the deeper water. As a result, our average pool fish (largest fish landed) per trip, including eighty of the less productive half-day (four-hour) trips, was 14.1 pounds. This was a substantial jump over last year. The marathon trips were our most successful trip for larger fish and quantity of fish. The average size pool fish was 20.6 pounds for 50 completed marathons including the ultra-marathon, the 22-hour trip we run. Our most successful marathon trip occurred on July 22, the ultra-marathon, where approximately 3600 pounds of fish were landed for 12 anglers. There were 11 trophy cod from 20 to 38.5 pounds and one trophy haddock (7.5 pounds caught by Jim Budness (MA)) landed that day. We also had two other regular (12-hour trip) marathon trips where the landings were almost as large as the Ultra. Fortunately, of the legal fish landed, many were released alive. Marathon landings averaged 12.8 full fish boxes of fish in the round per trip including those fish that were released alive, about the same as the 1996 season. The best day for haddock was the September 26, 1997 marathon trip where 103 fish (66 haddock of which were of legal size) were landed, the best day for haddock since the 1995 season.

There were 196 Maine State trophy fish, 1,929 haddock and 214 wolffish landed during the 1997 season. We had an increase in the number of trophy cod (cod of 20 pounds or more) but there were fewer of the large or whale cod than last year. Likewise, the count of trophy pollock (pollock of 20 pounds or more) was up from last year but there were only six pollock landed over 30 pounds. Over half of the haddock that were landed last year were sub legal. However, there were more haddock in the 5 to 6 pound range than during the previous year. The 1997 season was the Bunny Clark’s second best season ever for haddock landings. Over 65% of all the trophy fish, including wolffish, cusk, pollock and haddock, were cod. Pollock accounted for 18%. We caught about half as many wolffish as the 1995 season, our best season, making the 1997 season about our third best. We didn’t have any big catches of wolffish on any one trip. However, there seemed to be a wolffish or two caught on every trip throughout the year.

As I feel the greatest achievement in angling is the ability of a person to hook and land a trophy fish on their own, I have listed the guests who caught the five largest of each significant species during the 1997 season. Keep in mind that all the represented weights of these fish were taken aboard the Bunny Clark using a registered scale shortly after capture. I feel that this is the fairest comparison between the angler’s fish since weight loss is proportional to the amount of time the fish is out of water.





April Bliss (VT)

Banana Cusk-6.5



Paul Weeden (MA)




Ed Werner (PA)




Jim Gray (VT)




Leon Dubay (CT)




Tom Dothit (PA)




Don Johnson (MA) with his 38 pound pollock.

Don Johnson (MA)




Ron- Krause (MA)




Don Johnson (MA)




Andrew Tuttle (GA)




Bob Small (MA)




Ron Bachand (VT)




Mike Polacinski (NY)




Dale Mrazik (ME)




Mark Flower (NY)




Pio Castracane (NY)




Linda Paul (ME)




Pio Castracane (NY)




Lyle Chernoff (NY)




Joe LaFrance (CT)




Ralph DeGeorgia (NY)




Michael LaBrecque (MA)




Bob Casseles (MA)




Jody Clark (NY)




More 1998 Guestletter

P.S. If you want to send me , the current address is info@bunnyclark.com. With this web site, I will try to keep you current on all of the fishing particulars with the Bunny Clark and include updated information on fishery management decisions that could potentially influence party boat fishermen in the northeast and recreational fishermen in general.