More of the 1996 Bunny Clark Guestletter

January 16, 1996

Gil Nelson (right) holds his 18.5 pound cod which he caught on the June 3, 1996 marathon trip. Gil is one of my favorite fishermen if only because he makes me realize what life and fishing are all about.

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 1995 season. Keep in mind that all the represented weights of these fish were taken aboard the Bunny Clark 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.

Lbs. Species Angler State

55.00 -- cod ---------------- Rich Povencher ------------------- MA 52.00 -- cod ---------------- Fred Kunz ------------------------ NH 41.00 -- cod ---------------- Fred Kunz ------------------------ NH 40.50 -- cod ---------------- John Staples --------------------- VT 37.50 -- cod ---------------- Bernie Gage ---------------------- VT 41.00 -- pollock ------------ Steve Hamel ---------------------- NH 40.25 -- pollock ------------ Brian Aiken ---------------------- NY 39.50 -- pollock ------------ Harold Cable --------------------- CT 38.00 -- pollock ------------ Paul Lovett ---------------------- VT 37.00 -- pollock ------------ Brian Aiken ---------------------- NY 37.00 -- pollock ------------ Robert West ---------------------- MA 23.00 -- wolffish ----------- James Cheezeman ------------------ MT 21.50 -- wolffish ----------- Terry Carr ----------------------- VT 21.00 -- wolffish ----------- Paul Gaudette -------------------- NH 21.00 -- wolffish ----------- Eric Pysar ----------------------- NY 20.00 -- wolffish ----------- Bernie Gage ---------------------- VT 18.12 -- cusk --------------- Squeak Miller -------------------- OH 16.50 -- cusk --------------- Mike Horwitz --------------------- NH 13.75 -- cusk --------------- Steve Sampsonis ------------------ MA 13.50 -- cusk --------------- Garth Conklin -------------------- NY 13.00 -- cusk --------------- Roger Sanford -------------------- NY 35.00 -- white hake --------- Richard Atherton ----------------- NH 16.75 -- white hake --------- Peter Minio ---------------------- NJ 12.00 -- white hake --------- Fred Kunz ------------------------ NH 11.50 -- white hake --------- Joe Huckemeyer ------------------- MA 10.00 -- white hake --------- Fred Kunz ------------------------ NH 03.00 -- redfish ------------ Fabien Parent -------------------- VT 08.75 -- haddock ------------ Terry Clancy --------------------- MA 08.50 -- haddock ------------ Rick Dubuque --------------------- ME 08.00 -- haddock ------------ Linda Paul ----------------------- ME 08.00 -- haddock ------------ Ken McLaughlin ------------------- ME 08.00 -- haddock ------------ Jim Feeney ----------------------- MA 02.50 -- seagull ------------ Art Kemler ----------------------- PA 04.51 -- whiting ------------ Erik Callahan -------------------- MA 10.00 -- rock --------------- Neil McNeil ---------------------- NY 09.00 -- rock --------------- Brett Fusco ---------------------- NY 35.30 -- torpedo Ray -------- Don Carignan --------------------- NH ? -------- ? ---------------- Mike McKay ----------------------- NY

The largest percentage of trophy fish landed last season were pollock (25%) while cod came in second (21%). Squeak Miller caught the second largest cusk ever caught in shallow, 150 feet deep, water on the Bunny Clark with his 18.12 pounder. Fred Kunz’s 52 pound cod was the second longest cod ever landed on the boat at 55.5 inches in length. Neil Downey’s 83 pound cod caught in 1992 was our longest cod ever at 57.5 inches. Richard Atherton’s 35 pound hake is only the second trophy hake that has been caught on the Bunny Clark in four seasons.

My tagging program is still alive and well although most of my effort was concentrated during the spring cod run. We had our first pollock return last season in about the same area I tagged it. I do not have many details because a blue shark mutilated the fish and the angler lost the tag. Since we only tagged a handful of pollock this year, indications are that the fish was several inches longer than it was when it was first tagged. I suspect that the growth rate is much greater in the pollock than the cod but much more data would need to be collected to support this statement.

The most interesting tag return from last season came associated with a cod of 18.5 inches long that we tagged in the vicinity of the northern end of Jeffrey’s Ledge on June 4, 1994. The fish was caught again on Sewell Ridge, about 100 miles southeast of the tagging site, by the dragger Pauline Pearl. The fish was 20 to 21 inches long and it was landed on February 14, 1995. This tag return is interesting because Sewell Ridge is only about 30 miles north of the northern end of Georges Bank. Although we have had other tag returns from Georges Bank proper, this is the closest return we have ever received from the northern end. This tag return puts emphasis on the possibility that the Gulf of Maine and the Georges Bank populations of cod may intermingle and not be separate stocks as is the popular theory among scientists today. Catching all sizes of tagged cod from various areas of Georges Bank that were previously tagged around the inshore waters of the Gulf of Maine suggests that intermingling of several year classes of cod may be significant. If this is true, and I suspect it is, the regulations imposed on the commercial sector through the fishery's management process may not be as beneficial to the groundfish populations as they could be.

Amendment 7 to the fishery's management plan is due out sometime this year. In it is a sweeping set of reforms that is supposed to decrease the fishing effort in the New England groundfish fishery by 80%. I am not going to go into the details here but suffice it to say that the fishery will be very different from the way it is today. Commercial and recreational fishermen will not have the same freedoms they once had. I don’t think this is bad. I do feel that party boats are going to be regulated fairly. As of this writing, and I do not believe much will change, party boats will have an increased size limit on cod, haddock and pollock of 20 inches by May or June of 1996 and 21 inches in 1997. We will also be hit with a two hook per line limit and a no sale provision. My belief is that when the party boat regulations are implemented, we are also going to see an increase in the fish populations due to the decreased commercial fishing effort that is already occurring this winter. The overall effect will be that the base line stock of smaller groundfish will grow to a larger level. This should increase the landings and the quality of legal fish and be better for everybody in the future.

There was a time when I thought that the New England Fisheries Management Council (FMC) was going to put us out of business in favor of the commercial sector. That did not happen. A few of us got together and formed the New England Recreational Anglers (NERA) association lead by Frank Blount of the Francis Fleet, Point Judith, R.I. By funding this group, we were able to get the representation we needed at the FMC meetings. At the same time a lot of wonderful letters were written to the FMC by you expressing your concerns and views. This helped tremendously. By the end of the season, I had collected $1817.00 from your donations. All but $7.00 of this money was sent to the NERA fund. The $7.00 was sent to the Interstate Passenger Boat Association as it was a check made out to this association specifically. I can’t tell you how much we all appreciate your support. All of the concerned party boat businesses also gave money and now we have enough to be able to act quickly to defend ourselves in case of an emergency. We may not always win or be treated fairly but, as Fred Kunz said, whatever happens, at least I know in my heart it won’t be for lack of trying to do all we could do to preserve our right to fish. (Click on the "NEFMC Update" hyperlink at the Bunny Clark Home Page to view the most current decisions made by the FMC.)

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 1995 season. I realize that this is a value judgment on my part but I believe that my conclusions are recognized as a popular opinion among my crew and fishing guests and are based on many fishing trips. These special anglers and incidents are as follows:

ANGLER OF THE YEAR. I picked Fred Kunz for this distinction because he consistently caught the most fish on almost every trip, his attitude was fantastic, he set some significant Bunny Clark milestones that will be hard to beat and he was a leader, if not the leader, in number of pools, trophy fish hooked and stamina in heavy weather.

FEMALE ANGLER OF THE YEAR. This is always the easiest category for me to fill. Since I have met Linda Paul, she has always been the top angler or top female angler of the year. She never gives up. I have some great female anglers that fish with me but Linda is still the best. Actually, Linda and Les Paul are my best fishing team!

BEST BAIT FISHERMAN. This is another of the easy categories. Every time I start a new season I wonder if I will meet a better bait fisherman than Marvin Baer. I never have. He is innovative, versatile and simply the best!

MOST TROPHIES. Brian Aiken got three trophies and Linda Paul, Fred Kunz, Harold Cable, Rick Dubuque, Bernie Gage, Bob West and Tim Williams each got two.

MOST POOLS. Art Kemler won five, Mike Horwitz, Helen White, Tim Williams and Bob Lo won four and Fred Kunz, Floyd Raymond and C.B. Hobbs (see photo) won three pools.

MOST IMPROVED FISHERMEN. There were four fishermen/fisherwomen that improved greatly last season. Bob Lippack seems to be catching more than his share of fish. Art Kemler, fondly known as “Electric Man," has all the indications of being this year’s super hero. Helen White had a better day every trip. If it wasn’t for Red Dog, Dave Reynolds would probably have been one of the moving forces of 1995. As it was, he had to be forcefully moved on occasion.

MOST UNUSUAL CATCH. During a fall marathon fishing side by side, Brett Fusco and Neil McNeil each hooked what they thought were huge fish at the same time. They both argued that their fish was bigger and may have even taken bets out on each other. When they had dragged their "fish "to the surface, they found they didn’t have a fish at all but instead, they each had a big rock! Needless to say, this was a Bunny Clark first except I don’t think they are going to go around bragging about their catch.

HARDEST LUCK OF THE YEAR. Bob Withee, world record holder extraordinaire, winner of many pools and generally an all around good guy and excellent sportsman, picked the worst days to go fishing, didn’t win a pool on any boat he fished on and was heard to mutter," Let’s hurry up and get this year over with so we can start another one. I can’t believe I pay for this abuse." I may not have considered Bob for this award except that I had never seen him do so poorly that he had to ask vacationers if he could buy their fish in order to return home with some fillets!

QUOTE OF THE YEAR. " I always looked up to Bob as my hero but, this year, he’s just a zero!" A quote from Fred Kunz after he was nudged out of his favorite corner by Bob Withee while trying to make a cast.

MOST PROFICIENT SHARKER. It’s amazing how many blue sharks Richard Atherton can catch with a piece of hen clam. It doesn’t matter how many blue sharks bother him though, he never raises the blue handkerchief!

UNEXPLAINED PHENOMENA. It always amazed me that Rick Dubuque’s alarm clock would vanish as if in thin air and then would just reappear hours later as if it had just come back from a wondrous journey somewhere. Oh, the stories that alarm clock could probably tell! -- Have you ever heard of someone that would complain about his joints hurting before an impending storm? Well, I have a fisherman, C. B. Hobbs (see photo) is his name, that when he thinks he isn’t going to catch any fish, his back mysteriously starts hurting. It’s funny though how the pain will go away just as mysteriously as it arrived when he has a good fish on! -- Did you hear about the sighting that many of the diners saw while sitting on the deck at Barnacle Billy’s overlooking the Bunny Clark ? Some say that Mike Labrecque saw it too!

I want to tell you all before I end this letter, that last season was probably the best season I have ever had on the water. I want to specifically thank Dave Pease, my boat builder, for getting the boat going in Bristol fashion every year. I want to thank my wife Debbie for getting me through the year and standing by me through all the many early mornings and tired times. I want to thank "happy Satchie" for finishing every year with me as if he just embarked on an exciting expedition. These are my top behind-the-scenes people that keep me productive. However, all these great times and trips could not be possible if were not for all the valued guests that make it happen and ride on my boat hoping for a good catch or an enjoyable experience. To those people, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and hope that I can always live up to your expectations or least make it possible for you to catch a few fish every year. Have an enjoyable winter’s end and I hope to see you during our 14th season!


Tim Tower

P.S. If you want to send me , the current address is With this home page, I hope to keep you current on all of the fishing particulars on the Bunny Clark and include updated information on fishery’s management decisions that could potentially affect us.

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