More of the 1997 Bunny Clark Guestletter

January 15, 1997

Bob Sprague (above) is shown holding a 20 pound pollock which he caught aboard the Bunny Clark on the October 25, 1996 marathon trip. Bob, an excellent fisherman from Connecticut, only uses a jig while fishing and always seems to come up with a big one!

In late January 1996, I was informed that the IGFA had awarded Don Carignan (NH) all tackle world record status for the 35.2 pound torpedo ray that he caught with me aboard the Bunny Clark on August 24, 1995. As of this writing, he still holds this record. The torpedo ray is the only "electric" fish we have in Maine waters. The torpedo is capable of producing 220 volts of electricity and can knock a man to the ground. Right, Satch? Actually, Don only made one trip with us last season, an afternoon half day trip with Captain Dan Ahern and Satch. With only 8 people on the boat, Don won the pool with a 29 pound cod. At that time, August 26, this cod was the third largest cod of the season. Some guys have all the luck!

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 1996 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 anglerís fish since weight loss is proportional to the amount of time the fish is out of water.

Lbs. Species Angler State

62.50 -- cod ----------------- Fred Kunz ----------------------- NH 53.00 -- cod ------------- Forrest Woodruff -------------------- VT 50.00 -- cod ----------------- Tim Tower ----------------------- ME 44.00 -- cod ----------------- Bernie Gage ---------------------- VT 43.00 -- cod ----------------- Bernie Gage ---------------------- VT 36.50 -- pollock ------------- Doug Barber ---------------------- ME 33.00 -- pollock ------------ Mark Bellaud ---------------------- MA 31.50 -- pollock ------------- Mike Horwitz --------------------- ME 29.00 -- pollock ----------- Danny Angerman --------------------- MA 28.00 -- pollock ------------- Doug Barber ----------------------- ME 28.00 -- pollock ------------- Bernie Gage ----------------------- VT 29.00 -- wolffish ------------ Jared Laing ----------------------- NY 26.50 -- wolffish -----------Chris Desmarais---------------------- NH 22.00 -- wolffish ----------- Chris Steiner --------------------- NH 21.00 -- wolffish ----------- Brian Melloni ---------------------- MA 21.00 -- wolffish ----------- Ruth Olenchuk ------------------- ME/VA 24.00 -- cusk --------------- Bill MacWilliam -------------------- CT 20.00 -- cusk --------------- Jeff Stockman --------------------- NH 19.00 -- cusk ----------------- Fred Kunz ----------------------- NH 16.50 -- cusk ---------------- Paul Gaudreau --------------------- MA 14.50 -- cusk ----------------- Neil Downy ----------------------- MA 34.00 -- white hake ---------- Lee Atherton ---------------------- ME 12.00 -- white hake ----------- Fred Eyer ------------------------ PA 10.00 -- haddock -------------- Jim Budness ----------------------- MA 09.00 -- haddock -------------- Dave Gray --------------------- CT/VT 08.75 -- haddock ------------ Lee Atherton ---------------------- ME 08.50 -- haddock ------------- Bob Lippack ---------------------- MA 08.00 -- haddock -------------- Fred Kunz ------------------------ NH 08.00 -- haddock -------------- Ed Gray ------------------------- VT 45.00 -- porbeagle ------------ Dan Walsh ------------------------ MA 28.00 -- monkfish ----------- Paul Gaudreau ---------------------- MA 08.50 -- monkfish ----------- Glen Martlock --------------------- NH

The largest percentage of trophy fish landed last season were cod (56%) while pollock and wolffish accounted for 11 percent each of the total trophy count. Lee Atherton (ME) was the only person to land three trophy fish from three different species on one trip. Two of his fish appear above. The third of his fish was a 32 pound cod. Lee Atherton is Richard Athertonís son. Richard was a good friend, a great cod fisherman and a kind and generous individual, among other things, and used to go fishing with me quite often. He died of a mysterious illness during the middle of the summer. Lee went out with us on the September 5 marathon fishing trip to place his fatherís ashes in the area he requested, the piece of bottom that Richard liked to fish best. Leeís largest fish of the day, a 34 pound hake, is the second largest hake that has ever been caught on an offshore trip. The largest was his fatherís 35 pounder caught on the same exact spot in 1995! Divine intervention? Richard is very much missed by all who knew him.

We didnít tag any groundfish this season. Most of the time I spent aboard was dedicated to the work at hand and gathering information for the web page. Also, the opportunities were less because I wasnít the captain as often. Bruce Joule from the DMR and I plan to complete and publish the tagging paper we started last season but didnít have enough time to finish. Despite the lack of tagged fish releases, we had a couple of interesting tag returns last season.

Bert Grenier (PQ) jigged up a tagged cod on a marathon trip that Satch and I were running in the vicinity of Fippennies Ledge. The fish had been previously tagged on the northern edge of the northern end of Georges Bank on June 4, 1994 by fishermen involved in a joint Canada/United States (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) tagging research program. The cod was 11 pounds, 30.5 inches long and was 95 miles west of itís initial tagging location when Bert recovered this fish on September 20, 1996. The cod was 17 inches long when it was tagged in 1994. Much to Bertís dismay, I returned the cod back to the ocean alive in the hope that someone else will find the tag in the future.

We got our first haddock return this season. For years I have been tagging a limited quantity of haddock with no returns. They seem to be the most fragile of the groundfish species. Indeed, studies on haddock in captivity show that they donít live more than a few days in a controlled laboratory environment. In May of this year we got a tag return from a boat that caught one of our haddock on the German Bank, fifteen miles west of Seal Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. When we tagged the haddock on June 3, 1994, it was 16.25 inches long (probably about a pound in weight). When it was caught this spring, it had grown to 25 inches and had traveled a straight line distance of 160 nautical miles. In order to give you an idea how large a haddock this is, Fredís 8 pound haddock, our fifth largest of the 1996 season, was 25.5 inches long!

These two tag returns highlight some interesting facts that I have learned over the years with the tagging studies I have completed. First, the United States and Canada share groundfish stocks to some extent. Second, it seems that the commercial harvest of haddock must be fairly high when you consider the growth rate and the fact that half of our haddock this year were smaller than 20 inches. Thirdly, sub legal cod, haddock and pollock do survive when returned to the ocean alive. Releasing groundfish caught by rod and reel is certainly a viable option for conservation in fishery management.

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 1996 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:

FISHERMAN OF THE YEAR. In an unprecedented move last season, Fred Kunz became the first angler in Bunny Clark history to win the prestigious Fisherman of the Year (FY-Ď96) award two years in a row. Not only did Fred land the largest fish of the season, a 62.5 pound cod, he caught the most trophy fish for the season (12), he landed the most trophy fish for a single trip (5) and he was high hook on almost every trip he attended. There are a great many good fishermen (The word "fisherman" includes both male and female anglers.) who fish with me every year but Fred belongs to that upper echelon of elite experts where luck and timing are the only things that determine their status on a given day. Fred had it all last year including an innate ability to tough it out under the severest of conditions. Bernie Gage took a close second place in this category or was the first loser, as Rick Dubuque would say!

FEMALE ANGLER OF THE YEAR. Linda Paul belongs to the same small handful of fishermen that deserve special recognition in their angling ability. Linda has been Fisherman of the Year or Female Angler of the Year ever since she stepped foot on the Bunny Clark gunwale. She is simply the best female angler and one of the best anglers I have ever known. It has always been a great honor to have both Linda and Lester Paul aboard.

BEST BAIT FISHERMAN. Jim Budness was my choice for this category after reviewing all the data. Jim is a great jig fisherman or bait fisherman but last season he seemed untouchable with a bait rod. One of his accomplishments was catching 12 haddock on one trip, the most for any angler during the 1996 season.

MOST TROPHIES. Fred Kunz landed 12 while Bernie Gage caught 8, Forest Woodruff and Bob Lippack each got 5 and Dave Gray caught 4 trophy fish for the 1996 season.

MOST POOLS. Tim Williams (CT) caught the most pool fish with 5 for the season. Fred Kunz, Bernie Gage and Bob Lippack won the second most with 3 pools each.

MOST IMPROVED ANGLER. Dave "Red Dog" Reynolds earned this title for the 1996 season. In previous years, you might have remembered Dave because he was considerate enough to give you his fishing spot if you really wanted it. He wasnít a standout in the league of super fishermen. However, last year, not only was he a nice guy (He moved down a few spots for Linda Paul one day.) but he caught quite a few fish on all but a couple of trips. Dave was fisherman of the day on August 11 by catching the most fish and also landing the largest fish, a 13.5 pound cod, with 29 other anglers aboard! Leo Lamoureux and Ken Mclaughlin did better than ever as long as Dan Ahern was the captain. I might also mention that Bob Lippack has moved up in the ranks to somewhere in the middle of the top ten best fishermen of 1996.

MOST UNDERRATED ANGLER. Bob LePage, Sr., although an excellent angler who fishes with me yearly on a regular basis, has never caught anything extraordinary or done anything exceptionally bad to warrant a mention in the annual newsletter. To change his luck for next year, I decided to add this new category and put him in it!

MOST UNUSUAL CATCH. On the October 11 marathon trip, Dave Harris lost his glasses overboard while trying to help gaff a fish on the bow in rough seas. A couple of minutes later, Bill Wilson, also in the bow, caught Daveís glasses with his jig while fishing for cod!

STORYBOOK ENDING.On the July 1 full day trip, we had half an hour left before we had to go in and our fishing had slowed to the point of being boring. I really didn't have enough time to anchor on another spot so I decided that rather than waste the time setting there for thirty minutes, I would haul the anchor and set up a quick drift. I had just set the boat into a drift when Charlie Davis, who was fishing in the stern, called up to me and asked if he should bother to put his line down with only a few minutes left. I called back from the wheel and told him that if it were me, I would keep fishing; " It only takes 2 seconds to get the pool fish". Charlie dropped his hook and sinker to bottom and it wasn't a few seconds before he had a fish on. A few minutes later, Charlie landed this fish, a 27 pound cod, that not only won the boat pool but was also the largest cod he had ever caught and the third largest cod caught on the Bunny Clark up to that point.

HARDEST LUCK OF THE YEAR. I would say that Charlie "C.B." Hobbs had the hardest luck during the 1996 season. Charlie decided to quit smoking. He is 81 years young but started smoking at 6 years old. I think quitting damn near killed him. He made the first couple of trips at the beginning of the season but had to cancel the rest. I guess watching Art Kemler, Sr. enjoy a cigarette was just too much for him. C. B., FY-í94, is the most well liked of my regular anglers.

QUOTE OF THE YEAR. "Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!" A quote by Bernie Gage during the advent of his first cast of the day on the June 17 marathon trip after "someone" (Rick?) had sabotaged his reel by cutting his line about a hundred feet into the spool. Much to Bernieís credit, the cast was the longest one I have ever seen him complete!

BEST FISHING TEAM. . We had two extraordinary fishing teams last season. Al Turner and Bob "Hong Kong" Lo come to mind first only because they complemented each other so well. They always combined their fish, Al would win the pool and Bob would split the money with Al. Sounds fair enough. The other team was Art Kemler, Sr. and Captain Dan Ahern. Art would catch all the trophies and Dan would take the photos.

UNEXPLAINED PHENOMENA. The only time Al Robinson fished on the Bunny Clark last season, Howard Cutler was the captain. Al came away from the trip with the most fish and the boat pool. He told me he hadnít done this well in years. He also had a great time. Tim who?

In ending this guestletter, I want to thank all of you for supporting me over the years and allowing me to grow and improve in a business I truly enjoy. I am very much looking forward to seeing you all again this upcoming season, our fifteenth. Until then, enjoy the winter, it gets shorter every year!

Best Fishes,

Tim Tower

P.S. Captain Dan Ahern and Rick Dubuque, have informed me that they are not going to be working on the Bunny Clark this season except maybe on a very limited basis or if I need either one on them in an emergency. They will be missed.

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 management decisions that could potentially affect us.

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