The 2017 Bunny Clark Guestletter

Annual Review of the 2016 Bunny Clark Fishing Season & the Plans & Outlook for the 2017 Season.

January 15, 2017

Dear Guests:

Welcome back to another end of season edition of the annual Bunny Clark Guestletter.

We had great expectations for the 2016 fishing season. We had already put 1000 hours on the new engine, installed before the beginning of the 2015 season, with few problems. I was also excited by the warmer than normal winter we had previous to this upcoming season. Normally, this heralds earlier than normal haddock schools, earlier pollock fishing and larger than normal individuals of each species. And our fishing regulations were going to be much more conducive to attracting anglers. I was very upbeat about moving forward.

[The picture on the right is a shot I took of Dave "Duke" Symes (ME) holding his 3.5 pound Maine state trophy whiting which he caught on a fall marathon trip with me last season. It was rougher than he would have liked. And he informed me that it might be has last fall marathon because of the frequency of heavier weather at that time of year. Still, had he not sailed with us that day I would have missed one of the best angler/fish digital images of the season. And Dave's whiting was the second largest whiting of our fishing season!]

But the 2016 fishing season didn't start as anticipated. Dispite the milder winter, the mildest in thirty years, the water was as cold as if we had a normal winter. The water temperature also stayed colder longer than normal springs. This could be evidenced by the large number of porbeagle sharks which stayed on the fishing grounds until the summer. This is the longest time period I have ever seen porbeagle sharks on the fishing grounds. And I believe the smaller size of our haddock and pollock were the result, partially, of the colder water. The redfish also seemed more prevalent, the colder water keeping them right up on the shallow rocky bumps. These were not bad signs; just a bit arcane as it relates to the way I think. But I always expect the unexpected when deep sea fishing.

The regulations for the previous season, 2015, put a damper on angler participation. Having our first year where we could not keep a cod at any time during the season eliminated some of my favorite customers from sailing with us. Combine that with a three haddock bag limit with a minimum size limit of twenty-one inches, the lowest bag limit for haddock we have ever had, and we got just what I figured we would get in 2015. Not enough! And not enough to stay in business, if every year in the future had the same regulations. In contrast, not only could we keep more haddock during the 2016 fishing season (a bag limit of fifteen haddock with a minimum size of seventeen inches) we could also land a cod a person during the months of August and September. So angler participation was up dramatically from the 2015 fishing season. We even saw Louis & Marc Bellaud make an appearance last season. I was certainly happy about that!

The weather during the 2016 season was exceptional in that we had very little rain. Also, the summer months gave us more wind than almost every summer before it. I think there were five other seasons that might have been as windy. It wasn't that it was very windy. It was more that we expect calm weather in July and August as normal fare. We certainly didn't have those long stretches of calm weather usually associated with July or August. And, overall, the weather last season was very good with very few major storms. Only five trips were canceled due to heavy weather. Two of those were due to Hurricane Hermine in early September, one of which we could have sailed had there not been so much media attention paid to a storm that was just too far offshore to make much difference to us. We had very few thunder storms in the early spring through July. Yet, we did have a few thunder storms in August and September, a time when normally don't see them very often.

[The picture on the left is a shot of Neil Chamberlin (NH) holding his 2.25 pound Maine state trophy redfish, caught on the last trip of the 2016 Bunny Clark fishing season, a marathon trip. This fish tied in weight for the second largest redfish caught off the Bunny Clark in 2016. Neil is a bee keeper, among other things. He produces the best honey I have ever tasted. If he doesn't have special bees he must have special flowers in his neck of the woods! The angler in the background is none other than that fishing maven, Charlie Harris (MA).]

We couldn't keep haddock until May 1, 2016. Since we also couldn't keep cod at that time, we only made three trips in April. Our first trip of the year, a marathon trip, sailed on April 14th. So, essentially, our fishing season started on May 1st. May is a good month for haddock, as it was last season. The pollock fishing was also very good at that time. And the air temperature was warmer, having avoided the colder April days.

The pollock fishing, overall, was very good. The pollock has become our staple groundfish with the haddock/cod regulations always in flux. Last year was similar to the previous season in numbers. It was very different in location. We didn't have much of the shallow water fishing we enjoyed the year before, particularly with the larger specimens. The larger pollock seemed to be in the deeper water more often with only a few exceptions. And those exceptions favored certain specific wind directions and moon phases. Overall, though, we could still rely on them for favorable landings on a daily basis.

The 2016 season was our best season for total numbers of haddock caught (both legal and sub-legal - I have counted every haddock caught since the early 1980's). The 2014 season was our best for haddock numbers until last year. We ended up catching 5,726 more haddock last year than we did in 2014 with fewer trips and less anglers overall. There was a good reason for this. Having such a large bag limit allowed us to stay on the haddock longer than we normally would have, it promoted the incentive to go offshore where the healthier schools of haddock could be found and there was just a more abundant year class of smaller than normal haddock wherever we went. I truly believe that if the same haddock regulations had been the same in 2015, the total catch for both years would have been very similar. Oddly, it was our worst year for big haddock. We landed only one trophy haddock over 7 pounds. This would have been above normal in the 80's through 1994 when we had no haddock to speak of. But since 1995, we had our smallest average size on haddock of any Bunny Clark season. We had quite a few haddock at times that came close to 7 pounds. But we have never had other similar years with so many haddock just shy of such a short minimum size.

We caught twice as many cod from twenty-two inches and larger, overall length, than we did during the 2015 fishing season or almost exactly as many was we did during 2014. Considering that there was a nine cod bag limit in 2014, I would say that we could have had a better year for landings in 2016 had we been able to keep as many cod as we could have in 2014. When you can't target cod for most of the season you tend to stay away from "cod spots", focusing on the fish of the day instead. Even with a one fish bag limit, on most days we could catch our limit and move away from the cod. I don't believe the cod stocks are healthy by any means. But I do think that the resident population of cod in the closed commercial fishing areas is getting slowly larger in numbers and bigger in size. And the average cod size was much bigger than the previous season last year. We had far more cod caught over 10 pounds than we did in 2014 and 2015 combined. Last season we caught five cod from 19.5 pounds to 45.5 pounds. That beats the three previous seasons where we only caught three fish over 19 pounds in 2013, 2014 and 2015 combined. In 2012, we caught ten cod of 20 pounds or greater. During that year I was discouraged that we had only ten! I believe the demise of the cod is largely due to the commercial Catch Share system of management where the New England Fishery Management Council is promoting the incentive for sectors to target cod and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is "rubber stamping" the NEFMC's decision. Unfortunately, the most desirable cod in a market sense is the cod that is part of the spawning stock biomass or the best breeders, the fish that are responsible for bringing more cod into the fishery.

[The picture on the right is a shot of Dave Miller (MA) holding his 22 pound Maine state trophy cusk. This was the Bunny Clark's second largest cusk of the fishing season last year. Dave is one of my top ten fishermen of all time. He also enjoys fishing on his own boat, taking his friends on many successful fishing trips. It is a compliment to me that he also enjoys fishing on the Bunny Clark!]

Last season was also another big season for barndoor skates, our second biggest year for the number of barndoor skates caught. There were nine total. Considering that I had never seen a barndoor skate caught on one of my boats with rod & reel before 2008, nine is a big number. It's not as if you can actually fish for them or can even see them on a sounding machine like you can other groundfish. We caught the first barndoor skate in 2008, Rick Gelaznik (MA) was the angler who caught this fish on October 4th. Since that time we have caught one in 2009, none during the 2010 season, one in 2011, two in 2012, one in 2013, two in 2014 and fifteen in 2015! So, before 2015, we had caught eight barndoor skates total in the history of the Bunny Clark/Mary E, a span of thirty-eight years! In the last two seasons we have tripled that number! How could this happen without the closed commercial fishing areas in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank? In other areas of the world, similar skate species are almost extinct where they have no closed commercial fishing areas. In fact, the barndoor skate (Dipturus laevis) became listed as an endangered species in 2003 by the IUCN) and remains so today. Although, there is talk of lifting that ban as I write. In last years Guestletter I went to great lengths writing about the barndoor skate phenomenon, the status of barndoor like skates in other fisheries around the world and how they have been exploited in these areas over the years. Here is a link to the 2016 Guestletter.

Another point of interest suggesting the success of the closed areas was the number of whiting (silver hake) that were landed on the Bunny Clark last season and in 2015. The size of the whiting that were caught in 2015 was impressive. But the numbers of large whiting caught last season was very exciting. The whiting is a very good eating fish. The fillet is delicate in texture and lends itself to many different recipes. During the 2015 season, we added the species to the trophy list for the first time since I first starting writing the Guestletter in 1983/1984. For 2016, I had to increase the size of the whiting to 2 pounds in order to limit the number of "counter" entries on the list. Even then the list was impressive. We don't fish for whiting. Most anglers still prefer haddock, cod and pollock. But I know we could have targeted them last season and would have done quite well. Like the redfish, the whiting is a very underutilized angling species, highly prized by chefs who know fish.

Our monkfish catch was up yet again. I don't count monkfish. And most weren't even big enough to keep. But my sense is that anglers caught more monkfish than any previous Bunny Clark season. In the early days of the Bunny Clark, when we caught a monkfish, they were big, much bigger than they are today. On July 9, 1991 Nancy Regimbald (VT) caught a 55 pound monkfish that ended up being 49 pounds 12 ounces registered on land weight and the new all tackle IGFA world record. Two days later another angler caught one that weighed 41 pounds. At the time, the world record was 35 pounds or so. Had the fish been caught in reverse, we would have had two all tackle world record monkfish in the same week! Nancy's world record was beaten by a monk that weighed 51 pounds 4 ounces on April 12, 2008. That fish was caught off Gloucester, Massachusetts. We don't see many of the big ones anymore (see the trophy list below) but seeing so many small ones in the closed areas is encouraging to me.

Our hake count was down again this year. For the last four years commercial vessels have been targeting hake to add to their total catch. I can't blame them. I would too if I were still commercial fishing. This is one reason for the Bunny Clark's decrease in hake landings. A bigger reason was that we didn't target them as often. To go after them, you have to search the deep water. To do so and not be successful takes a lot of time. The times we did try we didn't catch enough to make up the time it took to find them and fish for them. So I restricted the hake hunt to times when we were going offshore anyway. We had one very successful hake trip during an offshore trip in July. That trip was never duplicated again.

[The fish on the left shows Andrew Warren (NH) holding the 14.5 pound barndoor skate he caught in the middle of September while fishing on the extreme day trip. This was the Bunny Clark's seventh largest barndoor of the season. But it wasn't the largest barndoor caught that day. The largest was an 18.5 pound barndoor caught by Chris LeBlanc (MA), the pool winner that day for the biggest fish with the fifth largest barndoor skate of the season. (Captain Ian Keniston photo) ]

As for other species, we had variable success.

  • We had one of our better years for the bigger cusk last year. I can give you no salient reason why last year was so productive. As in 2015, we strayed away from the hard bottom areas except in the early spring when we were targeting redfish. We did catch a few more cusk while fishing for redfish. But we did not take many redfish trips. Cusk seems to be our go-to species on the half day trips. We did catch a few more than expected on those trips. We haven't fished some of my favorite offshore cusk spots in two years.
  • We had a great mackerel year last year. But we caught far more mackerel during the 2015 season. Still, had we not fished during 2015, the 2016 fishing season would have come in as our best. This was another reason why we had the porbeagle sharks around much longer than expected. The common name for the porbeagle shark in Maine is "mackerel shark", for that very reason. Porbeagles love mackerel.
  • We saw and caught a lot of redfish in the early spring. Had we targeted redfish more than we did, our redfish landings would have rivaled the redfish catches in the early 1980s. There was one trip in particular during the third week in April where we probably landed too many. We also had a few deep water trips later in the season where we caught some of our biggest (oldest) redfish, very similar is size to the trophy redfish we catch every fall.
  • The dogfish were very manageable last season. These are the annoying spiny dogfish that tangle lines and disrupt fishing for everyone. Some people call them sand sharks. We might have had two trips where it really limited our groudfishing success. Almost all the other times where we experienced dogfish we could either move away from them or there weren't enough to really bother moving. We saw no dogfish inshore, as has been the case for the last seven years. There were fewer encounters with dogfish on the fishing grounds than any other previous season.
  • There were quite a few bluefin tuna around. Until the fall, the ten or so hookups we had with them involved fish much too big to handle with the groundfishing tackle we use. In the fall, however, we had three hookups on fish that we could have landed. In one instance a rod broke. On another, the line chaffed and parted. We just lost the other opportunity we had for no discernable reason. We haven't boated a bluefin tuna in six seasons.
  • Blue sharks were not as much of a bother again last season. Like the dogfish, there were probably two days where it made groundfishing around them very uncomfortable. On those days we had moderate terminal tackle loss. Blue sharks will take the groundfish after those fish are brought to the level above the bottom where they frequent. When they do grab a fish, often times we also lose the terminal tackle as well as the fish. Last year was one of our best years avoiding blue sharks. It also helps that we don't fish near the offshore areas where they are most frequently found in the summer and early fall.
  • As mentioned above, we had the best year for seeing porbeagle sharks. They hung around longer than we have ever seen them during a Bunny Clark season. There were two reasons. The water stayed colder longer and their favorite food source is the mackerel. We had mackerel earlier and throughout our season. We do not target the porbeagle shark. But they are a very good eating fish, very similar in taste and texture to swordfish. And they give the angler some added excitement on a fishing trip.
  • There were 52 wolffish caught during the 2016 fishing season. Since 2008 we have not been targeting them as they are illegal to keep. During that time the largest total we have had was 83 fish in 2012. The lowest number of wolffish caught on the Bunny Clark during a season was 46 in 2009. I started counting wolffish in 1996. Our best year after that time was 1998 when we landed 310 wolffish for the season. We caught too many to count in the '80s. Our best single day for wolffish landings was April 8, 1994 when 29 fish were caught. On that day we also broke an angler record for wolffish caught in a single day with a count of 9 by Al Turner (NY). The previous angler record was 8 fish held by Ray Hill (VT) on an overcast day in May of 1984 two miles from shore!
  • There were ten halibut caught on the Bunny Clark in 2016. This is a tie for our second best halibut year. We also caught ten halibut during the 2011 fishing season. We had two other opportunities to make last year our stand alone second best halibut season. But I'm reminded of the old proverb; "There's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip." It always seems worse when you can see what you might have caught than losing something before you see it. Our best halibut year was in 2012 when we caught sixteen halibut during the season. We don't normally target halibut. There is a proven method to increase your halibut catch. This is something I don't normally try. But we were successful on two instances last season in so doing. One of these halibut, with Jared Keniston as captain, is the second largest halibut that has ever been landed on the Bunny Clark, at 66 pounds. All our best halibut came in May and June. I plan to pay more attention to the halibut in the new season.

    We did not introduce any major new improvements on the Bunny Clark for the 2016 fishing season. The earnings were down after the 2015 fishing season. And I had no new ideas that I thought might be significant enough to improve the fishing on the Bunny Clark. So we cut back on our winter projects before the 2016 season to save funding. And we concentrated on the Bunny Clark cosmetics, as we normally do. But this was more a singular event rather than part of a bigger package of events moving forward. With the extra free time, Ian Keniston and Jared Keniston, who would normally be spending all winter on the Bunny Clark, instead, worked with Larry Paul and his construction company, Atlantic Mechanical, on the foundation and underpinning of Barnacle Billy's (original restaurant). There, they helped replace all the pilings holding the deck, replaced eleven "I" beams with new galvanized ones, all new floor joists, replaced half of the concrete foundation with new and many other items too many to mention. All this during a winter that would have been my choice anyway had I been able to see into the future. I was very lucky! There was very little snow, virtually no ice in the Cove and few storms. It was a lot of hard work for both Ian and Jared. They were done by the Feburary 2016 so they could spend the rest of the time on the Bunny Clark.

    We did have some unanticipated mechanical problems during the 2016 season. The first was a leak in a raw water cooling pipe on the new engine. This was the result of a minor design flaw that was discovered three miles out at the start of an offshore marathon trip. With the automatic bilge pump on early, an inspection of the engine room had me looking at salt water pouring out on the port side of the engine! Needless to say, the trip had to be canceled. Later in the month we had another leak in the salt water overboard discharge section. Both of these problems turned out to be electrolysis problems, the later a function of age, the former a function of making a change in the system. The overboard discharge leak only meant looking around for parts in order to bypass the system, something we could complete between trips.

    [The picture on the right is a shot of Don Spencer (VT) holding his 17.5 pound wolffish which he caught on a marathon trip in the middle of April. This was the third largest wolffish of the 2016 Bunny Clark fishing season. We are prohibited to keep or kill wolffish as a recreational angler. So we took a quick picture, weighed it and released it very much alive.) ]

    During the middle of August, I had to change out a primary engine bilge pump. This was a pain in the neck. This mainly because I had to take out two other bilge pumps above it just to get to it. It's not a hard job, just a long job at a time of the day/year where I am tired and I can't complete the job until the boat is done for the day. On August 31st, Captain Jared Kenistoncalled me up at 5:30 AM to tell me that the sediment bowl of one of the Racor fuel filters had clear water in them. My first thought was that maybe the fuel truck had given us straight kerosine by mistake. A quick trip to the Cove confirmed the other thought I had; water in the fuel. What had happened was, the last time the boat was fueled the cap for the fuel fill popped off. Since the cap is flush with the deck and a deck mat resides on top of it, no one noticed. So the whole previous day salt water was running over the deck and into the fuel tank. Needless to say, we caught it just in time as the Racor filter would have automatically shut the engine down had we tried to run the engine. So another trip was canceled. Thankfully, Estes Oil (from York, Maine) went right into action, sent three men down with an electric pump, took out all the fuel, cleaned up the tank and had us going again so we could take the evening trip at 4:00 PM that same day! A week later I was in the bilge again changing out a broken float switch. At least this time I had much better access.

    The only other mechanical issue came on the day we hauled the boat out at Kittery Point Yacht Yard, Kittery, Maine at the end of the season. I had asked my son, Micah, to help me steer the boat across the bay from Perkins Cove to Kittery. Micah was at the wheel for the whole journey. We had no problems during the process. When we hauled the Bunny Clark out of the water, I found that the cutlass bearing/outside stuffing box combination had lost the four bronze machine screws holding it in place and had slid down the propeller shaft and was resting against the forward hub of the propeller! Three of the machine screws were gone and the other was hanging on the hole in the stuffing box, ready to drop out. We noticed no vibration coming from Ogunquit. With a machine screw ready to drop, the only conclusion we could reach was that it had just happened! How lucky is that? Since we had the U. S. Coast Guard hull inspection this fall (required every two years), it was noted by the inspector. And we are addressing this now as I write.

    Working with John & Elsa Tenczar at Fish-On Tackle, John came up with a single hook 16 ounce jig that we saw much success with at the end of the 2015 fishing season. I have been concerned over the years that the treble hook on our most popular jig, the Lavjig, was killing fish unnecessarily. Of most concern to me was the "gaffing" of sub-legal cod in the side while using it. Most of these cod were disemboweled in the process. John's model eliminated that. The single hook he came up with had a heavy enough wire gauge with the hook tip pulled slightly inward. So if you hooked a fish, it was 99.9% right in the mouth, there was no thought that the hook would bend and was plenty sharp enough for good penetration. Also, the hook provided a platform where you could slide one of the soft plastic "smart baits" on the hook. We used Mojo's black/gold flake "mullet" swim baits. And I have to tell you, we got better results than I ever expected. One of the best results was the landing of most of our biggest pollock in the fall of 2015. In fact, yours truly caught two pollock of 22 pounds each with very little fishing time on a trip that hosted less than a normal count of anglers. Those were the two biggest fish of the trip that day; no one else was using that jig style. Because of our success during the later part of the season before last, I figured this would be something anglers might go for last season. It didn't happen. I promoted it less last season. That must have been the difference. I will continue to use and improve on this concept in 2017. Until then, I buy most of my jigs from Fish-On Tackle. John can be reached at

    As usual, two of the places I rely on most are Surfland Bait & Tackle, Newbury, Massachusetts (Kay Moulton, proprietor) and the Saco Bay Tackle Company in Saco, Maine. Kay is the last word when it comes to terminal gear, swivels, bait hooks, reel repair questions and rod building questions as it pertains to salt water fishing in New England. I buy all my swivels and bait hooks from Kay. I have very much enjoyed doing business with her since the early 1970's. Both of these places have been responsible for building excellent rods to my specifications. Saco Bay Tackle Company specifically builds a deep water jigging rod that is second to none with the Bunny Clark logo and my explicit stamp of approval. I also buy specialized line from them. Both businesses are top notch tackle stores, the best.

    Our web site at continues to be the location where you can get information about the Bunny Clark operation on a daily basis during the season and off-season. We have a schedule and rates section, a photo section, a world records section and more. Our fishing update section provides anglers with up to date information on the daily catch, fish sizes, daily weather, angler deeds and fishery management information. This Guestletter resides on our web site along with some of my previous Guestletters. Although I can’t personally answer all the email 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 email as a direct source of making reservations as the phone serves as a better means to take care of anyone on an equal basis.

    [Fred Kunz (NH), shown left, has been one of the three best anglers to grace the deck of the Bunny Clark. In the shot on the left, Fred is shown holding a double keeper catch of haddock caught during a flat calm offshore trip. He caught these two haddock on the same line at the same time. I don't believe anyone on the Bunny Clark has ever caught as many haddock on a jig as Fred has. And when I saw his catch from the stern as I was looking to the bow, I knew I had to run up there with a camera. The larger of the two haddock weighed 5 pounds. Fred caught several haddock that size that day. ]

    This is the fifth season that I haven't worked on my groundfish tagging program. This was due, in part, to a decrease in the cod population, our primary target fish, partly due to the fact that we couldn't keep cod for most of last season (and when we could it was only one cod per person) and partly because, with everything else going on, it was hard to spend my time aboard where it was most needed - with the customer. I am thinking of starting the program up again in 2017. This for the reason that the fish are getting bigger, the bigger fish survive better and are more mobile for better returns of on the tags. We shall see.

    We maintain a healthy Maine state trophy program to recognize larger than normal fish. During the 2015 season Jason Collier (VT) came close to breaking the whiting IGFA All-Tackle world record with his 5 pounder. The fish just wasn't close enough. During the 2016 fishing season, the whiting, again, was the only species close to making world record status. But the largest one, a 4.1 pounder caught by Jon Griffin (MA), wasn't even large enough to beat Jason's fish the year before. We did catch some large barndoor skates last season. At this time, the barndoor skate is not accepted as a viable world record species. This is probably because of it's endangered species status. I will talk more about size relationships below with the accompanied trophy list. You may enjoy checking out all of our current and past world and state records by accessing the records link at or by going directly to

    The Federal recreational fishing regulations were much more relaxed last year compared to the restrictions we had in 2015. For one, we were able to keep a cod a person last year during the months of August and September as opposed to 2015 when we could not keep a single cod. This stimulated interest to some degree. And our haddock regulations changed for the better as well. During the 2015 fishing season, we were only allowed to take three haddock per person with a minimum size of twenty-one inches and no retention of haddock during Wave 2 (March & April) and Wave 5 (September & October). Last season we were allowed to take fifteen haddock per person with a minimum size of seventeen inches with no retention of haddock during Wave 2 (March & April) but an open haddock season for the rest of the year. This move stimulated business to the point that the business became viable once more. It also made it much easier in policing the regulations during a trip.

    For the 2017 fishing, the regulations will be more restrictive again. It won't be as bad as it was in 2015. But it won't be as good as it was in 2016 either. The reason for this is that we went over the recreational quota for cod that we are allowed to take in a recreational fishing season. The last couple of years the cod and the haddock were tied together. What I mean by this is the way we fish for cod and haddock puts pressure on both species to some degree. In other words, if you are fishing for one species you are going to put pressure on the other. There is no way to ensure, for instance, that you are not going to catch cod if you are going for haddock. Nor are you going to get into the minds of the captains who go for groundfish. The cod, therefore, is the big problem. According to the figures the recreational angler caught twice as many cod was we were allocated for the fishing season last year (fiscal 2016). It was clear by those who were designing the models that in order to have a fishery where we were catching both cod and haddock that they could not allow any more cod landings to take place in fiscal fishing year 2017. So right off the bat we were faced with a new season without cod, just like the 2015 fishing season.

    What their models also showed was that keeping the haddock regulations the same as last year would still put cod landings over the minimum acceptance value needed to maintain low quota numbers. So, not only are we going to be saddled with another year of cod prohibition, we are also going to have to cut back on the haddock.

    [I took this picture (right) on a marathon trip in early May at 8:15 AM. This digital image shows twenty-three year old Andrew Claehsen (NJ) with his 233.75 pound porbeagle shark. It took Andrew a full hour of the most excellent angling posture and technique to bring this fish to gaff. This was the first pelagic game fish he has ever caught and he accomplished this feat with a cod rod! ]

    What this means for us is that the bag limit for haddock will still be 15 fish per person with a minimum size of 17" starting on April 15, 2017. On May 1, 2017, the beginning of the 2017 fiscal fishing year, the haddock bag limit will go down to 12 fish per person with the same minimum size limit. There will be a haddock prohibition starting on September 17, 2017 and extend until the end of October. We will be able to keep haddock again (12 fish bag limit & the 17" minimum size) starting November 1, 2017 until March 1, 2018, at which time it will close again to haddock until April 15, 2018. Cod will not be allowed to be landed (kept) from May 1, 2017 until May 1, 2018. At the time of this writing, there is a slim chance that the NMFS could tweak these regulations one way or the other. Nothing is totally set in stone yet. But I sincerely doubt that the regulations will be any different from the way I have described above.

    We will not be limited in the areas we can fish except for the Whaleback Spawning Closure to the south and east of the Isles of Shoals. As in 2016: There will be a 12 inch minimum size on winter (blackback) flounder, a 19 inch limit on pollock (with no bag limit), a 9 inch limit on redfish (with no bag limit) and a 41 inch limit on halibut (same as 2016). 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 size limit or bag limit on hake (both white, red & silver hake), mackerel and cusk. There is a minimum size of 54 inches (caliper fork length) for possessing mako sharks, porbeagle (mackerel) sharks & thresher sharks. You will be able to land a bluefin or two or three or four (per vessel) of an undetermined size (to be established at the beginning of the season on June 1, 2017). It is illegal to keep barndoor skates, eel pouts and wolffish.

    The start date of April 13, 2017 has been determined as the date of our first fishing trip of the season, a marathon trip where I will be the captain and Captain Ian Keniston will be the deck hand. Jared Keniston could also be working that day. Sometimes Jared goes the first day, sometimes he doesn't. I have selected that date because I want to look around the fishing grounds, there should be plenty of redfish available. We can keep pollock. With the mild winter we are having we should see pollock early. And, of course, there is a good chance we will catch a halibut, see a big cod and get an idea of how the haddock fishing will be when we can keep them two days later. I love the first trip of the year. To me it's not the keeping of the fish that's most important. It's the catching!

    As of this writing, the Omnibus Habitat Amendment is still in a state of flux within the NMFS. This amendment is the one that would restructure the closed areas, opening up many new areas of bottom to commercial fishing that have been closed since 1996 or even earlier. This was supposed to go to public hearing at some point in 2016. That never happened. I'm not sure what this means. The move was very controversial. At the time of the amendment's inception, the cod stocks were thought to be healthier than we know they are now. And the benefit of the closed areas to the increased haddock population wasn't a popular belief. Now, both of these situations are recognized as true. Opening new areas would mostly certainly hurt the cod population. And no one wants to lose the haddock again.

    In last year's Guestletter I mentioned that there was a move to make the Cashes Ledge closed commercial fishing area and an area near the canyons to the east of Georges Bank a Marine National Monument. National Monuments are designated by Presidential Proclamation, via the Antiquities Act of 1906. The Act provides broad power to set aside public areas for protection, and requires no public process. On September 15, 2016, President Obama gave the area off Georges Bank Marine National Monument status but did nothing with Cashes Ledge closed area. By proclamation, President Obama took this area east of Georges Bank out of the control of the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC). Cashes Ledge, on the other hand, remains managed by the NEFMC. The NEFMC made the decision to close the Cashes Ledge area after 1996. The NMFS rubber stamped the decision. The area off Georges Bank covers 5,000 square miles and is labeled the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. Presidential Proclamation denoted the “great abundance and diversity as well as stark geological relief” of the area as a reason for doing so. In plain terms, many of the conservation groups wanted the area closed because of the deep sea corals found there. I do support one of the conservation groups, the Conservation Law Foundation of Boston, Masschusetts, that worked on this project. And I do believe that the CLF is right in trying to keep the Cashes Ledge closed area free from commercial fishing. So do I. In fact, I helped the CLF make a video where I appear giving my thoughts on keeping Cashes closed. There is some beautiful underwater footage in this video. My fear is that making the Cashes Ledge closed area a Marine Monument could prohibit access for any user group in the future, including recreational anglers. On the other hand, a Cashes Ledge Marine Monument could do the area some good. For one it would prevent mid-water herring trawlers from gaining access into that area. These trawlers drag large nets of small mesh that not only catch the herring they are targeting but also catch the herring's predators including cod, whales, tuna, etc. As I told Tom Nies, the Executive Director of the NEFMC, when I was asked if I wanted to see Cashes Ledge as a Marine National Monument; if I thought that leaving the Cashes Ledge closed area in the hands of the NEFMC would mean that, at some future date, Cashes Ledge would be open to commercial activity, I would support a Marine National Monument designation in a heart beat. Right now the Cashes Ledge closed area allows recreational fishing of all kinds, tuna fishing, mid-water trawling and lobstering. The mid-water trawlers are, by far, the most detrimental fishery in New England and should not be allowed in any closed area of New England. Would it be worth making Cashes Ledge a Marine National Monument for this reason alone? The CLF wants a preservation guarantee. I've told you my thoughts.

    Here are some other future fishery management challenges ahead of us in New England waters as it relates to our groundfish. These are problems that need to be addressed before we can have a healthy sustainable fishery:

  • A per vessel limit needs to be proposed in the current Catch Share system (the so called "Commercial Sectors") of commercial fishing that prevents big draggers (trawlers) from catching large quantities of regulated groundfish species and specific species. Catching large percentages of a sector's species quota by one boat undermines the rebuilding process, particularly where it relates to the dwindling cod spawning stock biomass, one example. And it decreases the viability of a healthy inshore commercial fleet by drawing larger boats to the inshore areas where they can take fish that would otherwise belong to smaller vessels. Differential treatment such as this might decrease or eliminate the competition between the small inshore (mom & pop) commercial boat and the big offshore boat. Plus, it might allow fish to move through an area before they are all caught up.

    [The digital image on the left was taken by Captain Jared Keniston near the end of May 2016. The angler is T. J. Jarvais (ME) holding the 66 pound halibut that he caught while fishing on a Bunny Clark extreme day trip with Captain Jared and Micah Tower (my son, and deck hand that day). This is the second largest halibut that has ever been landed by an angler on the Bunny Clark. This was T. J.'s first deep sea fishing trip. He caught it while using a bait rig with one of our jigging sticks. ]

  • Haddock bycatch has to be reduced in the herring mid-water trawler fleet so as to maintain healthy stock structure in the haddock biomass. We have a haddock population that is moving toward becoming "recovered". We need to keep the haddock stock growing by reducing the large quantity of haddock that are caught while trawling for herring. First, it will keep those trawlers from going into areas where haddock and other groundfish are prevalent. Second, it will reduce or eliminate the incentive to target haddock. Two years ago one mid-water herring trawler landed 100,000 pounds of clear (only) haddock. There is a no-sale provision on haddock caught as bycatch. But many lobstermen up and down the coast have paid for thousands of pounds of haddock along with the herring in bait barrels - including me!

  • Competition between the mid-water herring trawlers and the predator species associated with large schools of herring needs to be addressed. Herring is a forage fish, probably the most important forage fish, for all the groundfish species, tuna, sharks and whales. Without the herring in the closed areas, the predators will go elsewhere to find them in unprotected waters. Removal of the herring resource has the potential to move the more desired species far enough offshore as to be out of reach for the average recreational angler - or small boat commercial fisherman. This includes the practice of "localized depletion" where large schools of herring gather in certain areas for periods of time. Mid-water herring trawlers take advantage of this behavioral pattern and work the area until the fish are gone. This takes the herring away from the important predator species in particular areas. Bycatch of the predator species in areas such as these can be high, too high. And it skews biomass and stock population data by making it seem like there are more herring out there than there actually are as landings data is a big part of population dynamics. We have not learned how to judge the accurate size of fish populations in New England without relying on landings data. We simply don't have the science.

  • The closed commercial fishing areas need to be maintained and monitored for significant periods of time. Towing small mesh in these areas by any dragger or trawler (including mackerel & herring trawlers) should be prohibited. As of right now it is not.

    These are just a small number of the challenges we face in the New England fishery. But I feel they are most germane to us. I was reluctant at first to put these last few paragraphs in this Guestletter as I did last year. But all of this is important to the recreational angler, our Bunny Clark groundfish fishermen. And it serves to educate those who may be less informed about what is happening in the waters around us. It also may give individuals knowledge they otherwise might not have if I didn't mention it. And it might bring more anglers into the fishery management process to argue against unfair practices that threaten to undermine the groundfish recovery plan. We need a healthy sustainable fishery for both recreational and commercial fishermen. This will not happen if we just stand by and watch.

    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 2016 fishing season. Keep in mind that all the represented weights of these fish were taken aboard the Bunny Clark using a registered scale shortly after capture (the same way it has been done since our first fishing trip on the Bunny Clark in May 1983). I feel that this is the fairest comparison between the angler’s fish since weight loss is proportional to the amount of time the fish is out of water. This also makes the weight of every fish caught comparable through all the past and present Bunny Clark fishing seasons.


    FISH - lbs.

    LENGTH X GIRTH (inches)


    Steve Brown (ME)

    Monkfish 15.5


    Steve Kaczala (NJ)

    Monkfish 10


    Ally Fuehrer (ME)

    Monkfish 9


    Dan LaRoche (MA)

    Monkfish 8


    Gloria Gennari (MA)

    Monkfish 8


    Chandler St. Clair (ME)

    Monkfish 8


    Steve Selmer (NH) is shown on the right holding his 18.5 pound Maine state trophy cusk, caught during the summer on a Bunny Clark offshore fishing trip. This was our fifth largest cusk of the 2016 season.

    Rodney Lensing (IA)

    Barndoor Skate 26.5*



    Rich Gargan (NY)

    Barndoor Skate 24*



    John Baker (ME)

    Barndoor Skate 22*



    Kurt Gilmore (MA)

    Barndoor Skate 19*



    Chris LeBlanc (MA)

    Barndoor Skate 18.5*



    Rob Provost (MA)

    Redfish 2.5

    17 X 13


    Ron Anderson (MA)

    Redfish 2.25

    17.5 X 13


    Neil Chamberlin (NH)

    Redfish 2.25

    16.75 X 12.75


    Ron Anderson (MA)

    Redfish 2.1


    Bryan Lewer (ME/FL)

    Redfish 2

    17 X 12


    Travis Mahon (ME)

    Redfish 2

    17.25 X 12.5


    Katie Baumann (MA)

    Redfish 2

    16.5 X 13


    Mike Salvatore (MA)

    Wolffish 21.5***


    Mark Jolin (MA)

    Wolffish 18***


    Don Spencer (VT)

    Wolffish 17.5***


    Keith O'Rourke (RI)

    Wolffish 16***


    Ryan Smith (ME)

    Wolffish 14***


    Mark Carter (CT)

    Wolffish 14***


    The shot on the right is a picture of Grueys Reamos (PA) holding a double keeper catch of redfish which he caught on the April 21, 2016 marathon trip. We caught over 300 redfish that day for only seven anglers. This was one of two or three days during the season where we targeted redfish exclusively. The reason for redfish fishing on this date was that we could not keep haddock or cod. The redfish fishing was excellent in April of 2016. This is a very good eating fish.

    Pat Sweenor (NY)

    Pollock 25

    39.5 X 23


    Kurt Gilmore (MA)

    Pollock 23.5


    Karl Day (ME)

    Pollock 23.5


    Dave Sampson (MA)

    Pollock 22.75


    Dennis Pine (PA)

    Pollock 22.5


    Karl Day (ME)

    Pollock 22.5


    Bryan Lewer (FL/ME)

    White Hake 40.5

    46 X 31


    Steve Selmer (NH)

    White Hake 40

    49 X 30


    Ray Westermann (MA)

    White Hake 38

    42 X 28


    Dave Gray (VT)

    White Hake 37

    46 X 29


    Lewis Hazelwood (MA)

    White Hake 37

    44 X 28


    Mark Lemieux (ME)

    Haddock 7.25

    28.5 X 16


    The digital image on the right was taken during a full day trip in the middle of August 2016. The angler in the shot is Johan Halvorsen (ME) holding his 20 pound pollock while his father, Arne Halvorsen (ME), watches, while fishing, in the background. This is the largest fish that Johan has ever caught. The pollock was the twenty-third largest pollock of the 2016 Bunny Clark fishing season.

    Jon Griffin (MA)

    Whiting 4.1

    26.5 X 10.25


    Dave Symes (ME)

    Whiting 3.5

    24 X 10


    Dennis Pine (PA)

    Whiting 3

    24 X 11


    Dan Kelley (ME)

    Whiting 2.9


    Danielle Fowler (VT)

    Whiting 2.75


    Dave Lewis (PA)

    Whiting 2.75


    Frank Rippy (PA)

    Whiting 2.75


    Steve Selmer (NH)

    Lobster 2**



    David Archambault (NH)

    Lobster 2**



    John Baker (ME)

    Lobster 1.25**



    David MacDonald (MA)

    Cusk 27.25

    40 X 24


    Dave Miller (MA)

    Cusk 22

    37 X 23


    Bryan Lewer (FL/ME)

    Cusk 20.5

    39 X 20


    David MacDonald (MA)

    Cusk 19.25


    Steve Selmer (NH)

    Cusk 18.5

    36.5 X 22


    Bryan Lewer (FL/ME)

    Cod 45.5***


    Lewis Hazelwood (MA)

    Cod 21.5***


    Mike Wicks (NY)

    Cod 21.5


    Chris Albert (ME)

    Cod 21.5


    Dan Demers (VT)

    Cod 19.5***


    Bryan Lewer (FL/ME), shown right, runs his own charter fishing business out of Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, Maine in the summer. When I can tease him away from his business and get him on the Bunny Clark, he is capable of catching some wonderful fish. Case in point, he is shown here holding his 45.5 pound cod which he caught on the Special Offshore Fishing Trip in July 2016. This is the largest cod he has ever caught. It's also the largest cod that has been caught on the Bunny Clark since Liam Kennedy (NJ) caught a 47.5 pound cod during the marathon trip of May 19, 2011! Special anglers, like Bryan, are the kind of special individuals we like to see sailing on the Bunny Clark!

    T. J. Jarvais (ME)

    Halibut 66



    Jack Rivers (ME)

    Halibut 59



    Luke Keniston (ME)

    Halibut 35 - 45****



    Gary Plourde (NH)

    Halibut 27.25


    Chris Helander (ME)

    Halibut 24+**


    Andrew Claehsen (NJ)

    Porbeagle Shark 233.75

    77.5 X 43


    Mark Laroche (VT)

    Porbeagle Shark 135



    Adam Abel (CT)

    Porbeagle Shark 55



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

    * Barndoor skates are presently on the endangered species list. All the skates listed were released back to the ocean alive after a quick picture of the angler with his/her fish.

    ** These fish (lobsters) were sub-legal or illegal to keep and released back to the ocean alive.

    *** Federal regulation has prohibited the retention of wolffish for a few years now. Federal regulations for 2016 also prohibited the retention of cod during the 2016 season, except during the months of August & September.

    **** We had already boated a smaller legal halibut. Federal law prohibits retention of more than one halibut per trip!

  • Bryan Lewer was the only angler to appear four times in the top five trophy list for the 2016 Bunny Clark fishing season. Steve Selmer appeared three times. David MacDonald, Dennis Pine, John Baker, Karl Day, Kurt Gilmore, Lewis Hazelwood and Ron Anderson all appeared twice in the top five last year.

  • The haddock that appears in the trophy list above were all the trophy haddock that were caught during the 2016 Bunny Clark fishing season. One!

  • The 2013 season was the first Bunny Clark season ever where we didn't see a cod over 20 pounds. In fact, it was the first season that we didn't see a cod over 30 pounds! And, because of that, I didn't take the time to list the top five cod in that Guestletter. After the 2014 fishing season I decided to list the top five, in keeping with every other Guestletter I have ever written. During the 2014 fishing season we did catch two cod of 20 pounds or better. During the 2015 season, Larry Kabat's 25.5 pound cod was the largest cod the Bunny Clark had seen since Liam Kennedy (NJ) caught a 32 pound Maine state trophy cod on May 15, 2012! And, as mentioned, Bryan's 45.5 pounder was the largest cod the Bunny Clark has seen in over five years! So I believe we are starting to see larger cod and more of them every season. Let's test my prediction in 2017!

    [On the left is a digital image of Fourteen year old Erin Harris (MA), our best young angler (under 18 years old) and our female angler of the 2016 fishing season. This digital image was taken on June 16, 2016 during a marathon trip. At the time this picture was taken, Erin was fighting a 14.5 pound pollock. That pollock was the second largest fish of the trip that day.]

  • Jon Griffin's whiting is the fourth largest whiting that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark. Interestingly enough, Chris Porter (MA), a late friend of Griff's (and ours) caught a 4 pound whiting late during the 2014 Bunny Clark fishing season that is tied for fifth all time. In the early 60's, I caught one that weighed 7 pounds. I may have caught it in a bait net. I don't recall. But that was not so unusual then. I used whiting larger than 7 pounds (that I bummed off local draggers) as hook-baits to catch bluefin tuna between 1972 and 1975. Seeing more whiting now than when I first started with the Bunny Clark in 1983 has to be good news. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the future of the whiting biomass.

  • Our hake last season, for size, was right up there with some of the biggest hake we have caught over the years, although nowhere near the sizes of hake we caught in the early 1980s. However, I do believe that the hake Steve Selmer lost during the Ultra Marathon trip could have been one of the biggest in years. I had planned to wait and retrieve the hake after a few minutes of drifting as the fish was floating like they normally do. And there seemed no rush because, even if it were the boat pool, he never brought the fish to gaff before it got off the hook. So Steve would have been disqualified from winning a pool with the hake. This fish was nowhere to be found when we went looking for it after the drift.

  • Dick Slocum's 304 pound porbeagle, caught on May 17, 2015, is the largest porbeagle shark that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark. That's impressive when you consider that he was only using one of our "cod rods". However, the second largest porbeagle ever caught on the Bunny Clark was Andrew Claehsen's 233.75 pound shark caught on May 10, 2016. Not only did Andrew land this shark while using one of our special Surfland cod jig sticks, but it was his first deep sea fishing trip ever. Had you been there you would have thought that he does this all the time. The third largest porbeagle shark caught aboard the Bunny Clark weighed 217.5 pounds, caught by Jon Tesnakis (NY) on October 21, 2005. The fourth largest weighed 171.5 pounds and was caught by Dave Haberl (MO) on October 25, 2012. Mark Laroche's 135 pound porbeagle is the Bunny Clark's fifth largest porbeagle shark ever caught.

  • We caught quite a few trophy redfish last season but no real giants like we did last year or redfish of 3 pounds or better as we have in previous seasons. To our credit, we spent less time targeting redfish than any other fishing season. That's just the way the season worked out.

    [The picture on the right is a digital image of FY '16 Jon "Griff" Griffin holding his 32 pound Maine state trophy white hake, the pool winning/largest fish of the October 6, 2016 marathon trip and the Bunny Clark's ninth largest hake of the season. Griff is normally a pretty fishy guy but he was the fishiest off all the Bunny Clark patrons last season!]

  • As mentioned above, this is the sixth season in a row that a bluefin tuna was not landed on the Bunny Clark. The last one that was caught weighed 176.5 pounds and was landed in June 8, 2010 by Jim Phelon (NH). The largest bluefin tuna that has ever been landed, by "cod rod", on the Bunny Clark was a 365 pounder caught on July 17, 2009 by Paul McCullough (NH). I harpooned one that weighed approximately 775 pounds off the Bunny Clark on the way to the fishing grounds in July of 1984 and two others that year in the 600 pound range. At least one bluefin was landed, via cod rod, every year on the Bunny Clark through the years starting in 2004 through 2010. We even had a trip during those years when three bluefins were brought to gaff all at the same time! Our two best chances for boating a bluefin of reasonable size occurred on October 11 & 20, both marathon trips. Jesse Sheasley (PA) fought a small medium bluefin for forty-five minutes when he broke his rod, the first two feet from the tip. I believe the tip that had slid down the line to the jig had something to do with breaking the line five minutes later. On the second try, Matt Day (ME) was the angler. A deck hand, working for Phil Eastman (Eastman Docks) at the time and on a bus man's holiday with me, he hooked his bluefin completely free of other angler's lines. Somehow, the line just broke. There could have been any number of reasons why, none of them the fault of Matt. I suspect, the fish inhaled the jig with the leader line in a position to chaff on the tuna's teeth. Both anglers on both trips were gaining on their fish when they were lost. Had the lines not parted, it would have just been a matter of time before the fish were brought to gaff.

  • There have been thirty-two barndoor skates caught on the Bunny Clark since we caught our first one during the 2008 fishing season. Our two largest barndoor skates were caught during the 2015 Bunny Clark fishing season, a 33 pounder caught by Wayne Statham (QC), our largest ever, and a 31 pounder caught by Josh Cabral (RI). Rodney Lensing's (IA) 26.5 pounder, caught last season, is the third largest barndoor skate that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark.

  • T.J. Jarvais' halibut comes in at second all time for size caught on the Bunny Clark. While Jack Rivers' (ME) 59 pounder is the third largest halibut that has ever been landed on the Bunny Clark. The largest halibut that was ever landed on the Bunny Clark was an 83.5 pounder that was caught by Ron Worley (NY) in June of 2007. Oddly enough, my son had a halibut on at the same time that day that, I believe, was a bigger fish. But he was eleven years old at the time. And my devotion had to be with my patron first so Micah ended up parting off his fish while I was helping Ron with his. The fourth largest halibut was a 55 pounder caught by Jeff Miller (NH) in May of 1984 only two nautical miles off Perkins Cove. I truly believe that the fifth largest halibut was a fish of approximately 45 pounds that was caught by eleven year old Luke Keniston, Captain Jared Keniston's son, on June 30, 2016. Luke had a halibut up next to the boat for a couple of minutes while I tried to get it in the boat to weigh it without hurting it. We had already boated a legal halibut earlier in the trip. So we couldn't legally keep Luke's. As luck would have it, the line broke while I was trying to figure this all out and the fish swam away. I could have gaffed that fish fifty times in the time I was playing with it on the surface at the stern of the boat. Officially, John Andreychak's 37 pound halibut becomes the fifth largest halibut ever caught on the Bunny Clark. John's fish was caught in the summer of 2015.

    [The digital image, left, shows FY '16 Jon "Griff" Griffin holding his 22 pound pool winning (and largest fish of the trip) pollock, caught on the October 27, 2016 marathon trip. On that same day, Griff caught the forth largest whiting that has ever been landed off the Bunny Clark.]

  • We seem to be catching a few lobsters every year. During the 2015 season we caught three. Last season as well. David Archambault's lobster wasn't actually weighed as he caught an old fishing line first. When he pulled the line in there was a female lobster with eggs tangled in the old line at the other end. Not only is it illegal to keep a lobster that hasn't been caught in a trap, it's also illegal to keep any lobster with eggs. And since the lobster wasn't actually hooked, Captain Ian released it without weighing it. So the 2 pounds is actually an estimate. The fact that we catch any lobsters at all makes me think that the population in Maine in booming. If you look at Maine's landings statistics year to year you would know that it is!

  • Mike "Sal" Salvatore's wolffish is the largest wolffish that has been caught on the Bunny Clark since John Gardner (NY) caught one that weighed 28.5 pounds on September 26, 2010. On July 13, 2012, Dick Lyle (PA) caught a wolffish slightly smaller at 21 pounds. And the last time we caught wolffish as large or larger than Mark Jolin's (MA) wolffish was when Matt Savarie (NY) caught a 20 pounder on June 17, 2013. The last time a wolffish was caught as big or bigger than Don Spencer's 17.5 pounder was on August 7, 2013 or when Greg Messier (ME) also caught a wolffish of 17.5 pounds. In this day and age when we aren't targeting wolffish and it's illegal to take them, catching three wolffish this large in one season is quite a feat.

  • David MacDonald's 27.25 pound Maine state trophy cusk is the largest cusk that has been caught on the Bunny Clark since Jon Griffin caught his 28 pound Maine state trophy cusk on July 20, 2010. The only cusk as large or larger than David's or Griff's, since 2004, was a 29 pound cusk caught by Dan Kelley (ME) on June 10, 2008. During the 2004 fishing season Annette Curri (NY) caught a 30 pound cusk while Ray Johnson (NH) caught a cusk that weighed 30.5 pounds. The largest cusk that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark was caught by Kenton Geer (NH/HI). It weighed 36 pounds and was caught on October 11, 2002. I gaffed that fish myself. But, before I did, the cusk spit up seven whole herring that could have been added to the weight of the fish, officially, had the cusk retained what it had eaten when we boated the fish! This trophy cusk became the Maine state record and remains so today. It could have been the world record but Kenton also had a fly above the jig he was using that disqualified the catch due to the fly's proximity to the jig! David has caught a lot of big fish with me, including other trophy cusk. But his 27.25 pound cusk is the largest cusk he has ever caught.

    Fisherman of the Year (FY-’16): Jon "Griff" Griffin (MA) wins this award for the second time in as many seasons. He has been close for many years including fourth place in 2014 and third place in 2013. The last two years were the first two years he has won this award.

    [The shot on the right is a digital image of Katie Baumann and, dory mate, Jon Griffin holding double keeper catches of pollock that they caught almost simultaneously on the marathon trip of October 6, 2016. Of course, a double is a catch with two fish caught on the same line at the same time, quite a feat with such big fish and only 60 pound test leader line. Katie's double included one pollock of 19.5 pounds and one of 8 pounds while Griff's double included a 16 pound pollock and a 17 pound pollock, a tie for the third largest double of the Bunny Clark fishing season, officially.]

    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 2016 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 and many seasons in the business. These special anglers and incidents are as follows:

    As most of you know by now, the FY award is based on a point system that relates to specific achievements during each trip for a season on the Bunny Clark. 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. Griff was the man again last season. Griff did very well in a number of categories that lead him to the top. He was the fisherman of the day (high hook and largest fish on the same trip) more times than any other angler, he tied with Jack Judge (CT/ME) for the most boats pools last season, he tied for the third largest, official, double keeper catch of the Bunny Clark season, he caught the largest whiting of the year (and fourth largest all time Bunny Clark whiting), he tied for the seventh largest pollock of the Bunny Clark season, he landed the sixth, seventh, ninth, twelfth and twenty-eighth largest hake of the Bunny Clark season (four of these were Maine state trophies), he tied for the sixth largest cusk of the season (an 18 pound Maine state trophy) and he caught the second most trophy fish of the Bunny Clark fishing season. Griff is always in the running for the best angler in a season. I think the main reasons for this is his expertise (of course) but also his calm attitude, his love of the sport, the fun he has while angling and his ability to adapt when the fishing changes. Also, it doesn't hurt that he has the best dory mate sitting beside him on almost every trip in Ray Westermann. It's always a great pleasure to have these two anglers aboard. And it certainly gives me one of the best reasons to keep doing what I do. Congratulations, Griff. This award means a lot to me. I hope it means as much to you!

    Griff's total point count was 92, nine more points than he won with last season. Ray Westermann came in second place with a point total of 70. Ray was second last year as well. This year he finished with 26 more points than last year. Because both anglers were less than 30 points apart I had to add comparative value points (CVPs), something I didn't have to do last year. This is accomplished by comparing only the trips where they fished together and doubling the FY points each angler receives and adding these points to the current total. In some cases it can be a difference maker when two anglers only fish on the same trip a few times a year. In this case, it just increased the difference between the two anglers, giving Griff the majority of the extra points. This added 51 more points to Griff's figure above while only adding 26 points to Ray's total. Jack Judge (ME/MA) was third with 49 points, these points attained without a single trophy fish and the first time that Jack has been in the top five anglers for an Bunny Clark FY designation. Lewis Hazelwood was fourth with 43 points. Norm Herrick (MA/ME) was fifth with 37 points - and not a single Maine state trophy that would have added 3 points a fish!

    Female Angler of the Year: Fourteen year old Erin Harris (MA) got the nod for last season. The season before she came in second but was beaten by Katie Baumann (MA) because Katie had two particularly large Maine state trophy fish (a 36.25 white hake - the fourth largest hake of the 2015 season & a 21.25 pound cusk the second largest cusk of the 2015 season) that put her over the top. This year Katie, again, caught a Maine state trophy, a 2 pound redfish. But it wasn't enough to garner the points that Erin totaled in other categories. Erin had one slow trip. In any kind of data sample collection, this would be called an outlier and thrown out of the study. So this is what I did (and do in other cases - including fishery management data sets). Erin was high hook or nearly so in every other trip she attended. She is a gifted angler. This, I'm sure, has a lot to do with her father, Dave Harris (MA), who has been taking her fishing for years and is an excellent fisherman himself. My fondest hope is that Erin keeps fishing when she gets out of her teens and her body gets stronger. On one trip, a marathon trip in late June, the trip that put her over the top for this award, she shared high hook and caught the second, third and fourth largest fish of the trip. Because we were targeting pollock, she rigged up for pollock and caught more big pollock than any angler aboard on that trip. Her competition that day, Tim Rozan (ME), tied her in fish count but his count was mostly cod which he was fishing for (as well as for haddock). At that time of year we could not keep cod. So if you consider legal fish to take home, Erin caught the most. I've been amazed by this girl for two years in a row. But until I had her on a trip where I was the captain (that didn't happen in 2015) I didn't realize how good she really was. Congratulations, Erin! I certainly hope I see you aboard this coming season!

    [In the digital image, left, FY '16 Jon "Griff" Griffin can be seen holding the fourth largest whiting that has ever been landed off the Bunny Clark. This is a species of fish I am really looking to come back in a big way in our fishery.]

    Best Bait Fisherman: Shameless Ray “The Pole Tossing Master Baiter” Westermann was dethroned last season after winning this award for eight seasons in a row, the longest standing "best bait fisherman" in Bunny Clark history. The new award winner for last year was Steve Brown (ME). Steve caught the most or nearly the most haddock on every trip he attended last season. The haddock is mostly caught with bait a true indicator of an angler's bait fishing prowess. I hated to drop Ray out of the mix this year but Steve was definitely superior in this category. And, really, Ray puts more emphasis on jig fishing than Steve does, and more so this year than other seasons. Steve has been getting better every year but never really had the results in other years that he did this last one. Steve also caught the largest monkfish of the season last year with one that weighed 15.5 pounds on a day where the wind was blowing out of the northeast at twenty knots with big chops and probably the worst bait fishing day of the season. And, still, Steve came out on top, the monkfish being the last fish caught on that trip and the boat pool as well. And, yes, the monk was caught with bait. There were only sixteen haddock caught on that trip an yet Steve caught a few. Congrat's, Steve! Always nice to have you aboard.

    Most Aces: For those who don’t know, an angler scores an Ace when he or she lands the three (or more) largest fish during a single trip. There can be no ties in fish size with other anglers in order to achieve true “Ace” status. There was only one Ace landed during the 2014 fishing season, six Aces in 2013 and not a single Ace in 2012. The 2012 season was the first season that the Bunny Clark didn't see a single Ace. The 2015 season was the second! During the 2016 fishing season there was only one Ace. This Ace was caught by Ron Schofield (NY) on a full day trip with Captain Ian Keniston. His three largest fish for the trip included a 14 pound pollock, a 13 pound pollock and a 12 pound pollock. The fourth largest fish on that trip was an 11 pound pollock. The last time an Ace was caught was on April 17, 2014, almost two years and four months earlier. The angler who caught the Ace that day was none other than Ray Westermann!

    Most Trophy Fish (including hake over 15 pounds, cod & pollock over 20 pounds, redfish 2 pounds or more, haddock of 7 pounds or more and the fish seldom caught with rod & reel including monkfish, barndoor skates, whiting, torpedo rays, porbeagle sharks, bluefin tuna, wolffish & halibut) of the Season: Ray Westermann caught the most with a count of nine. Jon Griffin and Bryan Lewer tied for second place with eight trophy fish each. Steve Selmer took fourth place with seven trophy fish. And Dave Miller and Lewis Hazelwood tied for fifth place with four trophy fish each.

    Top Five Largest Fish of the Bunny Clark Season: Andrew Claehsen caught the largest with the 233.75 pound porbeagle shark. Mark Laroche came in second with his 135 pound porbeagle shark. T. J. Jarvis was third with his 66 pound halibut. Jack Rivers was fourth with his 59 pound halibut. Adam Abel was fifth with his 55 pound porbeagle shark.

    Most Trophy Fish during a Trip: Bryan Lewer was number one with seven trophy fish in one trip. Bryan only sailed with us for two trips last season. In those two trips he caught the biggest cod of the year (and many years) and the largest hake of the year. Steve Selmer and Ray Westermann tied for the second most trophy fish during a single trip with six each. Dave Miller and Jon Griffin tied for third place with four trophy fish each, all four caught on a single trip.

    [The picture on the right is a shot of Steve Brown holding his 15.5 pound monkfish which he caught on a particularly rough northeast wind day. This was the largest monkfish caught on the Bunny Clark during the 2016 fishing season. Digital image taken by Captain Jared Keniston.]

    Most Pools (largest fish of the trip): Jack Judge, Frank Noble (ME) & Jon Griffin all tied for the largest fish of the trip three times. Andrew Kerns (PA), Bryan Lewer, Chuck Lennon (MA), Norm Herrick, Hank Small (NH), Nick Rello (NJ) and John Russell (ME) tied for second place with a count of two pools each. Incidently, Norm Herrick probably would have won two more pools but his wife, LuAnne, won once and Norm's son, Robert (MA), won on another trip that Norm was on!

    High Hook: Norm Herrick was high hook (the most legal fish on a trip) on eight different trips, the most for an angler during the 2016 Bunny Clark fishing season. Fred Kunz (NH) & Jack Judge tied for second place with four counts each. Tim Williams (CT), Frank Noble, Ray Westermann, Steve Brown & Steve Selmer tied for third place with three counts each.

    Biggest Double: (The most combined weight of two fish caught on the same line at the same time.) The following statement seems harder and harder to write every time I do. Unofficially, eleven year old Luke Keniston, Jared's son, caught the largest double of the year during a June 30, 2016 offshore marathon trip. I couldn't gaff the halibut in question that was part of the weight. But I honestly do believe that that fish was over 40 pounds and probably nearer 50 pounds. It lay on the surface with me playing with it for two minutes before it took off. Luke's other fish, a 6 pound pollock, was weighed shortly afterward. The next double or the largest official double was one that included two pollock, one that weighed 22.5 pounds (a tie for the fifth largest pollock of the B.C. season) and another that weighed 13 pounds. The angler was Karl Day (ME). Karl also caught the next largest double on the same trip in late October. That double included a 23.5 pound pollock (the third largest pollock of the season) and an 11.5 pound pollock. The third official largest double included a 16 pound pollock and a 17 pound pollock. The angler was Jon Griffin in early October 2016. Griff also tied with Jeff Bailey (NY) who got to 33 pounds with a 19 pound pollock and a 14 pound pollock, in mid-September 2016. Jeff's was caught on an extreme day trip. Travis Mustone (MA) caught the fifth (or sixth) largest double on July 16, 2016, a day trip. His double included a 15 pound pollock and a 17 pound pollock. The top four double keeper catches were all taken on marathon trips.

    Hardest Luck: The hardest luck of the year goes to Joe Dressner (NY) while on an extreme day trip in late May. He had laid his rod on the rail with his jig over the side for just a second when a roll of the boat and the weight of his terminal tackle flipped it over the side. There was very little line left out so there was nothing to catch by dragging another jig on the bottom through the area where he lost it. Sad thing is I can still see that rod and all the fish Joe used to catch with it. I'm sure Joe can still see it too! Unfortunately, unless someone else returns it to him, he'll only see it in his imagination!

    Second goes to Cameron Fournier (ME) who, during an offshore marathon trip, fought a twenty-five foot piece of two and a half inch (diameter) tug hawser (rope) from the bottom. It took him a full half hour of fighting (and coaching) to bring this "monster" to gaff. I don't think it killed him. In fact, I know it didn't. But it did put a little damper in his day when he found out it was not the big halibut we were all expecting!

    [Rich Gargan (NY) can be seen on the left, holding up his 24 pound barndoor skate before releasing it back to the ocean alive. Before 2008 we had never seen a barndoor skate on the Bunny Clark. Now it's not unusual to see one caught. Rich's was the second largest barndoor caught on the boat last season and only two pounds shy of the fourth largest barndoor skate we have ever seen.]

    I don't know if you can measure the magnitude of someone's mal de mer. Certainly Charles Darwin has to be a prime example of the worst. He claimed that, from his voyage on the H.M.S. Beagle, he never got over his sea sickness after the voyage was over - for the rest of his life! Certainly Donna Moran's (NY) claim that she hurled nineteen times on one Bunny Clark fishing trip last year is not cheery news. But I have to say, if I was going to bring up the worst example of someone being sea sick last season, the one I think who had it really bad was Chen Nhath (MA) during the June 9, 2016 marathon trip. She is the mother (and I say "is" because she did survive) of one of our semi-regular anglers. It was choppy out of the southwest that day. She didn't feel great on the way out. But she totally lost it once we stopped. Never wetting a line and not daring to go below, she laid between two fish boxes all day and was deathly ill for the entire trip and the ride back in. Today she would probably tell you that she thought she was going to die. And I believe that half way through the day she was hoping she would die and get it over with! But she did make it back to the dock. And she left the boat of her own volition. Probably, never to come back again. The sad part is, I never got to talk to her. Nor was I able to encourage her to fish!

    Most Improved Angler: George Smart (NY) is the one I chose to receive this accolade for 2016. George has been noted, indeed marked, for his tangles over the course of the last few years. He uses a color of Spectre line that is the hardest to see in the water, dark green. And, in the past, it had appeared to me that he had no clue. In fact, the first time I had George on the boat, I spent most of the day sitting next to him on the bench seat working on his tangles. I also said something that I shouldn't have said that day, in frustration. And it left me wondering, after he left the boat, if I would ever see him again. But he did come back and he's been a great patron of ours ever since. The trip that stuck out in my mind was the marathon trip of June 2, 2016. George was perfect on that trip. What's most remarkable was that George Smart wasn't the "terrible tangler" I expected him to be. He was civil, kept to his fishing and had relatively few screw ups (He had a different expression for that!). George caught a lot of haddock, the largest of which was 5 pounds. I was impressed! And I am looking forward to seeing him this season with his usual gang! Until then, George, all the best.

    Best Team: As I say every year, we have had some of the greatest fishing teams. In last year's Guestletter I wrote about a couple, Les & Linda Paul (ME), that will probably go down in Bunny Clark history as the best all time. They have been involved with a health problem that has prevented them from participating. I wish them well. Last year, we had two teams. One team, who I seem to always mention, was the team of Brian & Marian "Merv" Murphy (NH). They fished on the full day trips exlusively. The full day trip is a shorter trip. But their catch better reflected what you would see an angler land on the extreme day trips. And this is what made them shine in my mind. One of them usually wins the pool, is high hook or both. And they have an uncanny knack of making everyone who they fish around part of their fishing team. I can't say enough good about them. And it pains me that I am never aboard as the captain. So they are "the" team on the weekend trips they attend.

    On the marathon and extreme day trips, Jon Griffin and Ray Westermann were the team last year. After all, they garnered more points toward fisherman of the year than any other angler. But more than that, they fish together, enjoy the trip together and just work well together. Special things happen when they are aboard. There is not much more I can say. It is always a great day when I see them carrying their gear down the ramp to the Bunny Clark before a fishing trip, knowing I will be with them until they leave the boat when we get back.

    Exceptional Good Luck: Often times, from August through October, we have blue sharks around the boat, biting cod off the fishing lines as the terminal gear makes it's way to the surface. The fish is usually taken about half way from bottom. But I have been fooled at times when blue sharks will take a fish on a line right on the bottom. And normally, when very active, blue sharks will fin around the boat waiting to grab a fish from a line or a fish that is being returned. During the September 22, 2016 marathon trip, we had a similar situation with blue sharks. This was sporadic. After noon, a thresher shark started swimming around the bow. Now I have seen thresher sharks on fishing lines, finning away from the boat and jumping out of water as we travel from one place to another. But I have never been on a boat, looking down from the bow, and seen a sixteen or seventeen foot thresher shark swimming around behaving like a blue shark just under the surface. The thresher was actively pursuing the groundfish that were being brought up from the bottom on fishing lines - just like a blue shark! At one point it chased a cod to the surface, on Fred Kunz's line. Fred was fishing "the hoop", on the bow about two feet ahead of the wheel house. The thresher had turned and disappeared under the boat, heading aft after Fred swung the cod out of the water and into his grasp. Fred tossed the cod, probably about a 5 pounder, into the water ahead of the bow pulpit. The thresher came from out of nowhere, grabbed the cod in it's jaws and jumped completely out of the water about four feet from the bow pulpit! Never have I seen anything like this. After the jump we never saw that shark again. To me this is remarkable and memorable. And it's the first thresher shark I have really seen up close. Although we have hooked thresher sharks in the past, three to be exact, we have never been able to boat one. I feel very lucky that I was there to see such an event take place.

    [The digital image, right, shows Steve Selmer holding, officially, the largest lobster that was caught on the Bunny Clark last season. Steve, a long time regular angler on the Bunny Clark, is one of the best. And it's always great to have him aboard. He has caught some of the best fish we have ever landed off the Bunny Clark. And his father, Ken, was one of the anglers I looked most forward to having aboard.]

    The best luck of the year happened to me off the Bunny Clark last season. That was the moment when Sean Devich told me he would like to work as a deck hand last summer. I can't remember when I had heard any sweeter words spoken! We had been looking for a deck hand all spring. Nothing seemed to be working out. I had almost given up all hope when I got the word from Sean. Sean worked on the Bunny Clark as a deck hand before. But that isn't the best part. He was a great deck hand then. And I knew he would be even better. And he was. Soft spoken, kind, intelligent, informed, excellent fisherman, boat owner, respectful, etc. etc. These are only a few of the words I would use to describe him. He is a great boat handler and very much in tune to the role that Jared Keniston, Ian Keniston and I play. Anglers loved him. And why not? He rarely assumed anything, preferring to ask a patron first. And he was so good at everything in that position. Maybe he was slower in the beginning at filleting fish? But, if he was, I didn't really notice it. He was very good at filleting. That is what I try to harp on with new deck hands; be good at filleting first, you can always get faster later. And having Sean aboard couldn't have happened at a better time. Captain Ian Keniston had a health issue that had materialized in early May, the symptoms of which had been evident before had we known what to look for. So my son, Micah, had been helping out when Sean came on the scene. Captain Ian eventually got better and was in full capacity again by the end of the summer. At that time I would say that, collectively, the Bunny Clark had the best crew we have ever had on that boat. Sean continued to work for the whole season. He not only did a better job than even I expected, he gave me peace of mind. This allowed me to manage both the restaurants and the Bunny Clark unfettered by employee issues on the boat. Thank you, Sean. You made me a very happy man!

    Quote of the Year: "Oops!" The word I would assume Ray Westermann said when in a ceremony at sea, in the process of releasing Chris Porter's ashes, Ray chose the moment when his position on the boat was into the wind. Upon liberating the ashes from the urn, the ashes were blown across the deck and on everyone who was involved. I guess you could say that Porter's best friends just didn't want to let him go. Or maybe, it was Chris' way of hanging on until the very end. Or maybe it was a sign that Chris wanted to be a part of one more fishing trip on the Bunny Clark. I would like to think it was the later! I really missed that guy last season. But there were many others who missed that guy a lot more and knew him much better than I! [See last years Guestletter, the In Memoriam section)

    Most Unusual Catch: The most unusual catch was not actually a catch at all. It happened just before the sun came up or as the sun was coming up on the Ultra Marathon trip. Steve LaPlante (CT) was fishing in his usual position on the bow. He was using a jig, as he normally does. He took a cast in the direction the boat was drifting, the best direction to cast. I'm not sure if the jig even hit the water before the line started tearing out of his reel! My thought was that it was a bluefin tuna until it started to jump! And in so doing revealed itself as a thresher shark! That shark must have been at the surface right near where Steve had casted his jig. Threshers are mostly nocturnal feeders. Of the three times we have hooked up with one, two were at gray dawn, like Steve's. And one was near the edge of dark at dusk. We had a spectacular view of this fish. It jumped clear of the water about six times and then broke off! I was left speechless. This was only one of two times we encountered a thresher shark last season, the most of any season. But I have to tell you, it was quite a sight. I couldn't tell you how big the fish was. But it was certainly big enough for Steve to tell me that he didn't think he had a chance of landing that fish!

    Unexplained Phenomena:

  • We caught dogfish last summer (those little annoying "sand sharks" as some anglers call them). As we normally do. But we didn't catch a lot of dogfish. And we really never saw them on the afternoon half day trips. We haven't caught them on the afternoon trips for seven years now, probably longer than that. There was a time, when my son, Micah, was growing up that Micah and I would catch dogfish in lobster traps so close to shore that we had to bring the trap through the kelp before taking the trap out of the water and landing the trap on the wash rail. In those days, the traps could be so full of dogfish that the added weight would make it very hard to break the trap over the rail. But that was one of a few summers before we stopped seeing them in lobster traps and during the half day trips on the Bunny Clark. For years there were times on the afternoon half day trips where all we would catch was dogfish. In those days we would rarely see many of them offshore. They were either inshore or offshore, rarely both. In the last seven or more years that is the only place we see the dogfish. Offshore. Strange. But the dogfish gave us one extra thing to think about last season; all of our big dogfish catches happened around the moon, either full or new moon. During the other times of the month we would catch them but with not nearly the voraciousness displayed around the moons. You never know with fishing.

    [The picture on the left was taken in mid July. The digital image shows Lewis Hazelwood (MA) holding his 37 pound Maine state trophy white hake which he caught that day. This hake tied with a hake caught by Dave Gray on the same day for the fourth largest hake of the Bunny Clark fishing season. Lewis did very well. And it was the first year that he was in the running for the Fisherman of the Year award.]

  • Fred Kunz is one of the four best anglers to step aboard the Bunny Clark. Some would argue that Fred is the best. I know from experience that he has a penchant for catching big fish. On no trip was it more evident than the October 27, 2016 marathon trip. He had one of the biggest pollock of the day on his line that day when a porbeagle shark decided to take advantage of Fred's slow retrieve - big fish come in slow - and take off with the pollock in it's mouth. Problem? The shark was way too big to handle. Not to be outdone, Fred hooked into a huge bluefin tuna that, had he not broken the line, would have stripped his reel clean. So not only did Fred lose fishing time, he lost two good jigs, a chance at winning the boat pool with the pollock he might have landed and he lost the two biggest fish of the trip. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be that good!
  • Steve Brown falls off the end of the bench seat not once but twice in fifteen minutes. Both times it looked like he might have hurt himself. Both times; "I'm alright!".
  • Alexy (last name and state withheld) stepped aboard early in the morning three hours before daylight, went below and took a bunk. When we started fishing, Alexy was still below. At one point he asked someone for a bucket. He was still in the bunk when we were coming back to Perkins Cove while going under the bridge. However, after I put the Bunny Clark on the dock I went below to find not a trace of Alexy nor any of his belongings. In fact, I never saw him get off the boat! I never once saw his face. Nor would I ever recognize him if he came to me today and introduced himself!
  • Rod Wells (NY) loses a good sized halibut, a keeper, about four feet down with Captain Ian Keniston beside Rod waiting with the gaff! When gear fails, why can't it wait until you are well within striking distance? Four feet! Please!
  • Dennis Pine is sea sick all morning, looks like death warmed over but recovers in the afternoon. He goes on to have a hell of a good catch of fish including a 3 pound Maine state trophy whiting, the third largest whiting of the 2016 Bunny Clark fishing season.
  • No Greg Veprek, again! I know he's alive; he treated me to breakfast this winter.
  • Why is it that I don't always follow my own rules? I always tell the deck hands; "If someone calls for a gaff, assume that they have a fish big enough to gaff and bring a gaff with you when assisting them." That's just what I didn't do when I went to assist Larry Kabat (NH) with his big pollock. And, yes, the fish swam off - one of the few times big pollock do so when brought to the surface. And, yes, he probably lost the boat pool because of my thoughtlessness. But, he told me later; "Don't worry, Tim, I was only going to give you the pool money as a donation to the Pan-Mass Challenge." Great, that really made me feel better!
  • Larry Reed (ME) shows up in this category again, the second Guestletter in a row. This time he gets accolades for catching more dogfish than any angler on any trip on the Bunny Clark for the 2016 season. There is no one who did dogfish better last year. No one!
  • I rarely see Tom Staples (PA) aboard the boat anymore. In the past, I would see he and Mike Barrows (PA) several times a year. But times change. I was glad to see him before the September 23, 2016 extreme day trip. The dynamic duo were fishing together again! I see Mike more often than I see Tom. But Tom's time on the boat will not be remembered so much for the fish he caught. At one point during the trip he drove a hook so far up his finger it required some detailed surgery by Captain Jared Keniston to get the hook out! Typical Tom, he went right back to fishing as if nothing ever happened. I do hope he appreciates the shirt!
  • What are the chances that an angler who has never sailed with me, Larry Hamm (MI) happens to meet John Daley (J.D.), a former Bunny Clark captain where both individuals make the connection in a grocery store? Enough so that Larry mentioned the encounter to me! I haven't seen J.D. for years!
  • Melissa Kelly (ME), the owner/chef of Primo the famous Italian gourmet restaurant in Rockland, Maine where she specializes in making everything from the food she grows herself, fresh, showed up on the boat during a marathon fishing trip. She is a real big deal. And she knows and has worked with most of the famous chefs you see on TV including Ming Tsai, the fusion chef from the Food Network, and that slightly over weight guy, balding, ponytail and his signature orange Crocks that my wife loves to watch. Melissa wanted to try the dogfish which Captain Ian filleted for her on that trip. I asked her at the time if she would tell me how she liked it. Not a peep. I even emailed her. Not a peep. Was it that bad? It could be that I will never find out!
  • On the full day trip on July 26, 2016 I had a surprise guest aboard the Bunny Clark, a person I have regarded highly over the last few years and the former Mayor of New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was (and is) John K. Bullard, the Regional Adminsitrator of the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, National Marine Fisheries Service, Gloucester, Massachsetts. He is lead for the Federal government in New England and the person the New England Fishery Management Council needs in order to implement Federal fishery regulations in New England waters. He was aboard to see how I ran my operation as a means to get a feel for the party/charter deep sea fishing businesses in New England. He did ask a lot of questions, which made me respect him even more. But it went a little further when he actually caught me while filling out the Vessel Trip Report (that ends up in his office) on our catch for the day. He noticed that even though we kept a couple of dogfish, they didn't appear in the "kept fish" column. I was so used to putting the dogfish in the "discards" column that I didn't even think to change. And that's one reason you may not want to trust these Vessel Trip Reports for new regulations. There are other reasons - as we discussed. John 1, Tim 0? It was a pleasure to have him aboard.
  • Dan Genie (MA) fights a rock all the way to the surface, only to find out that it was a rock!
  • Bill Socha (NH) sea sick? That's a first.
  • Jack Henke (NY) releases thirty-nine market sized cod on June 20, 2016. If it were anyone else I would have questioned the count. I can't imagine that any other angler fishing aboard the Bunny Clark last year released as many "legal sized" cod.

    [The picture on the right is a shot of Mike "Sal" Salvatore holding the 21.5 pound wolffish which he caught on the offshore marathon trip of October 13, 2016. We weighed the fish, took a quick picture and released the fish back to the ocean alive.]

  • Has anyone seen Owen McIntire (ME)? I heard he was on the Bunny Clark a couple times last summer. It might be a rumor.
  • Fred Kunz caught more haddock using a jig than any other angler last season. That is not a rumor.
  • I captained the offshore marathon trip on May 26, 2016. Micah was my deck hand that day. On that trip we saw more porbeagle sharks than I have seen in one place for many years. In fact, there was only one other time where I saw so many at once. That was on the back side of Jeffrey's Ledge in late May of 1991. At times, on this trip last year, you could see five at once. We had the best opportunity in many years to hook and land one. Unfortunately, the groundfishing was so good we didn't have time to play around with them!

    In Memoriam:
    We lost three important individuals last year, two of natural causes and one in the line of duty. These people were important to me and to the fishing community. Only one was a customer of mine. All are big losses. This never used to be a part of my early Guestletters. But as I get older, the occurrences are becoming much too common, I'm sorry to say.

  • One of the vital members of the Dave Miller crew who always used to go out on the marathon trip charters, caught many big fish with me and won many boat pools was Ron Tarentino (MA). Ron was a police officer out of Auburn Police Department in Auburn, Massachusetts. He was slain by an idiot with a lengthy criminal record at a traffic stop. Ron was shot in the back, a cowardly act, on May 22, 2016. He knew he was dying at the time and asked for help that never came. It never could have come. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Dave's crew brought a police memorial flag to fly on the Bunny Clark in honor of Ron and in his place. Of course, having Ron on the boat as much as he was, flying the flag meant a lot to me. I attached the flag down from the top on the single side band radio antenna. There it flew all day and every day until I took it down in tatters after the last day of the season on November 2, 2016.

    Much has been in the news media about our police all over our country. It has been fashionable to show videos of "police brutality" without any evidence of their authenticity or the reasons behind the video. This has been painting an inappropriate picture of the people who protect us in this country. I am not so naive as to think that everyone is perfect. And human emotion certainly plays a part in everything everyone does despite how professional or objective you try to be. We are human after all. But these men and women in the blue uniforms throughout our country are the protectors of our country. They are our domestic army fighting to give the ordinary person a safe place in which to live. They have families, same as we do. They have lives, same as we do. But they also put their lives on the line every day to protect us. Ron was one of those people. He was a good person. He was a family man. He was a friend. I do so hope his family gets through this tragedy, healing the deep wounds that have been created by one selfish individual. And God help us if we can't respect those who give their lives to protect us.

  • On July 28, 2016 Wayne Perkins died of a massive heart attack. He had complained about his chest hurting during the day but he didn't think it was serious. He called one of his daughters in the evening to say that he didn't feel very good. She called an ambulance. But when they got there it was too late. Wayne lost his wife, Tish, to cancer a few years ago. He never remarried. Probably one of the nicest individuals you will ever meet, Wayne was the mayor of Perkins Cove. He and his father taught me how to lobster at eight and nine years old, taught me how to torch herring along the beach (along with my father) and helped me with problems whenever asked We served on the Cove Committe for many years together. In fact, we served until the day he died. He was just an all around wonderful individual. He was a good friend and a real local who was born here and grew up in Perkins Cove, the same as I did. I felt bad for a long time after his passing. He will really be missed around here, a guy who was Mr. Perkins Cove himself.

  • On the night of December 11, 2016, I learned of Rocky Gauron's passing. For most of my party boat life time, Rocky was the guy at Al Gauron Deep Sea Fishing in Hampton, New Hampshire. Born in October he was almost exactly a year older than I. I don't know how he died. I do know he had health issues, heart problems a few years ago. But he was always a great guy to me. And a character. He was also one of the highlights of the New England party boat world. His "News & Views" on his web site always made me laugh. He was very candid in those. I will miss Rocky. We didn't communicate much, particularly in the last few years. But when I wanted him, he was always there, always happy to talk. I will miss the man. And I will miss not being able to call him up.

    The Maine Department of Marine Resources has a recreational program headed by Bruce Joule from the West Boothbay Harbor lab. Every year he sends out researchers to ride on various fishing boats to collect recreational data. It's a fact finding mission, of course. But it's also meant to improve data collection so important to regulations affecting recreational anglers and businesses that rely on recreational anglers. The Bunny Clark has it's share of visits from Bruce's people. Cassie Nixon and Chris Uraneck are two of the few who we see on a regular basis. Both have been with us many times. They are the best - as are the others in Bruce's crew. We are hoping their good work leads the recreational fishery in the right direction. I am also hoping that the two Maine groundfish party boats in my area, one out of Wells and one out of Kennebunkport start allowing the DMR access on their boats and their fishing information. Without these boats, the DMR can't give us the whole picture. And, referencing my contemporaries again, I feel it's a bit selfish. Kind of like cutting your nose off to spite your face. After all, you can't complain if you don't participate. I must also add, as a person who holds a seat on the Recreational Advisory Panel (RAP) to the New England Fishery Management Council, the data coming out of Maine is much more accurate than the same data coming out of the other states in New England, despite the scope of involvement with all the participants, certainly a credit to Bruce's program. And I also have to thank Bruce for allowing me to come up to his lab last December to go over statistics that prepared me for the RAP meeting in January.

    [The digital image on the left shows Jack Rivers (ME) holding is 59 pound halibut which he caught on the June 5, 2016 extreme day trip. This fish was caught almost two weeks after the 66 pound halibut was caught by T. J. Jarvais. (Captain Ian Keniston digitial image)]

    As I mentioned earlier, Ian Keniston ran into a medical issue. It took us all completely by surprise. He worked on May 8, 2016 but couldn't return until May 25, 2016. I missed him very much. On his return, he was limited physically but not so limited that he couldn't complete his trips in the capacity of captain. By the fall he was working full time again, running the boat as captain and being the deck hand when I ran the boat on the marathon trips. He wasn't one hundred percent. But you would never know it. During his limited involvement, Captain Jared Keniston took over his captain's duties and he worked with me as deck hand on most of the marathon trips. At the same time, Micah, my son, filled in as deck hand for both Jared and I. At the end of May, Sean Devich stepped in and relieved Micah. Micah was working for one of my best friends tuna fishing for the summer. The timing was perfect. In all, it was a seamless operation where no customer would have seen the difference in quality of service. We had patrons who missed seeing both Captain's Ian and Jared working together. And there were those who sailed with us specifically to be around one of the guys who couldn't work on specific days. Both Ian Keniston and Jared Keniston went on to the winter projects as they normally do. Ian feels better now than he felt at this time last year or maybe the last two years. That's a huge relief to me. Without those two, there probably wouldn't be a Bunny Clark. They are the working heart and soul of our operation. I don't believe there has ever been better captains or deck hands on this coast. Of course, this is my opinion based on the way I like to have things accomplished. And, of course, I have bias. But the proof is in the catching. And those two catch a lot of fish. I also have to thank Micah for unselfishly giving his time to me to work on the Bunny Clark. Along with Sean they completed the total package for the season. Thank you all so very much.

    David Pease deserves a huge thank you as well. Dave was the person responsible for building the Bunny Clark to begin with. Yes, I did a lot of glass work in building the boat. But I was under Dave's instruction. And many was the time I came in the next day to fix something I did that didn't turn out as well as Dave wanted it. Dave, of course, did all the technical stuff. During the winter of 2014/2015, Dave was responsible for the new engine installation. It is the best engine installation I have ever seen in a work boat. Dave has worried about every detail that has ever been part of the physical aspects of the Bunny Clark. Whatever I dreamed of doing, he created it. This boat is highly personalized because of Dave. It's truly my boat. And he's become one of the most important men in my life. At 79 years young, he still has the happiness and drive associated with individuals who really love their work and know what the hell they are doing. Dave's the best. No one will ever convince me otherwise. I don't think anyone would ever try.

    Debbie, my wife and business partner with Bunny Clark, Corp. is the one person I could not do without. She does all the behind the scenes stuff, the organizing, paying the crew, working the books/computer and controlling the reservations and our reservationists. Deb has unselfishly worked to create and maintain something I love. It certainly wouldn't have been something she would have initiated herself. But she agreed to do it for me. And, best of all, she agreed to marry me and help me. She is very good to my crew and very good to me. Thanks, Deb. You make my life wonderful.

    Jane Staples number one reservationist ashore. She takes over when Deb can't, all year round. A Godsend, she rarely says no. She grew up in the same neighborhood that I did here in Ogunquit. So she knows all the local individuals I see every day. That makes for a great business relationship with the town and with our customers who might need information that others just can't give. If Deb and I leave for any period of time, she pays bills and runs the show here. Thank you, Jane, again, for all the wonderful work you do and the part you play in our business. Much appreciated.

    Halley, my daughter, used to work as a reservationist here and on the back of the truck during the summer months when she was studying at Fairfield University for her nursing degree. She is now a full time nurse at Englewood Hospital in New Jersey. I am very proud of her. When she is home, which isn't often enough, she will take the occasional reservation. And it's like she never left. I smile when I see it. How quick they grow up!

    Eighteen year old Nikki Smith (ME) and Charlotte Tragard (a very close family friend from Ogunquit) worked for us again last summer. Nikki is getting really good at taking reservations. I hope to see her back next season. Like Jane, I grew up in Ogunquit with Charlotte even before my wife knew her. Now she and Deb are very good friends. Charlotte is self employed and works for us on the side. She also stays in our home and watches the animals when we are gone. A good friend and ally. Thanks so much, Nikki and Charlotte.

    [The picture on the right is a shot Donna Moran (NY) holding her 5 pound haddock on the last trip of the Bunny Clark fishing season. It was a perfect weather day. This was the largest haddock of the trip that day. Donna also won the boat pool for the second largest fish with the second largest fish, a 15.5 pound pollock. She caught this pollock as part of a double keeper catch that also included a pollock that weighed 13 pounds. ]

    Last year marked my tenth season riding in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC), an 192 mile, two day, cycling event that takes place the first Saturday of every August. The purpose of the event is to raise money for cancer research and care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), Boston, Massachusetts. I ride in the event and am sponsored for doing so with donations from anyone I can convince to give me funding. All the money goes to the Jimmy Fund, the fund raising arm of the DFCI, founded in 1948. At the time of this writing I have moved $263,494.77 in donations to the Jimmy Fund since 2007. Last year, I raised $25,921.00 from 245 donations. This figure is up slightly from the 2015 year's total. I get a lot of support from my anglers. For this I am deeply grateful. I have already renewed my application for the 2017 PMC and have raised $4,900.00 at this time. I am looking forward to raising as much money as I can in a push to get to the new mark of $300,000.00, which I fully expect to do as long as I can stay alive! 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 the year before, 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 your donation goes directly to the DFCI and because the more money they receive the better their chances are of hiring the best researchers. I hope you can help me celebrate the joy I get from supporting a great cause at a wonderful place in the form of a future donation. Otherwise, let’s go fishing!

    We have finally come to the end of my thirty-fourth Guestletter. It takes me a long time to write this. But as much work as it is and as long as it takes me to write, I still feel that the benefits outweigh the work and the time spent. And it also gives me a yearly primer which I can use as a reference. It helps me build the next Guestletter both as a template and with the information it provides. I also look at it as a gift to those who have sailed with me all season and have done well or just those who are interested in what happens during a season. It gives me a chance to thank all those who make Bunny Clark Deep Sea Fishing the business it is today. It also allows me to acknowledge the successes that Bunny Clark anglers have had during a season. It allows me to talk about the new proposed regulations and how they might impact the upcoming season. It also allows me to compare fish sizes through the years. It's definitely a labor of love. And, of course, the key ingredients to this business are the patrons who make it work and the anglers who I write about. It's why I left commercial fishing for the world of party boat fishing. It's great to catch fish. But, to me, taking anglers to the fishing grounds, finding the fish and producing a catch are the things that really do it for me. So for all of you who I write about, those who sail with me who I haven't mentioned and all those who support me in ways I could never have imagined before I started this business, thank you so very much for all you do and for just being there. I deem it a great privilege to be able to take you deep sea fishing! I know my crew feel the same way. I appreciate your patronage very much. Winter well, as my father would have said. And I look forward to seeing you all this season!

    A Perfect Marathon Trip on the Bunny Clark in the Fall of 2016

    The digital image above was taken during the marathon trip of September 1, 2016. The trip was the Annual Larry Reed & Crew Fall Marathon Trip Charter. In the picture, above, the ocean is flat calm. It doesn't get any calmer than that. The woman in the orange oil gear is long time Bunny Clark angler, Karilyn Bonney (ME). Sitting to the left of Karilyn is long time Bunny Clark angler, Boo Whitten (ME). Boo was fighting a pollock that weighed 10.5 pounds while, at the same time, Karilyn was fighting a double keeper catch of two pollock that weighed 8 and 9 pounds. All three fish were hooked at the same time. Karilyn's double ended up being the largest double keeper catch of the trip. Boo's pollock ended up being the fourth largest fish of the trip.

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

    With this web site in general, I hope to keep you current on all of the fishing particulars on the Bunny Clark and include updated information on fishery management decisions that could potentially affect us. For a current report go to the Fishing Update section from the link located on the index page of this web site. Thanks!

    Back To Home Page, Deep Sea Fishing Maine