The 2021 Bunny Clark Guestletter

Annual Review of the 2020 Bunny Clark Fishing Season & the Plans & Outlook for the 2021 Season.

February 17, 2021

Dear Guests:

Welcome to my annual reveiw of our previous season. And what a season it was! No one could have anticipated at the end of the 2019 fishing season that 2020 would be such a challenge. We never realized that an outbreak in December 2019 of a virus in Wuhan City, China would turn out to be such a global pandemic. That it would negatively impact everyone's lives for months to come. I think back to January and how I flew to England with a friend, stayed at his house, watched two live Leicester City Premier League football games, rode 400 miles on road bikes for a week never even realizing that the UK would be one of the worst affected by the virus only two months later.


It was only a month later that Deb and I flew to St. Barthelemy Island (French West Indies) for our annual month long vacation. After the second week there, we heard rumors of restrictions being implemented. I heard the phrase, "social distancing" for the first time. Slowly but surely, we found the rumors to be true. We weren't required to wear masks at that point. But we were required to maintain a two meter distance between people. Soon demarkations were placed on floors in restaurants, in grocery stores, at the bakery and every other public place. Since St. Barth is a prefect of France and, at the time, France was being seriously impacted by CoVid-19, the same regulations were adopted. In other words, eventually, no person was allowed to go to a beach, be more than 100 meters from your place of domicile, the public stadium with the asphalt rubber track was closed and restaurants were resticted to open and closing times.

[The picture on the left is a shot of Joe Columbus (MA) holding the largest hake of the 2020 season caught by an angler in New England, Maine and on the Bunny Clark! This fish was boated in the morning during the annual Ultra Marathon Invitational offshore trip. At 50.5 pounds, this is the third largest white hake that has been caught on the Bunny Clark since the 1985!]


Shortly after those regulations were implemented we were required to have a certificate with us at all times plus an explanation as to why we were traveling in the car. There were only four ways you could travel by car: to get medical supplies, to see a doctor, to go to work or to go to the grocery store. When going to the grocery store, you were not allowed to have another person with you in the car. If so, and I saw this first hand, you were fined 150 Euros ($170.00 at that time) on the spot, paying the gendarme (the policeman) right then and there with a credit card passed out the window! No one was allowed to drive at night, near the end of our stay. Since all the restaurants had been closed, we were sneaking out of our place after dark to eat with friends and visa versa.


Just as we were thinking that this wasn't becoming much of a vacation, we found out that the airport was going to be closing on Sunday, over ten days before we were scheduled to leave the island. After that, no one was going to be allowed to leave the island or arrive on the island by any form of transportation. We found this out on a Thursday, March 19th! So we went to the airport and booked a flight for four of us on the last flight off the island. That was March 22, 2020. The island was locked down after that. The first flight off the island was June 26, 2020. I couldn't have imagined having to stay there for all that time while my businesses languished in Ogunquit, Maine. We were lucky to get out.


We had been home for a couple of days when Captain Ian Keniston had the elbow part of the cast on his left arm removed. He had fallen earlier in the winter and broke his elbow and wrist on the same arm. Just moving his elbow was extremely painful at first. At the same time, the Town of Ogunquit had closed the Marginal Way (a beautiful coastal walk of about a mile), the Ogunquit Beach and all the parking lots in town. The idea was to keep visitors away from town. At the same time, restaurants were prohibited from opening and the Bunny Clark was prohibited from taking passengers. The restaurants that were open were only allowed to do take-out. The next day, all the beaches, public walks and parking lots were closed from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Cape Porpoise, Maine. I didn't bother to see how every other coastal town was doing with restrictions. On April 1, 2020, all the hotels and motels in Wells, Maine were closed. On April 4, 2020, our governor, Janet Mills, closed all hotels and motels in Maine. Later, this hotel/motel restriction was extended until May 15, 2020! The Bunny Clark was prohibited to take passengers for the month of April and some of May. We decided to start our fishing trips on May 7th, canceling all our reserved trips that were supposed to sail earlier. Later, we found we couldn't leave the dock until May 15th, over a month later than planned and with only ten passengers, maximum.


On April 14, 2020, Captain Ian Keniston had the cast removed off his left wrist and forearm. Again, very sore to start moving said limb, he labored into getting it back to normal. On April 17, 2020, he fell on his right shoulder on the deck of the Bunny Clark carrying the radar. The fall dislocated his shoulder, tearing the labrum, an accident that would, later, require surgery to fix. He had just had the cast on his left arm removed when he fell, rendering his right arm useless at a time when he was trying to rehabilitate his left arm. Of course, he is right handed. We were already having problems finding deck hands. Now I wasn't going to be able to have Ian working with me on marathon trips! At this point it seemed like I was living a nightmare. We couldn't open Barnacle Billy's restaurants, the boat couldn't sail and my number one, Ian Keniston, might not be able to work.


On April 30, 2020, we were informed that we could only take eight anglers on the Bunny Clark, maximum. Later, this was increased to ten anglers/passengers. On May 1, 2020, we were informed that people arriving from out of state would have to quarantine for fourteen days upon arriving in Maine. This definitely put a damper on getting passengers for the Bunny Clark. It didn't matter as much initially because we couldn't take enough passengers to make it pay anyway. Later, when we could take more anglers, it certainly did matter. At the time all this was going on, I was also trying to get Barnacle Billy's ready to offer takeout. The opening day for that was on May 8, 2020. We replaced the engine's raw water pump on the Bunny Clark on May 4, 2020. U. S. Coast Guard inspection of the Bunny Clark came on May 11, 2020. Our first trip on the Bunny Clark took place on May 15, 2020. I was the captain along with our new deck hand, Kyle Redfearn and Captain Ian Keniston, there to guide Kyle on becoming a mate, a slinged right arm and a tender left arm. That was the last time we saw Kyle again. We never got a text, a call or a reply from him. On May 18, 2020, our bait freezer died after over 30 years of service. I was expecting the worst for a fishing season!


[The picture on the right is a shot of Keith Wells (NY) holding an 4.75 pound monkfish (goosefish) that he caught on an offshore marathon trip in June.]

By June 1, 2020, Governor Mills allowed us to have our full compliment of anglers for the rest of the season in this way (I'm paraphrasing here): party/charter boats were not allowed to have more than fifty passengers per vessel and social distancing would have to be observed. So, for example, by USCG rules, we are only allowed to take 30 passengers anyway so we were all set. But a whale watch boat out of Bar Harbor that had a capacity of 250 passengers, for instance, was only allowed to take 50 passengers. Therefore, our marathon trips and extreme day trips were not limited in passenger count; we could still take our maximum number. But on our full day and half day trips we cut back the angler count by five. This not because we couldn't take 30 passengers but mostly because of the social distancing part of the rule. Five anglers on the Bunny Clark makes a big difference. Twenty-five anglers seemed the perfect number and, because of all this, will remain into the foreseeable future. Deb and I just agreed this winter that the charter price for our full day will be based on twenty-five anglers. To expand on this even further, there were no known cases of Covid-19 linked to a trip on the Bunny Clark last season. Nor were anyone who worked on the boat infected. Captain Ian Keniston never wore a mask because of a breathing disorder and never got sick during the season. There is certainly something to be said about being in the open air.

If we had to pick pick a season to have a pandemic, this would have been the season I would have picked. Except for the start, the fishing weather for the 2020 season was about as good as it gets. There were no major storms. There was little or no rain. The months of July and August were unusually calm - making it a great advertising year for our afternoon trips. The air temperatures were warmer later and very comfortable for the season as a whole. The warmer air temperatures and less wind lasted right until the last day of the season with only a very few exceptions. The result was a medium we could work with during such trying times.

Fishing in General:

  • Our barndoor skate catch was down again last year. We caught four, including our second largest ever caught on the Bunny Clark. The first one that was ever caught on one of my boats was 2008. I never saw a single one caught on rod & reel between 1975 until that year. During the 2015 season we caught fifteen barndoor skates, the most we have ever seen in a season. The next most successful year was 2018 with a count of ten. Since 2008 we have had years where we caught none (2010) or as many as nine in 2016. The barndoor skate is the largest of New England's skate species, still listed as an endangered species (since 2003) by the IUCN, the international body that helps control fish stocks. I go into great lengths on the barndoor skate in the 2016 Guestletter.

  • Our cod catch was the most unremarkable of any previous season. We caught fewer cod last season than any year that I have ever been groundfishing. There were two trips where we never saw a single cod the whole trip, legal or sub-legal. That has never happened before. I also hosted a marathon trip where the first and only two cod of the day were caught on the very last stop before heading back home to Perkins Cove. Never have I heard of seeing so few cod in a season. Our fall open cod season was two weeks longer last season (Sept. 8 - Oct. 7) than the season before . Even so we landed far fewer cod than the two weeks that were open the year before. And, on average, they were smaller, overall, than any other season. Like the last few years, I saw no evidence of recruitment cod into our fishery. All the cod we caught were residents. There is only one fish I can remember that might have been a new cod but I suspect that it too was probably a local fish. The cod population certainly needs to be seriously addressed in the fishery managment arena.

    [The picture on the left is a shot of Tom Dobitsky (MA) holding his 17 pound wolffish just before releasing it back to the ocean alive. This was the fourth largest wolffish caught on the Bunny Clark last season.]

  • The 2020 haddock season could have been the best we have ever seen. We lost our best months in April and the first half of May. And, because of the late start, we missed catching the heavier spawning sized fish. For the last three seasons, the haddock have been everywhere. It used to be that we found the haddock to the south and followed them north. Or, I should say, that's what it seemed. Last season, we found them everywhere. But, again, had we started earlier we may have found the south/north thing. Overall, we had our third best season with thirty-five less fishing trips. These trips took less anglers. And we missed the best haddock fishing time of the season. My thoughts are that we would have had our best season ever had we been allowed to fish the full compliment of days, even without the extra anglers. The haddock fishing was excellent. Also, every year the fall has seen a tapering down of size. Not last year. Some of our biggest haddock were caught in the fall along with a very small percentage of sub-legal fish. If we had a hard time catching other species, we always had an easy time finding haddock.

  • The pollock fishing was not very good early in the season. It did pick up later but it picked up a couple of weeks later than I expected. The average size was down from the last couple of seasons. One of our anglers managed to land a trophy pollock of 25 pounds, the only trophy pollock of last year's fishing season. We didn't find the pollock offshore that we expected to find either. Normally, on the offshore grounds, we are running away from the pollock. Not last season. I don't recall even one time on the offshore grounds where that was all we could catch, like previous years. They are a very aggressive fish, normally. And because they range from the bottom to well higher than the other groundfish species, terminal gear is presented to pollock before it ever gets to the other groundfish further down. All in all anglers fishing from the Bunny Clark landed six pollock of 20 pounds or more, the least number of pollock over 20 pounds of any previous season. In the last ten years, the 2018 fishing season saw the most pollock of 20 pounds or over with forty-five total. There were more pollock than that landed in the 2009, 2008 and in 2005. But these years don't even compare to the number of big pollock caught in years before. Our best year for pollock of 30 pounds or more was 1986 where 997 anglers landed at least one pollock over 30 pounds. Al Robinson (ME), alone, that year, landed over a hundred pollock of 30 pounds or better.

  • Cusk landings were similar to what they were in the previous season. However, average size was down from almost every previous fishing season. And they were still a major species of target on our afternoon half day trips.

  • Hake landings were up significantly last season. Also, during times when they were a target species on the offshore trips, they seem to average a bigger size. Most of the hake we caught last season were not local hake. Instead, they looked mostly like newer fish. That, to me, was a very good sign. I was encouraged by our catch, particularly in the fall.

  • Our halibut landings gave us our fourth best year for halibut caught but it tied for our second best year ever for legal halibut with nine landed. Our best year for numbers, 2018, we saw a total of twenty-three halibut caught. Nine of those were legal. In 2018, the top five were the five largest halibut that have ever been landed on the Bunny Clark. Last year we caught fourteen halibut in total. Our legal halibut count would have been up if we had landed the halibut we lost beside the boat. There were two lost by Joe Columbus (MA) alone on the same day on the same anchor stop!

  • The monkfish catch was up from last season with many more small monks than we were used to seeing. This, I believe, is an encouraging sign. During the 2019 fishing season, almost every monkfish was caught with Ian Keniston as captain. last year, it seemed that the catch was more evenly spread out between Captain Ian and I.

    [The digital image on the right is a shot of Ray Westermann (MA) holding his largest pollock last season. The picture was taken on a choppy marathon trip in mid June. The pollock weighed 18.5 pounds, the Bunny Clark's nineth largest pollock of the season.]

  • Our whiting landings were down again from where we were in 2019. Previously, our whiting landings were increasing. We do not target whiting. Nor do we fish the type of bottom they are most usually found. They remain an incidental species. However, even on the bottom where we target the other species, we have seen an increase except for last season and the season before. I will be interested to see what we do this coming season.

  • Our wolffish catch was up but you wouldn't know that from looking at the numbers. Most of our wolffish are caught in the spring. In the "old days" most of the wolffish were caught in March alone, at the time of spawning. During the last few years, we have started in mid April. Last season, because of Covid restrictions, we didn't start our season until May 15th, a whole month later and a potential of a hundred wolffish shy of what we should catch during a season. With an extrapolation based on what I believe to be true, it could have been the best year for wolffish landings since the 2002 fishing season. And better than 2001, 2000 and 1998. I only started to count wolffish in 1996. The average size was our best for the last ten years, 2019 being close in that regard.

  • Redfish were about the same as the previous season with less trophy sized fish. During the 2018 fishing season we never saw a single trophy (2 pound) redfish. We missed the numbers of redfish we usually land during the 2020 fishing season because we missed the early part of the season due to Covid. Trophy sized redfish can be caught at any time of year. But we normally land our trophy redfish in the late summer and fall. We don't usually target redfish except in the spring before we can keep haddock.

  • Our mackerel year was much like the last two years, our best mackerel years. The difference was that we were down on numbers of mackerel overall. Like the last two years, we seemed to catch them on a regular basis but, this year, there was no time where we caught so many we had to move. We caught no big mackerel. Indeed, the average size was down. The first big showing of mackerel came during the 2015 fishing season. We caught less in 2016 but more during the 2017 season. 2018 and 2019 were big mackerel years.

  • With the mackerel came the porbeagle sharks, also called mackerel sharks. They have been very available as an incidental species for five years now, starting in 2015, along with the abundance of mackerel. We hooked quite a few porbeagles but never landed a one last season. Had we targetted them, we would have had a very good year. And, again, losing that first month of fishing left us without the opportunity of a time when they are most prevalent. They seem to diappear in the summer with the warmer water but come back again in the fall. However, our falls are never quite as good for catching porbeagles as it is in April and May.

  • The dogfish showed up later and were very similar to what we experienced with them the year before. In other words, they were very manageable. One thing that was a bit different was that we didn't find them as often in the shallow water, particularly in the later part of the year when they bother the most. I would go so far as to say they were less prevalent in the shallow water than almost any year I can remember. Since our haddock fishing seems best in the fall in the shallower water, this improved our catch of haddock in those places. And it gave us more areas to try for haddock and pollock. There might have been five times where dogfish made us move to different areas. But that is nothing compared to how they can be. To me, they are the most annoying species that we encounter. They tangle and damage lines more than any fish, they are unwanted as a species to eat and they can cause an angler harm if the dorsal spines connect with a person's skin. You can get bitten as well but that usually isn't as much of a threat as the spines are. In the last ten years or more they have not been as promenant. During the 80's & 90's, there were times when you could not get away from them. Obviously the dogfish population is down by quite a bit.

    [At 20 pounds, the fish on the left is our largest cusk of the 2020 Bunny Clark fishing season. The angler holding this trophy cusk in the picture is none other than the pride of Maine, Bill Harding. The second largest cusk last season was 5 pounds less than Bill's fish.]

  • It was not a big year for blue sharks. We did have a handful of trips where they drove us off a spot like the dogfish do. But last year was a tame year for blue sharks. It could have been the lightest year ever. We did have one day when twenty-four jigs were lost to them in the process of catching groundfish. The boat record for jigs lost to blue sharks is sixty-seven! That happened in the early '90s.

  • We had several bluefin tuna hookups last season. Most were too big to handle with cod rods. We had two or three that we might have landed with a little luck. The only person to land one was Charlie Harris (MA) on the August 19 extreme day trip weighing in at 51 pounds. He caught it on a cod jig while using a jig stick.

    Of the improvements that were made to the Bunny Clark during the winter of 2019/2020, most were minor repairs or cosmetic work, sanding and painting. Aside from the cosmetic stuff, we had to replace the flush mounted engine room deck hatch, remove the forward trunk house hatch, complete some fiberglass repair & re-bed before replacing. I had to replace the davit block. Skip Dunning from Power Products in Portland, Maine, changed out the raw water pump in early May. This is a normal occurrence with every engine I have ever had in a boat working out of Perkins Cove with similar engine hours. A raw water pump lasts for five years or so. I'm sure I could have had more service out of this pump. But I like to be proactive on items that I think could come back and haunt me if not addressed before the season. Having to cancel a trip to replace a pump that might not be easy to procure would cost much more than just getting the job done before the season starts.


    Writing of which, we broke down once last season, on June 18th, at the tail end of a marathon trip where we had been fishing just shy of 70 miles offshore. We lost the fresh water pump six miles from Perkins Cove. I was to meet Senator Susan Collins at Barnacle Billy's restaurant at 6:15 PM that day. She had asked if I could meet her at the restaurant that day/time so we could talk about how I could help her in an advertizement for her election campaign. Unfortunately, when the fresh water pump went, we were dead in the water. I would have been there in plenty of time had the engine not failed. By the time I was towed in, Senator Collins had already left to go home. My son, Micah, took our lobster boat, the Petrel, out to our location. The bearings had gone in the pump. Now, with every other engine I have known, when the bearings start to go in a fresh water pump, you can see a slight leak. You usually have days to replace it. With this pump, the impeller is in a casting that prevents you from telling if the pump is starting to leak. The casting is gasketted and water tight. What happens instead is that the bearings wear to the point where the impeller starts to wobble on the shaft enough so that the metal impeller starts chewing into the aluminum casting. It doesn't take long before there is a hole big enough to start emptying all the coolant into the bilge. Of course, without coolant, your engine overheats. And that's what happened here. The Bunny Clark was unable to move under her own power without, potentially, compromising the engine. It wasn't until June 24th that we could take another trip, losing five days of fishing trips after already starting our fishing season a month late due to Covid 19 government restrictions.

    After that, we had no more engine problems during the season. We lost trips, as we always do, to heavy weather. But we had no more engine malfunctions, except a small oil leak that my son fixed. After the season, I had the valves adjusted by Skip Dunning from Power Products. He also fixed another oil leak at that time. .

    As I write, the Bunny Clark is in "the barn" where we had a hull inspection (USCG) in January. A hull inspection is due every two years. Captain Ian Keniston and David Pease have both been working on the Bunny Clark since. The work order for this winter includes installing a new automatic fire suppression system in the engine room using FM-200 as an agent. The engine room has had a fixed Halon system since the start of the 1986 fishing season. Every winter we have all the fire extinguishing cylinders inspected. This includes the Halon bottle. This winter, in the process of taking the bottle out of the engine room, the Bakelite piece that connects the shut-down terminals to the top of the cylinder fell off. There is no way to repair that, I was told. Indeed, the system is old enough as it seems prudent to be completely renewed anyway. So I am in the process of putting the new system in place. The rest of the winter projects include all the cosmetic renewals, as is completed every winter. We have several repairs we have to complete. All these are minor in nature. I may also update a couple pieces of electronics. I will make that decision before the boat is launched.


    [The digital image on the right was taken during a late July afternoon half day trip. The subject is angler Lucy Sawyer (NH) holding her 2.25 pound haddock. The choice of a white summer dress wouldn't have been my choice if I were Lucy. And I had my doubts as to how clean that dress would be when she returned back to Perkins Cove. To my surprise, there wasn't a speck of blood on her when we got back to the float in Perkins Cove. This despite the fact that she caught two haddock and fish were also caught around her! ]

    Our web site at http://www.bunnyclark.com continues to be the location where you can get information about the Bunny Clark operation on a daily basis during the season and off-season. We have a schedule and rates section, a photo section, a world records section and more. Our fishing update section provides anglers with up to date information on the daily catch, fish sizes, daily weather, angler deeds and fishery management information. During the off season, I write about what we are working on, information about Barnacle Billy's restaurants and my life in general. This Guestletter resides on our web site along with some of my previous Guestletters. Although I canít 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 also have a service online where you can book a reservation for a fishing trip on the Bunny Clark without calling in. This online service is available on February 2nd of every year, after the first day we take our phone reservations. You can access the online service by clicking on the boat icon from my home page, my "Update Page" and various other pages on my site. Reservations for the 2021 Bunny Clark fishing season will start at 6:00 AM, February 1, 2020, phone reservations only, for that first day of bookings.


    We maintain a healthy Maine state trophy program in order to recognize larger than normal fish. Maine is very good in honoring those who catch great fish. We didn't have as good a year for big fish landings last season as we normally enjoy. This was directly related with respect to haddock because we started the season so much later. We also didn't see as many large pollock or as many large cod. We didn't catch as many whiting either. The hake were bigger last season which I thought was a good sign. There was one white hake landed, by Joe Columbus, that was close to world record size. All this being said, our total landings were about the same as all the landings of previous seasons after 2005 with only two season exceptions. Had I extrapolated the numbers and added the trips we could have taken, you would have discovered that we did very well indeed.


    At the time of this writing there are no regulation specifics available to inform you about for the 2021 fishing season with one exception. There will be an open season for cod from April 1, 2021 until April 15, 2021. The Recreational Advisory Panel (RAP), of which I hold a seat, is asking the New England Fishery Management Council (Council) for in increase in the haddock bag limit and a decrease in the minimum legal size. Even if the Council approves this proposal made by the RAP, it still has to be approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). We will have to wait until the fiscal fishing year starts on May 1, 2021 to know fully what the new regulations will be. In the meantime, you can expect to at least have the same regulations on haddock that were in place during last season. And those regulations include a haddock bag limit of fifteen per person with a minimum overall length of seventeen inches and a haddock season starting April 1, 2021 and ending before March 1, 2022. The cod season is suspect and may start on September 15th and run until the end of September with a one cod a person bag limit and a twenty-one inch minimum size. It may also be extended with an extra week on either end, as it was during the 2020 season. There is some question on cod limits within the NMFS. I will post the new regulations on the Fishing Update section of my web site when I know for sure.


    As far as the other species go, 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. Halibut landings are limited to one halibut per vessel per trip on the Federal level 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, 2021). It is illegal to keep barndoor skates, eel pouts and wolffish.


    As a suggestion, you might want to check out the previous Guestletters if you are interested in the history of the regulations within our fishery. I have not delved into my opinions of the regulatory process as much I have in other Guestletters in hopes that this will be a more interesting read. I tend to get bogged down in the minutiae of the subject.


    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 2020 fishing season. Keep in mind that all the represented weights of these fish were taken aboard the Bunny Clark using a registered scale shortly after capture (the same way it has been done since our first fishing trip on the Bunny Clark in May 1983). I feel that this is the fairest comparison between the anglerís fish since weight loss is proportional to the amount of time the fish is out of water. The weight loss differential varies between species. Getting a weight on a fish just after it comes over the rail makes the weight of every fish caught on the Bunny Clark directly comparable through all of the past fishing seasons.


    NAME (STATE)

    FISH - lbs.

    LENGTH X GIRTH (inches)

    DATE CAUGHT

    Dennis Pine (NC)

    Monkfish 16.25

    10-20-20

    Scott Leavitt (NH)

    Monkfish 15

    6-18-20

    Charlie Green (ME)

    Monkfish 14

    10-18-20

    Katie Foley (ME)

    Monkfish 13.5

    9-13-20

    Jim Walker (NJ)

    Monkfish 10

    9-13-20

    Travis Mustone (MA) can be seen on the right holding his 26 pound barndoor skate just before releasing it alive. This was the first barndoor skate of the fishing season last year. It was also our second largest barndoor skate of the season and the largest fish caught on the full day trip that day. At this writing, this barndoor skate is tied for the Bunny Clark's eleventh largest all time.

    Christian Huebner (VT)

    Barndoor Skate 33*

     

    9-1-20

    Travis Mustone (MA)

    Barndoor Skate 26*

     

    7-22-20

    Tim Rozan (ME)

    Barndoor Skate 23.5*

     

    8-21-20

    Chris Cote (ME)

    Barndoor Skate 13*

     

    8-27-20

    Jesse Arsenault (ME)

    Redfish 2.75

    17.5 X 14

    10-18-20

    Donna Moran (NY)

    Redfish 2.5

    16.5 X 12

    10-1-20

    Ny Nhath (VT)

    Redfish 2

    16.5 X 12

    9-3-20

    Dave Cannistraro (MA)

    Redfish 2

    10-1-20

    Dave Cannistraro (MA)

    Redfish 2

    17 X 13

    10-1-20

    Donna Moran (NYC), seen right, caught (and is holding) the second largest redfish of the Bunny Clark fishing season last year at 2.5 pounds. This fish was caught in early October on a perfect weather day during a marathon trip.

    Steve Selmer (NH)

    Wolffish 25***

    7-14-20

    Chris Galletta (NY)

    Wolffish 21.5***

    6-9-20

    Bryan Lewer (ME/FL)

    Wolffish 19***

    7-14-20

    Tom Dobitsky (MA)

    Wolffish 17***

    6-9-20

    Dick Lyle (NY)

    Wolffish 16.5***

    7-7-20

    Jack Connelly (MA)

    Pollock 25

    39.75 X 22

    10-10-20

    Kevin Everts (NY)

    Pollock 23.5

    10-4-20

    Jim Miller (MA)

    Pollock 22.5

    9-21-20

    Antonio Grasso (MA)

    Pollock 22

    9-11-20

    Jonathan Griffin (MA)

    Pollock 20.5

    6-11-20

    Anthony Palumbo (MA)

    Pollock 20.5

    10-25-20

    Joe Columbus (MA)

    White Hake 50.5

    46

    7-14-20

    Bryan Lewer (ME/FL)

    White Hake 48.5

    48.5

    7-14-20

    Dan Killay (VT)

    White Hake 47.5

    50

    7-14-20

    Dan Killay (VT)

    White Hake 41

    47

    7-14-20

    Steve LaPlante (CT)

    White Hake 40.5

    47

    7-14-20

    Harry Bajakian (NJ) and Andy Armitage (ME), two of my cycling friends who are way above me in athletic ability, decided to go fishing on the Bunny Clark when I was the captain in late July. Harry had a great time, caught a lot of fish (including the 5 or 6 pound pollock his is holding in the picture) and went home with a bag of fillets. Andy, on the other side of Harry in the teal t-shirt and tan shorts, didn't fair as well, spending most of his time pondering why he decided to submit himself to the torture of mal de mer!

    Bob Mayer (ME)

    Haddock 7.25

    27 X 14

    5-21-20

    Jeff Brown (MA)

    Haddock 7

    27 X 16.5

    5-17-20

    Dennis Kelly (ME)

    Haddock 6.75

    6-4-20

    Stefan James (VT)

    Haddock 6.75

    9-10-20

    Rick Schwartz (NH)

    Haddock 6.25

    6-9-20

    Joe Columbus (MA)

    Whiting 4

    24 X 11.5

    8-23-20

    Bob Kent (ME)

    Whiting 3.5

    23 X 11

    10-21-20

    Lianna Soreide (ME)

    Whiting 3

    22.5 X 10

    8-12-20

    Bill Harding (ME)

    Cusk 20

    35 X 19.75

    7-14-20

    Michael Roberts (NH)

    Cusk 15

    32.5 X 18

    9-8-20

    Steve Selmer (NH)

    Cusk 14

    34 X 22

    7-14-20

    Bryan Lewer (ME/FL)

    Cusk 12

    32 X 16

    7-14-20

    Mike Fornier (NH)

    Cusk 11.5

    9-6-20

    Peter Romano (NH)

    Cusk 11.5

    10-10-20

    Tim Rozan (ME)

    Cod 28***

    6-18-20

    Dan Killay (VT)

    Cod 23***

    7-14-20

    Shawn Rosenberger (PA)

    Cod 23***

    10-22-20

    Shawn Rosenberger (MD)

    Cod 22***

    10-4-20

    Tim Rozan (ME)

    Cod 22***

    10-22-20

    The picture on the right, taken by Captain Ian Keniston with his iPhone, shows Charlie Harris (MA) holding his 51 pound bluefin tuna, the only tuna that was landed off the Bunny Clark last season. We had quite a few tuna hookups last year but most were too big to handle with the equipment used. Charlie and his father, Dave, fish with us often duirng the year and are anglers we trust to land special fish.

    Troy Boyd (ME)

    Halibut 74

    55

    7-6-20

    Herb Huntington (ME)

    Halibut 68

    52

    6-30-20

    Mike Smith (VT)

    Halibut 66

    51.5

    7-10-20

    Kaleb Hibbard (NH)

    Halibut 63

    50

    7-21-20

    Bryan Lewer (ME/FL)

    Halibut 55

    49.5

    7-14-20

    Charlie Harris (MA)

    Bluefin Tuna 51

    43.5

    8-19-20

    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 fish.

    ** These fish 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 the 2020 season also prohibited the retention of cod except for a period starting September 8, 2020 until . the end of the day on October 7, 2020. All the wolffish were released back to the ocean alive. All our biggest cod were caught outside of the time when they could be legally retained.

  • Bryan Lewer accomplished something I haven't seen in a long time or maybe ever on the Bunny Clark. He had four fish in the top five last season. This is more than any other angler. But the thing that makes it so special is that he caught all these fish on one trip! In fact, it was the only trip that Bryan attended last season! Dan Killay was second with three trophy fish in the top five. Dave Cannistraro, Joe Columbus, Steve Selmer and Shawn Rosenberger all appeared twice in the top five last year, tying for third place.

    [The digital image on the left is a picture of Herb Huntington holding up his 68 pound halibut caught at the end of June 2020. He is showing the bottom of the halibut in the shot. This was the second largest halibut caught last season and is tied for the Bunny Clark's eleventh largest halibut of all time. This is also the first Maine halibut Herb has ever caught and the first time he has ever fished with us. I would say that it was quite an introduction to the Bunny Clark.]

  • Like the 2019 season, only two haddock in the top five were Maine state trophies. The minimum acceptance weight for a trophy haddock in Maine is 7 pounds. John Russell's 8 pound haddock, caught in 2019, was only a quarter of a pound smaller than our largest haddock in the 2018 season. Before that season, last time we saw a haddock that big was on July 7, 2015 when Bryan Lewer (FL/ME) caught one that weighed 8.25 pounds. The only other time we saw one as big or bigger was on April 29, 2013 when a 9 pounder and an 8.25 pounder were both caught on the same trip. Before 2013 we used to expect to see haddock of 10 pounds or more. I really believe that had we been able to sail earlier last season, we would have seen bigger haddock.

  • 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! Bryan Lewer's 45.5 pounder, caught in 2016, is the largest cod we have seen since Liam Kennedy caught his 47.5 pounder in May of 2011. The 2017 Bunny Clark fishing season was the first season since the 2012 fishing season that the top five cod were all over 20 pounds. There were thirteen cod over 20 pounds caught during the 2017 season. In comparison, there were ten cod caught that were 20 pounds or more during the 2012 Bunny Clark fishing season. In 2019 we saw eleven cod of 20 pounds or better. Last season there were only nine cod of 20 pounds or better. Clearly, fishery management is dropping the ball as it concerns helping the cod stocks. With this decreasing trend in the cod population, I'm not sure I would like to have a crystal ball right now. I can't see a viable solution unless the groundfishery were stopped altogether.

    The Bunny Clark's all time largest cod:

    Angler (State)

    Species - Weight

    Season Caught

    1. Marjory Kerr (VT)

    Cod - 83 lbs.

    1984

    1. Neil Downey (MA)

    Cod - 83 lbs.

    1992

    3. Dave LaRue (NH)

    Cod - 78 lbs.

    1989

    4. Bill Kellerman (NY)

    Cod - 77.5 lbs.

    1987

    5. Ken Ott (NY)

    Cod - 77 lbs.

    1984

    6. Robert Withee (MA)

    Cod - 76 lbs.

    1990

    7. Samuel Massey, Jr. (TN)

    Cod - 75 lbs.

    1989

    8. David LaPlante (VT)

    Cod - 74.5 lbs.

    1991

    9. Dennis "Satch" McMahon (ME)

    Cod - 72 lbs.

    1990

    10. Lloyd Chapman (ON)

    Cod - 71.5.

    1988

    11. Carl Ellsworth (NH)

    Cod - 71 lbs.

    1987

    12. Richard Plumhof (NY)

    Cod - 70 lbs.

    1988


  • Monkfish numbers have been increasing since 2017. Most of these monkfish have been small. Lewis Hazelwood's 22 pounder caught in 2019 was closer to what we like to see in size. And Dave Smith's (ME) 23.5 pound monkfish caught in 2018 was better still. The 24 pound monkfish that Kevin Gilpatric (ME) caught in 2017 was the largest monkfish that had been caught on the Bunny Clark since May 17, 2012 when Bob Foster (NY) caught a monkfish that weighed 34.5 pounds. The largest monkfish that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark was one that weighed 55 pounds, by Nancy Lee Regimbald (VT) on a full day trip on July 9, 1991. The official on-shore registered weight was 49 lbs 12 oz. It remained the IGFA's all tackle world record until it was beaten on April 12, 2008 by a monkfish caught off Gloucester, Massachusetts that officially weighed 51 lbs 4 oz.

  • As mentioned earlier in this Guestletter, our average pollock sizes have gone down, the smallest average size we have ever seen in a Bunny Clark season. Overall, we caught less pollock as well, the least of any previous season. We had less pollock of twenty pounds or better last year than any year previously on the Bunny Clark. Technology is to blame, somewhat, as fishermen can find them much easier than they used to. But pollock behavior and schooling patterns also give their position away more readily than other groundfish while using the new high powered CHIRP sounding machines. And since the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC or Council) made draggers fish with larger mesh sizes in their nets, fishermen are able to tow these nets much faster and are more able to catch the larger faster swimming fish now, where they weren't able to do so in the past.

    Last season there were only six pollock of 20 pounds or greater with only one of trophy size (pollock of 25 pounds or more) boated. The season before we had only seven with no trophy pollock at all. The Bunny Clark "slammer" (20 pounds or over) list included forty-seven in 2018 with four trophies and thirty fish in 2017 with three trophies. Twenty-five slammers were landed in 2016 with one trophy. Forty-six pollock of 20 pounds or better were caught in 2015 with three trophies. Only sixteen slammers were landed in 2014 with two trophy pollock recorded, both 27 pounds. Thirteen slammers were landed in 2013 with two trophy pollock caught, both just over 25 pounds. Fifteen 20 pounders plus were caught in 2012 with one trophy, a 26 pounder caught by my son, Micah, forty-three in 2011 with one trophy and forty-one with one trophy in 2010. So under the present fishery management plan, the pollock population has not really been allowed to expand. And I can't believe that, in my lifetime, we will see a year where 996 anglers receive trophy awards for pollock over 30 pounds as it was during the 1986 Bunny Clark fishing season. In those years, I only recorded the pollock over 30 pounds. In 1986 only one trophy award was awarded per species per year by the state regardless of how many you caught and, that year, Al Robinson (ME) landed over 100 pollock over 30 pounds himself! And he wasn't the only angler to catch many pollock over 30 pounds that year, our best big pollock year ever. Eight world record pollock were caught from the Bunny Clark in 1990, most being line class world records. The largest pollock we have ever seen was a 51.25 pound pollock caught by Linda Paul (ME) in 1990. Weighed officially seven hours later, it was just under 47 pounds and remained the all tackle pollock world record until it was defeated eight years later!

  • We had a slow whiting year last year. But, in our defense, we do not target them. Below is the Bunny Clark's "whiting table" for our biggest since 1983.

    Angler (State)

    Species - Weight

    Season Caught

    1. Jayde Meader (ME)

    Whiting - 5.5 lbs.

    2018

    2. Erik Callahan (RI)

    Whiting - 5 lbs.

    1995

    2. Jason Collier (VT)

    Whiting - 5 lbs.

    2015

    2. Rick Schwartz (NH)

    Whiting - 5 lbs.

    2018

    5. Jeff Gallatly (ME)

    Whiting - 4.5 lbs.

    2015

    5. Dave Walden (CT)

    Whiting - 4.5 lbs.

    2018

    7. Dave Bingell (CT)

    Whiting - 4.25 lbs.

    2018

    7. Chad Johnston (ME)

    Whiting - 4.25 lbs.

    2018

    9. Jonathan Griffin (MA)

    Whiting - 4.1 lbs.

    2016

    10. Nick Gatz (ME)

    Whiting - 4 lbs.

    2000

    10. Justin Hopkins (RI)

    Whiting - 4 lbs.

    2013

    10. Chris Porter (MA)

    Whiting - 4 lbs.

    2014

    10. Joe Columbus (MA)

    Whiting - 4 lbs.

    2020


    [Brent Hibbard can be seen holding his 12 year old son, Kaleb's, 63 pound Maine state trophy halibut in the digital image on the right. This fish was the Bunny Clark's fourth largest halibut of the season last year. Kaleb hooked the fish and Kaleb and Brent reeled it in taking turns. In the digital image Kaleb is standing to the right of Brent while Brent's eight year old son, Landon, is standing to the left. They were on a day (eight hour) trip and all three fished together. ]

  • Our hake last season were better for average size than both the 2019 and 2018 seasons [although nowhere near the sizes of hake we caught in the early 1980s]. We also landed more trophy sized hake than each of the last three seasons. Last season, Joe Columbus' 50.5 pound hake was the third largest hake we have seen since 1985. In 2019, Steve LaPlante (CT) landed a 54 pound white hake. During the 2018 Bunny Clark fishing season Steve Selmer also landed a 54 pound white hake. Steve's became an IGFA all tackle world record with an official on shore weight over twenty-four hours later of 48 pounds 4 ounces. I have listed the largest hake we have ever landed on the Bunny Clark in a table below. We landed forty-seven white hake over 50 pounds in 1984, none of them ever attaining world record status because every one of them was involved in a tangle, disqualifying them from IGFA recognition. This was why Bob Jorgensen's fish never became a world record, as it should have become. I am hopeful that the 2021 fishing season might find us with even bigger white hake.

    Angler (State)

    Species - Weight

    Season Caught

    1. Robert Jorgensen (ME)

    White Hake - 63 lbs.

    1983

    2. Marie Gronczniak (NY)

    White Hake - 58.5 lbs.

    1983

    3. John Pomainville (VT)

    White Hake - 58 lbs.

    1984

    3. Kevin Macia (VT)

    White Hake - 58 lbs.

    1984

    5. Duke Dam (VT)

    White Hake - 57.5 lbs.

    1984

    6. Howard Blackmore (VT)

    White Hake - 56.5 lbs.

    1985

    7. Armand Durand (QC)

    White Hake - 56 lbs.

    1983

    7. Diane Bleil (UT)

    White Hake - 56 lbs.

    1984

    7. David Chenevert (MA)

    White Hake - 56 lbs.

    1984

    10. Linda Tabor (NY)

    White Hake - 55.5 lbs.

    1984

    11. Bill Dyer (NY)

    White Hake - 55.25 lbs.

    1984

    12. John Woodtke, Jr. (MA)

    White Hake - 55 lbs.

    1983

    12. Judd Cohen (MA)

    White Hake - 55 lbs.

    1983

    12. Jack LaManna (NY)

    White Hake - 55 lbs.

    1984

    12. Tom Giorgio (NY)

    White Hake - 55 lbs.

    1985


  • We landed no porbeagle sharks during the 2020 Bunny Clark fishing season. We hooked quite a few of them. But every one we hooked either broke off or dropped the hook.

    In Bunny Clark history, Dick Slocum's 304 pound porbeagle shark, 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". The second largest porbeagle shark was landed on May 25, 2017. Caught by Phil Brown, this shark weighed 282 pounds. The third largest porbeagle ever caught on the Bunny Clark was Andrew Claehsen's 233.75 pound shark caught on May 10, 2016. The fourth largest porbeagle shark caught aboard the Bunny Clark weighed 217.5 pounds, caught by Jon Tesnakis (NY) on October 21, 2005. The fifth largest porbeagle shark ever caught on the Bunny Clark was Dave Miller's 200 pounder caught on June 7, 2018. Any time you can boat a porbeagle shark greater than 150 pounds with a cod rod, it's a feat.

  • Regulations kept the Bunny Clark at the dock during the best part of the season to catch redfish last year. As a result we didn't land as many redfish. Nor did we boat many trophy sized redfish. So it wasn't nearly as good a redfish season as it was in 2019. However, it was a better season than 2018 when we caught a lot of redfish but didn't land one of trophy size ( 2 pounds or better). That was a first. We had never previously gone a whole season without catching a trophy redfish. We don't usually target redfish specifically except for the early spring when you can't keep haddock (before April 15) or cod and the pollock aren't available. Going forward with recreational regulations, we may be able to keep haddock on the first day we start every season if the haddock population remains as vibrant as it has been the last few years. Redfish are a wonderful eating fish with a fillet that has a delicate texture and a sweet flavor when cooked. Steve LaPlante's 3.5 pound redfish, caught during the 2019 fishing season, is the largest redfish we have seen caught on the Bunny Clark since Tom Ruggles (FL) landed a 4 pounder on August 4, 2015. That 4 pound redfish is the largest redfish I have weighed that we have caught. I'm sure we caught bigger redfish in the mid '80s but I never weighed them in those days. My loss!

    [The shot on the left is a digital image taken by Captain Ian Keniston of Joe Columbus holding his 4 pound Maine state trophy whiting, a tie for the Bunny Clark's tenth largest whiting all time and our largest whiting of the season last year. It was a hell of a year for Joe last season. If he had only landed one of those two halibut he lost last year! ]

  • Charlie Harris' bluefin tuna is the only tuna we have landed in the last three seasons. We landed one during the 2017 Bunny Clark fishing season. Before that we hadn't landed one since Jim Phelon (NH) caught one that weighed 176.5 pounds on June 8, 2010. 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 from 2004 through 2010. We even had a trip during those years when three bluefins were brought to gaff all at the same time!

  • Last season Christian Huebner caught the largest barndoor skate of the year. It tied for the second largest barndoor skate caught on the Bunny Clark, all time. There have been fifty-six barndoor skates caught on the Bunny Clark since we caught our first one during the 2008 fishing season. Included in the count is a fairly large one that Arthur Blaisted (ME) lost beside the boat on anchor in a strong tidal current on August 22, 2019. Our largest ever was the one caught by Sheri Fister (ME) on August 18, 2018 at 37 pounds. However, five of the top ten barndoor skates ever caught on the Bunny Clark, including Sheri's, were caught during that same season! During the 2019 Bunny Clark fishing season, Steve Selmer became the first angler in Bunny Clark history to catch two barndoor skates on the same trip. Both those fish were caught in the same spot while on anchor. One was a male and the other was a female. Steve holds the record on the Bunny Clark for the most barndoor skates caught by a single angler with a count of five! That's almost ten percent of all the barndoor skates that have ever been caught on the Bunny Clark. The largest barndoor skates in Bunny Clark history can be viewed in the table below.

    Angler (State)

    Species - Weight

    Season Caught

    1. Sheri Fister (ME)

    Barndoor Skate 37 lbs.

    2018

    2. Wayne Statham (QC)

    Barndoor Skate 33 lbs.

    2015

    3. Christian Huebner (VT)

    Barndoor Skate 33 lbs.

    2020

    4. Josh Cabral (RI)

    Barndoor Skate 31 lbs.

    2015

    5. Bill Weller (NY)

    Barndoor Skate 28 lbs.

    2018

    6. Steve Selmer (NH)

    Barndoor Skate 27 lbs.

    2017

    6. Steve Balevre (NH)

    Barndoor Skate 27 lbs.

    2018

    6. Anthony Arria (MA)

    Barndoor Skate 27 lbs.

    2018

    6. Chris Tankred (OH)

    Barndoor Skate 27 lbs.

    2018

    10. Rodney Lensing (IA)

    Barndoor Skate 26.5 lbs.

    2016


  • Of the fourteen halibut that were caught on the Bunny Clark last season, only one made it into the top ten all time list. As you can see, the top five biggest of all time were caught during the 2018 fishing season. Last year, Troy Boyd's 74 pounder landed him squarely at number ten all time. In so doing, he dropped Tim Rozan out of number ten. However, Tim still has two of his halibut in the top eleven. Tim has now caught six halibut on the Bunny Clark in the last four seasons, including a 7 pound sub-legal halibut he caught with Captain Ian Keniston at the end of August last season.

    Last year, we lost four halibut of note, three of which were estimated at 50 pounds or better. The smallest of the four was one that weighed about 26 pounds, of sub-legal size, caught by Frank Kelly (ME). It wasn't going to be gaffed because it was too small and was lost trying to "lip it" into the boat by Captain Ian Keniston. Another one of the four was a fish of about 50 pounds or more that was brought to the side of the boat by Kevin Harding (ME). One of 66 pounds had already been boated by Mike Smith! So, no matter how big the second one was, it was not going to be kept because of the regulations. Again, Captain Ian Keniston tried to get it into the boat without the gaff, to no avail. The other two halibut, one that looked to be 60 pounds or better, were both lost by Joe Columbus on the same trip and the same anchor stop! I believe we lost a couple more but never got a visual on either of them to know for sure.

    [ Shawn Rosenberger, shown right, is holding the eighth largest haddock, at 5.75 pounds, that was caught on the Bunny Clark last season. It was the last big haddock of the season last year. ]

    Below is a list of the top twelve halibut caught on the Bunny Clark and the seasons when they were caught.

    Angler (State)

    Species - Weight

    Season Caught

    1. Joe Balas (OH)

    Halibut - 103.5 lbs.

    2018

    2. Steve LaPlante (CT)

    Halibut - 102 lbs.

    2018

    3. Bryan Johansmeyer (ME)

    Halibut - 100.5 lbs.

    2018

    4. John Baker (ME)

    Halibut - 98 lbs.

    2018

    5. Jay Rowe (NH)

    Halibut - 95 lbs.

    2018

    6. Tim Rozan (ME)

    Halibut - 89 lbs.

    2019

    7. Lewis Hazelwood (MA)

    Halibut - 86 lbs.

    2017

    8. Ron Worley (PA)

    Halibut - 83.5 lbs.

    2007

    9. Ed Robichaud (ME)

    Halibut - 79 lbs.

    2019

    10. Troy Boyd (ME)

    Halibut - 74 lbs.

    2020

    11. Tim Rozan (ME)

    Halibut - 68 lbs.

    2017

    11. Herb Huntington (ME)

    Halibut - 68 lbs.

    2020


  • Steve Selmer caught the largest wolffish of the season last year. It was a thin very large framed wolffish that would have been heavier had it been filled out more. That fish was the largest wolffish the Bunny Clark had seen since John Gardner (NY) caught his 28.5 pound wolffish almost exactly ten years earlier on September 26, 2010. During the first ten years of the Bunny Clark, it was not uncommon to see a wolffish over 20 pounds. In those days I was always hoping for one over 30. In fact, we lost one near 50 pounds right next to the boat only a mile away from where Steve caught his big wolffish last year. That 50 pounder was hooked by Fred Kunz in the early '90s. Fred's fish was hooked lightly in the dorsal fin. It dropped off the jig too far away from the boat for me to gaff it while anchored in a strong tide. At the time, I was wondering how I was going to get it aboard without it biting and seriously hurting someone.

    [The shot on the left is a digital image of Shawn Rosenberger holding his 23 pound cod, a tie for the Bunny Clark's second largest cod of the season last year. It was a hell of a last ten days of the season for Shawn.]

  • It wasn't a very good year for big cusk last year. Bill Harding's 20 pound cusk was far and away the largest cusk of the season, a Maine state trophy by 8 pounds. Nor did we lose any huge cusk, to my knowledge. Last season was the first season since the 2014 season that not all five of our biggest cusk were of trophy size. The Bunny Clark's first world record cusk was a 29 pounder caught by Ross French (NY) in 1987 that broke the existing world record of 24 pounds 9 ounces caught by a guy off the coast of Norway in 1983. Ross' cusk's registered weight was 26.66 pounds. It was beaten only seven days later by a cusk caught off Massachusetts that officially weighed 28 pounds 15 ounces! We captured the world record again in 1988 when Neil Morrill (VT) caught a 31 pounder. We were drifting off a deep peak on the way back from fishing Tantas west of the Portland Lightship. It was the last fish in the boat. So I steamed home, got the fish weighed immediately and came up with the official registered weight of 30 pounds 1 ounce, the new official IGFA all tackle world record. Eight days later, it was beaten again, by a cusk caught off the coast of Norway that officially weighed 32 pounds 13 ounces! It wasn't until October 11, 2002 that we had the chance to beat it again with a 36 pound cusk caught by Kenton Geer (NH/HI). At the time, the all tackle world record was just over 34 pounds. Kenton's fish was disqualified because he caught it with a jig with a cod fly above the jig and a tube hook on the jig itself. It came under the title of "gang hooking", a no no as it concerns the IGFA. Today's existing all tackle world record cusk was caught in July of 2008, again, off the coast of Norway. The present world record weight is 37 pounds 14 ounces, a hell of a cusk. The table below shows the top ten cusk caught on the Bunny Clark over the years:

    Angler (State)

    Species - Weight

    Season Caught

    1. Kenton Geer (NH)

    Cusk 36 lbs.

    2002

    2. John Madden, Jr. (MA)

    Cusk 32 lbs.

    2002

    3. John Spinardo (NY)

    Cusk 32 lbs.

    2018

    4. Neil Morrill (VT)

    Cusk 31 lbs.

    1988

    5. Tim Williams (CT)

    Cusk 31 lbs.

    2002

    6. Alan Coviello (NH)

    Cusk 30.6 lbs.

    1989

    7. Ray Johnson (NH)

    Cusk 30.5 lbs.

    2004

    8. Sean Grogan (NY)

    Cusk 30.25 lbs.

    2002

    9. Annette Curry (NY)

    Cusk 30 lbs.

    2017

    10. Ross French (NY)

    Cusk 29 lbs.

    1987

    10. Donald F. X. Angerman (MA)

    Cusk 29 lbs.

    1991

    10. Dan Kelley (ME)

    Cusk 29 lbs..

    2008

    10. Adam Towle (NH)

    Cusk 29 lbs..

    2019


    [ Shawn Rosenberger (NY), the king of doubles last season, is shown right holding an 7 pound pollock in his right hand and an 8 pound cod in his left, a typical double for him. He caught two of the top five biggest doubles of the Bunny Clark season last year. ]

    Incidently, Dan Kelley's 29 pound cusk at 43 inches caliper fork length is tied for the longest cusk that has ever been caught on the Bunny Clark. Kenton Geer's (HI) 36 pounder also had a caliper fork length of 43 inches. In fact, Kenton's cusk spit out six big herring on the surface before the fish was boated. Had that not happened, that cusk would have been over 37 pounds. Adam's cusk, caught in 2019, in comparison, was 42 inches caliper fork length.

    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 2020 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:

    Fisherman of the Year (FY-í20): Shawn Rosenberger wins this award for the third time, in exactly ten trips during the end of the 2020 fishing season. This makes the third time he has won this award. The other two seasons included the 2012 Bunny Clark fishing season and the 2013 Bunny Clark fishing season. Shawn is always one of the top anglers aboard when he fishes with us. He has an uncanny knack for patience, particularly when he is involved in bait fishing. Maybe the word to better describe it is focus. Also, his ability to catch doubles (two fish on the same line at the same time), his penchant for being high hook, winning boat pools and catching trophy fish just slid him ahead of Joe Columbus, who was nipping at his heels in second place.

    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 point or 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. [The last two years I have considered waiving this 10 trip rule and just work on the most points in a season for any angler but I haven't done that yet.] When a competitor is within thirty points of the lead angler, I bring in comparative value point (CVPs). In other words, I look at the trips where both fished together. I double the points of the achievements that each has won on those trips and add them in. Joe Columbus was the closest to Shawn in points. No one else was near enough to be involved. Shawn and Joe only fished together twice. Neither was particularly successful over the other. When I compared the these two trips, the extra points ended up widening Shawn's lead ever so slightly over Joe, cementing my decision. I have had many excellent anglers who fish with us on a regular basis every season, any one of whom has the potential to become the Fisherman of the Year. Shawn was the man last season.

    Shawn Rosenberger excelled in three different areas to take the FY-'20. He landed the most trophy fish of any angler, he was high hook more often than any angler and he landed two of the five biggest doubles of the year. In the other categories he was very competitive as compared to the eight other anglers who qualified to compete against him.

    [In the digital image, left, Shawn Rosenberger can be seen holding the head of what could have been a trophy white hake had a shark not eaten the lower half of the fish. Shawn was the best hake fisherman on the Bunny Clark last season. Hake essentially take bait quicker than a jig. Shawn is an excellent bait fisherman. Sharks are most active at dawn, like the hake, haddock and pollock.]

    Like most of the anglers who have ever won this award, Shawn is an excellent angler. I don't believe I would be overstating things if I mentioned his patience again. He doesn't let anything rattle him. He is very comfortable in all kinds of weather. And he truly enjoys every minute. He also seems more aware as compared to most anglers. This may be because he runs his own charter business on the Great Lakes. However, I have taken many charter captains out fishing with me that have never come close to Shawn's abilities. He also knows all the right questions to ask when he's getting ready for a fishing trip. Regardless, I could list a dozen other items of interest that might make him the fisherman that he is. But the bottom line is that he earned every point he received. Congratulations, Shawn! Well deserved.


    Shawn's total point count was 111. Joe Columbus came in second place with a point total of 103. Tim Rozan was third with 80 points. Dan Killay was fourth with 74 points. Troy Boyd was fifth with 60 points. Incidentally, Bryan Lewer, who only took one trip with me last season garnered 71 points on the trip he attended. That's pretty amazing when you think about it.


    Female Angler of the Year: We didn't have enough female angler participation to fill this category. The different season that it was, the shortened season and the fear that bringing anglers closer together in these uncertain Covid times had much to do with this. The only two women who were standouts this year were Marie Harding (ME) and Donna Moran. They both fished only two trips last season. And they both landed two trophy fish each. Marie's best was a 47 pound halibut, a tie for the sixth largest halibut of the season last year while Donna's was the 2.5 pound Maine state trophy redfish, the second largest of the season. Neither angler went far enough into the season to qualify but there were no other female anglers last year who were as successful.


    Best Bait Fisherman: There was a new sheriff in town last season and his name was Troy Boyd. He fished with bait exclusively and gave the jig fishermen a run for their money. He won the boat pool for the largest fish of the trip more than any angler. When he didn't win the boat pool he had the second largest fish three times and the third largest fish three times. He was high hook on a regular basis, or close to it. And one of the fish he caught on bait was the largest fish of the year, a 74 pound halibut, the Bunny Clark's tenth largest halibut of all time! It was also the largest halibut that has ever been landed on the Bunny Clark with a bait hook. And, as I mentioned above, he placed fifth in the FY-'20 competition. There were many fine bait fishermen last year but none as successful as Troy. Nice going, Troy. You took me by surprise with all your fishing achievements last season. After all the trouble we had dealing with last season, you were certainly a high point in mine. And I appreciated every high point I got!


    Most Aces: For those who donít know, an angler scores an Ace when he or she lands the three (or more) largest fish during a single trip. There can be no ties in fish size with other anglers in order to achieve true ďAceĒ status. There 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. The 2017 season saw five Aces caught, three of which were "Double Aces" (the four largest fish caught on a trip). In 2018 there were two. There were three During the 2019 fishing season. There was only one ace caught last season. It was caught by Joe Columbus. He really caught the ace by default. I'll tell you what I mean. Joe had the three largest fish of the trip, including two cod of 6 pounds each and a 5 pound cusk. Daniel Chartrand (TX) caught a cod that day that Captain Ian Keniston estimated at being 8 pounds. Daniel wanted a picture holding his cod while it looked fresh, knowing it was going to have to be released. So before Ian weighed the fish, he took a picture with Daniel holding it. As soon as Daniel knew the photography session was over, he tossed the fish over the side alive! Had it been weighed he would have won the boat pool money for the largest fish of the trip, he would have taken home the largest fish of the trip sticker and he would have spoiled Joe's ace! Since it wasn't weighed officially, we can't honestly say that the cod was larger than any of Joe's fish. Daniel did receive the hard luck award t-shirt! An ace is worth 10 points toward the Fisherman of the Year award. That happened at the end of August. And I thought to myself at the time; "Joe is headed for FY-'20; I can feel that it's his destiny." This was before I knew that Shawn Rosenberger was going to be fishing with us in the fall. Athough, even had I known, I still would have bet that Joe would come out on top!

    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: Shawn Rosenberger caught the most with a count of twelve, three more than the angler with the most trophies in 2019. Bryan Lewer (on one trip), Jonathan "Griff" Griffin and Steve Selmer tied for the second most trophy fish with a count of eight each. Dan Killay and Joe Columbus tied for fifth with a count of seven trophy fish each.


    [ Chris Cote (ME), shown right, is holding one of the four barndoor skates that were caught on the Bunny Clark last season. As you can see, Chris caught it with a jig, as are most that are caught. I took a quick picture before it was released alive. ]

    Top Five Largest Fish of the Bunny Clark Season: Troy Boyd caught the largest with his 74 pound halibut. Herb Huntingon came in second with his 68 pound halibut. Mike Smith was third with his 66 pound halibut. Twelve year old Kaleb Hibbard was fourth with his 63 pound halibut. Bryan Lewer was fifth with her 55 pound halibut.


    Most Trophy Fish during a Trip: Bryan Lewer caught the most trophy fish on a single trip during the Ultra with a total count of eight. Steve Selmer came in second with a count of seven trophy fish. Dave Miller (MA), Dan Nye (MA) and Jim Jarvis (MA) tied for third place with six trophy fish each.


    Most Pools (largest fish of the trip): As mentioned above, Troy Boyd caught the largest fish on four different trips during the 2020 Bunny Clark fishing season. Leo Lamoureux (VT) came in second place by catching the largest fish of three separate trips. Shawn Rosenberger, Jonathan Griffin, Joe Columbus, Jay O'Connor (ME), Dan Nye and Charlie Harris all tied for third place with two boat pools each.


    High Hook: Shawn Rosenberger was high hook (the most legal fish on a trip) on seven different trips, the most for an angler during the 2020 Bunny Clark fishing season. Dan Killay came in second, attaining high hook status on five different trips last season. Joe Columbus and Dick Lyle tied for third place with a count of four. Tim Rozan and Jonathan Griffin tied for fifth place, taking high hook on three different trips.


    Largest Double: (The most combined weight of two fish caught on the same line at the same time.) For the first time in four seasons, any one of the five largest doubles of the year was not caught on the Ultra Marathon Invitational. They were all caught later in the year. The largest was caught in mid October by Nick Vegeto (NY). His double included a 31 pound Maine state trophy white hake and a 19 pound white hake, a combined total that was 7 pounds greater than second place. Second place went to Anthony Palumbo (MA) with a hake double that was caught five day's later than Nick's! Anthony's double included a 22 pound white hake and a 21 pound hake, both fish caught on the same treble hook at the end of his jig! This is highly unusual. Shawn Rosenberger came in third with a double that included a 23.5 pound white hake and a 19 pound white hake, caught on the same trip where Anthony caught his slightly larger double. Fourth place went to Jim Jarvis (MA) from an offshore trip taken on September 3, 2020. His double included a 22 pound white hake and a 15.5 pound white hake. Shawn Rosenberger landed the fifth largest double on the same trip that he landed the third largest double and the same trip that Anthony landed his crazy double. This fifth double, of Shawn's, included an 18.5 pound white hake and a 17 pound white hake. We must have been very lucky to find hake that were either biting that well or were in a area where there were many more hake than I expected. It's also one of the only times where a single species dominated with every double in the top five during a season.


    [Nick Vegeto, shown left, is holding the largest double of the year caught on the Bunny Clark last season. Coached by Shawn Rosenberger, Nick held out until he hooked the second fish, never realizing that he would have two white hake of such a large size! The largest was 31 pounds, a Maine state trophy. The other one was 19 pounds. It was a very exciting offshore trip, for sure!]

    Hardest Luck: For an angler like Joe Columbus, and I mean this in a very good way, June 11, 2020 had to have been the hardest of any time that he has been fishing on a boat in the ocean. Joe is one of our best anglers. On this day, it was a bit choppy for the ride to the fishing grounds. It was a marathon trip, so it was dark as well when we left the dock to start the trip. Joe took a bunk down below. He got sick. I have never seen him sick. Ever! Half way to the fishing grounds, I went over a queer one. He came about two feet off the bunk but he didn't land exactly on the cushion. Instead, he landed on the edge of the moulding, bruising two ribs. He was in sad shape when we rounded up on the first spot. It was too rough to drift. We had to anchor. Joe fished. But he was very uncomfortable. Every movement of the waves continued to bother his equilibrium and his ribs. This wasn't the worst of it. He hadn't been fishing very long when he hooked into a fair sized halibut. After making a few runs to bottom he got it up close enough to see that it was a fairly big halibut, one of our best. It took one other run and broke the leader. Joe wasn't doing anything wrong. His drag was set perfectly - as it always is. What must have happened was that when the fish turned and went back to bottom with the jig in it's mouth, the fly above the jig hooked it's tail. The flexing of the body must have snapped the line between the jig and the fly. I have seen this happen many times with sharks and tuna, visually. But I have never actually visualized this with a big groundfish, like a halibut. Joe was disappointed. But what was worse, he did it again on another halibut about a half hour later! I didn't see the fish this time but from the signature on the sounding machine and the way that it fought, I have no doubt as to what it was. So now he was down two jigs and two flies as well! Joe had an unremarkable day for the rest of the trip. But he did fish all day. To add insult to injury, literally, he hurled on his arm as he was trying to get some sleep on the way back in! A day for Joe not to remember!


    When the Sunday extreme day trip on June 14th came back after a successful trip end, Leo Lamoureux, who was an angling participant that day, left the boat to get his vehicle so he could load the fishing equipment and pick up his fillets. During that process, deck hand, Tyler Carpenter, started passing out fillet bags to customers. The process starts by lining up the bags on the bench aboard the boat by sequential number and then calling those numbers as the anglers wait their turn to grab their fish and go. When Leo's number was called, someone else grabbed the bag of fish, which also contained fillets from eleven haddock, and walked away up the ramp and left. A little later, Leo came back asking for his fillets. They were nowhere to be found. Tyler had been so busy filleting fish all day he didn't associate the numbers with the anglers. When we all realized what had happened, Tyler sprinted up the ramp, down the street and to the parking lot. The angler with Leo's fillets was nowhere to be found. Now whether this was a malicious act or whether the angler really thought that Leo's number was his number, we will never know. All I knew was that Leo was out his fish and was going to have to drive all the way back to Vermont without proof that he went fishing. What was worse was that it was Leo's first trip of the year. What was better was that he had won the boat pool for the largest fish that day. There wasn't anything I could do about losing his haddock fillets. But I did give him a free ticket for an extreme day trip in the future, which he used within the next week!


    Probably the most qualified individual to receive the hard luck award on the Bunny Clark this summer was Blake Monroe. During an extreme day trip, hosted by Captain Ian Keniston with deck hand, Tyler Carpenter, Blake became very sea sick. That is usually reason enough on most trips. He had been hurling over the side of the Bunny Clark, with his prescription glasses in his pocket, when he felt the sudden urge to launch again. In the process of his actions, the glasses slipped out of his pocket, overboard, and disappeared into the ocean, never to be seen again. To add insult to injury, Blake also lost a jig that he had to pay $10.00 for!

    Mike Schetter (NY) lost the most jigs of the season last year on a marathon trip near the end of September. Six of his jigs were lost to blue sharks while another was lost to a sunfish! And, yes, he did win the "hardest luck of the trip" award. There was no one else close. As bad as that was, when I think of Mike Schetter, I think of high hook status, having to spend all my time in the starboard corner of the stern taking fish from the "big guy" and fisherman of the day status! So when Mike has a bad day, it's big news!

    [The image on the right is a shot of Moriah Mahala (ME) holding up her 4.75 pound haddock caught on the next to last trip on the Bunny Clark last season. This was the largest haddock caught that day.]

    Most Improved Angler: Troy Boyd comes to mind when I think of this award. After his first trip this season, he did so well that I thought to myself; "Who is this guy?" Then I got to experience his fishing prowess first hand when I was the deck hand on one of Ian's extreme day trips. No one caught as many fish as Troy did that day. And I filleted every one! So I know. I'm not sure if he ever fished with us until last season. But if he ever did fish with us before he sure did a good job of hiding himself. I suspect that last year was his first trip. If so, he's one of those rare talents that just makes you love being a captain!


    Best Team: The team of Ray Westermann & Jonathan "Griff" Griffin as well as Tim Rozan & Lewis Hazelwood. Both sets of friends feed off each other and make each other better. Quite frankly, together, they are a fishing machine. Last year we didn't see them pair up as much. This was a combination of work, the Covid crisis, the shortened fishing season and the adjustments that had to be made for the new environment we were living in. However, even in diminished capacity, they are the best and were the best, without a doubt.

    Exceptional Good Luck: Ty Kashmiry (ME) comes to mind when I think of good luck last season. He tends to pick the best days to go fishing with me. So he is always, or has always been, successful. This year, on one trip, he wasn't successful in just the fishing. He lost two jigs and got both jigs back. He caught his own jig back on one occasion. On the other occasion, an angler on the other side of the boat hooked Ty's jig in the eye of the swivel with the treble hook of the jig he was using. I've seen anglers hook lines to get lost fishing gear attached to the end of the line. But two individual jigs, the same jig both times? If I don't ever hear from Ty again, I'll know it's because he probably has his own boat after playing the lottery that night and winning millions of dollars!


    Quotes of the 2020 Season: "You will never guess what happened!", this from Duane King (MA) at the dock, after finishing a Sunday day trip at the end of July. I was expecting that he was going to tell me that he hooked some big fish, that he found a $100.00 bill or that he had just bought the house next to mine in Ogunquit. No, none of the things I expected came true. In fact, he told me that he got sea sick! Duane has fished on my boat for nearly forty years and has never been sea sick. When he started fishing with me, years ago, ninety percent of the fish we caught were cod. Duane himself always caught big cod with me. It was ironic that this day's trip was also the first time in Bunny Clark history that not a single cod was seen, either legal or sub-legal. Maybe that was why Duane was sick. It wasn't an equilibrium problem at all! He just missed seeing the cod. Too much! The one constant in fishing is certainly change, that's for sure!


    I never got a good quote from this experience on the Bunny Clark. But I bet some of you could guess what was said. During a full day trip in the middle of July last season, Steve Neal landed the hard luck award for getting a drubbing from his wife in the fish catching department. Steve did all the baiting and taking the fish off the hook while his wife expounded on the virtues of her superior fishing capabilities to him. I heard that this went on all day long, to the great delight of the crew and most aboard. Steve stood up to it like the good husband that he is. I say good luck to us all!


    [The angler in the picture on the left is thirteen year old Karis Huebner (VT) holding her double caught on the first day of September while attending an offshore trip on a perfect weather day. The fish she is holding are both pollock. One weighed 6.5 pounds while the other weighed 10 pounds. She was a very good angler. A future patron? I hope so!]

    Most Unusual Catch:


    During the September 9 Tom Bruyere & the St. Lawrence River Rats charter, Chris Sovie was thought to have hooked an ocean sunfish. The fish jumped seven or so times and was quite exciting to watch, I was told. In fact, Chris got the sunfish wrapped in his fishing line. The fish was never actually hooked. The sunfish finally gave up and allowed itself to be towed to the boat where someone hooked the jig, cut it off and pulled the line off the sunfish to release it. We have hooked and tangled a few sunfish over the years. The result has always been that the line breaks or the hook drops out of the fish. But we have never successfully brought one to gaff. Until that trip. And, no, a gaff wasn't used in releasing this fish.


    Larry Reed (ME) was remarkable last year not in what he caught, as you might imagine by putting him in this section. No, he was remarkable in what he didn't catch. Dogfish! Larry Reed has a penchant for catching dogfish on the Bunny Clark. In fact, he has a history of catching the most dogfish of the trip on many, if not all, of the trips he makes with me in the fall. Larry organizes a charter every year in September or October and has been doing so for many years. His trips have seen huge cod, tuna, rough trips, calm trips and any other experience you might think of. But Larry has never been known to shy away from catching dogfish. That was until last year's trip. His charters are always one of my favorite trips of the year. But last year's trip was just a little bit better!

    Unexplained Phenomena:

  • This was the second year since 1977 that I didn't have the honor of fishing with Dave Gray (VT) on the Bunny Clark. I know I mentioned this is last years Guestletter. But I thought it was worth repeating. I did talk to him a couple of times last year. And I talked to him while I was involved writing this year's Guestletter. That happened a couple days ago. He still sounds the same and does his morning exercises every day. He is going to try to get out with me this coming season. I certainly hope that he does!

  • I don't know if I was the oldest deck hand to work on a party boat in New England last season. What I do know is that I am the oldest deck hand that has ever worked the Bunny Clark. It wasn't easy. Of course, most of you know that I demand a lot out of my deck hands. Ian Keniston was the captain on both trips. When Jared Keniston, Ian's brother and former B.C. deck hand/captain, heard about it, his comment to Ian was; "I hope you buried him [in fish]!" I wouldn't have expected anything less from Jared. I certainly worked Jared hard enough over the years. Staying all day at the fillet table was hard work but I'm in pretty good shape. A couple things I took out of the experience: 1. Ian told me that I could be his deck hand any day. Thanks for that, Ian! 2. My son, Micah, also a deck hand for me many times, said I didn't clean the boat well enough! Ouch! That hurt the most! And I have to give a nod to Fred Kunz (NH) who helped me out greatly the second time that I was the deck hand.

  • We could have landed a porbeagle shark had Ny Nhath (VT) been just a little more on the ball. The fish was big and right next to the boat but it was a little too green. So it wasn't really his fault.

    [I had to put a picture of Steve Selmer's huge wolffish, the largest wolffish we have seen since September 2010. The thing about Steve's cat was that it was so thin. Had it been caught during full spawn, in March, I'll bet it would have been 5 pounds heavier, minimum. It was, dimensionally, I very large wolffish. I like Steve; he catches big fish! ]

  • Averaging one halibut every day for six days in a row in July? That is indeed strange! A good strange but strange just the same.

  • Three interesting things happened on the July 3rd extreme day trip. First, Anthony Palumbo, our number one deck hand during the 2018 and 2019 seasons, lost a halibut. He got the fish a long way up from bottom before it made it's first run back. After that first run, the fish spit the hook. Second, Captain Ally Fuehrer, one of our top deck hands in the last couple of years, claimed that she wasn't sea sick after hurling over the rail in good fashion. Third, Tyler Carpenter, our top deck hand last season, sprinted out of the forecastle after attempting to clean a "mistake" in the head and hurled over the side. When Ian attempted some verbal advice, Tyler made it clear that he didn't need any by flipping him the bird! I wish I had been there!

  • Former angler, Greg Veprek. I hear he still goes fishing every once and a while but I don't have confirmation on that.

  • Twelve year old Kaleb Hibbard lands his first halibut, a 63 pounder, thanks to Captain Ally putting a brand new hook and leader on his line before he started fishing that day.

  • Jonathan Griffin broke his rod while trying to set the hook on a white hake. I'm just glad he didn't try to set the hook after I tapped on the back of his pole, fooling him into thinking that he had a biting fish. I never would have had to worry; of all the anglers I take, there is no fooling Griff.

  • It seemed like a good idea when two of my cycling buddies, Harry Bajakian and Andy Armitage, decided to go fishing with me. After all, for all the things they have done for me, particularly Andy, I thought it might be nice to show them my side of the world. Harry had a great time and would have won the boat pool for the biggest fish had a blue shark not spoiled the party by biting his pollock in half and taking most of it. If Andy hadn't been so sick, he might have had the opportunity to enjoy the fishing!

  • Kyle Santor (VT) charters the Bunny Clark for a fishing trip and catches the least amount of fish in front of his friends? Very unlike Kyle! Could it have had anything to do with the large number of dogfish and the strong moon current?

  • Kevin Poulin got a hook deep in his thumb during an afternoon half day trip. I believe his was the worst hook injury of the season. They can be much worse.

  • Chris Cote caught a 10 pound pollock and a 9.5 pound pollock on a trip with his brother at the end of August. He might have dropped a bigger pollock on the surface. I never got there in time to see how big this fish really was. But Chris was certainly excited about it and threw the gaff at it. Maybe he was thinking that the pollock would swim back with the gaff in it's mouth. The outcome, of course, was the loss of the gaff and the fish!

  • This was the year that Dick Lyle realized how powerful a thresher shark is.

  • My daughter, Halley's, husband's brother Joe Bianco, from the "New Jersey Seven", was high hook for the most legal fish, beating brother, Nick, and father, Elliott, in the process. Joe had never been to Ogunquit before. Since Elliott broke his back in a car accident years ago, he had a bit of an excuse; he confessed that it bothered him a little during the trip. Of course Nick had no excuse. My daughter tells me he's better in other areas. I didn't ask.

  • Neil "Magpie" Chamberlain (NH) quiet for a whole marathon trip in October? Not a chance. As sick as he was that day, and he was the high hurler, he still managed to talk all day long. Actually, the only respite we got during the day was when he was engaged in the act of hurling!

    [Tim Rozan caught this 28 pound cod early in June. It remained the largest cod all through the rest of the Bunny Clark season. Tim was our Fisherman of the Year for the 2019 Bunny Clark fishing season.]

  • I was so surprised when Ron Krause (MA) walked on board for a marathon trip in early September. He had been sick with health problems last year, badly sick. His future looked bleak. With ten of my friends passing this year and not hearing from Ron, I assumed the worst. So to see him show up for the trip and be so physically active was a joy. And he did well. He hooked three big fish and lost every one of them. One was a smallish bluefin tuna that I chased around with the boat. We got the fish to leader but broke it off before we could get it within gaffing range. Ron was a bit disappointed. But not so disappointed that he didn't appreciate a good fishing day! And fishermen of Ron's caliber know that you can't always land everything you hook.

  • Our two most improved anglers over the years and certainly a joy to have aboard, Barry Ano (NY) and Marty Buskey (NY), never made the boat this season because of the Covid-19 crisis. They were sorely missed!

  • I'm pretty sure Dan Nye (MA) only sailed with us on two trips last season. On the first trip in May, he caught his first halibut, a 47 pounder and won the boat pool. He had an excellent day besides, catching a lot of haddock. On his second trip in September, he won the boat pool again with a 29.5 pound Maine state trophy white hake, caught five other trophy hake, was high hook with the most legal fish overall and caught the largest haddock of the day at 4.5 pounds. It was a good year to be Dan Nye, even if it was only two trips!

  • Anthony Palumbo fillets fish on his own bachelor party? Some habits die hard!

  • Did I mention that Joe Columbus lost two halibut at the same spot on the same day?

  • And, no, we did not see David & Tim MacDonald (MA).

    I want to take some time here to thank the crew, both those who physically run the Bunny Clark and those who are shore based. We were deck hand challenged last season on the Bunny Clark. We had one full time deck hand who worked between his graduation from high school and his freshman year in college. His name is Tyler Carpenter. Those who filled in the gaps were Sean Devich, Micah Tower, Ally Fuehrer, Anthony Palumbo, Mark Blaisdell, Andy Kidd, Phillip Walton, Jared Keniston (one trip), Kyle Redfearn (one trip) and yours truly (for two trips). Our principle captain was Ian Keniston. I was the captain when Ian wasn't there.

    Captain Ian Keniston:
    Ian had a very challenging year last season. Referencing the first few paragraphs of this missive, after the end of the 2019 fishing season and into 2020, Ian broke his left wrist, his left elbow and, later, his right shoulder. He couldn't fillet fish or clean the boat. So I lost Ian as the deck hand on every marathon trip where I am the captain - a huge loss. And he couldn't help the new deck hands. He could have quit or taken time to get shoulder surgery. He didn't. Instead, he determined (from his surgeon) the longest time period he could wait before surgery and then worked until that time came. Ian has always given 110% whenever he works. But to work last season, he had to give 150%. I don't know if I could find anyone to give 100% on a regular basis, never mind the extra that Ian gives.. He had to find a new way to haul the anchor, help with the fishermen on the bow (the captain's responsibility), learn a new way to hold and weigh fish and put up with all the pain and frustration that goes along with this condition. The most important thing was that he never had to sacrifice the quality of a trip because of his shoulder. There were times when the deck hand had to help. There were many times that he really didn't feel like going, particularly when the weather was suspect. And there were times when his shoulder hurt so badly after a trip that he wondered if he was going to make it back for the next day's trip. But, he went anyway; every day he was scheduled. Ian remains the rock solid part of Bunny Clark Deep Sea Fishing and the signature individual of the operation. There is so much more that he does that makes it all work. I could say that he's my right hand man. But I truly believe that it's more the other way around. I never dreamed that I would be doing such a good service to the business by hiring Captain Ian Keniston. I am relegated to saying: "Thank you very much, Ian!" because there are no words that I could ever come up with to truly express the gratitude I have towards this individual.. And by individual, I mean one of a kind. There will be no replacing Ian Keniston.

    Sean Devich:
    Sean lived over two hours away from Perkins Cove. However, when I was desperate he told me he would drive down here and work. Sean isn't just an excellent deck hand. He's one of the best fishermen/rod builders/boat handlers/former captains I have ever met. He's soft spoken and one of the nicest individuals you will ever find. And he cares. About everything. It's a very rare quality. And he respects me and the operation. Priceless. Sean mostly worked on the marathon trips with me. But he also worked with Ian. I would have been lost without Sean at the beginning and the end of the season. He had to leave us before his time was due in October because of his mother getting ill. Since she lives in North Carolina, there was no part time thing about it. I very much appreciated his situation and, more, the fact that he gave up what he was doing previously to work for me when he could. Again, it's hard to just say "thank you" to Sean. He means and has meant so much more than that to me.

    [The digital image on the right was taken by Captain Ian Keniston. The picture shows Troy Boyd on the left and deck hand, Tyler Carpenter, holding the largest fish that was caught on the Bunny Clark last season. This 74 pound halibut is the tenth largest halibut that has ever been landed on the Bunny Clark. It was caught on the day before one of our two biggest offshore trips, the SOFT. Certainly a worthy target for this much bigger trip. I would like to know how many times a bigger fish has been caught the day before the signature trip of the season, meant to target the biggest fish of the season! Actually, I don't care the trip as long as these fish are landed. It's a hell of a treat to see fish that big. It was certainly a treat for the angler who caught it, Troy Boyd! And, I might add, well deserved! ]

    Captain Micah Tower:
    My son, Micah, is a son I couldn't possibly have hoped to have. I couldn't have possibly conceived that I would be as lucky, before he was born. And I couldn't have imagined that he would grow as he has. I love having him on the boat. Being brought up in the business, he knows everything. But he does more. And he did more. As if it were his own business. He helped at the beginning and at various times during the season. He never took things for granted. An excellent deck hand, boat handler, fisherman and captain, I couldn't possibly have asked for more. And to be my son on top of that? Unbelieveable. Thank you so so so much, Micah. The best words can't be found.

    Anthony Palumbo:
    Anthony told me that he would never let me down and would always be available as a deck hand if he could get away. He made a different career choice away from fishing. So I never expected he would help me as a deck hand as much as he did. He started fishing with me as a regular deck hand in 2017 under Captain Ian Keniston and Captain Jared Keniston, who both doubled as deck hands that year. It took Anthony no time at all to be excellent on the deck. He was my number one deck hand for the 2018 and 2019 fishing seasons, mostly working with Ian. And like Jared Kenistion before him, he made a great team with Captain Ian. I didn't expect him to be able to help last season. But, when we needed him the most in the spring, he gave up much of his time to be on the Bunny Clark. He did much more for me than I ever expected him to. He had a full time job, he had a distance to drive to get here and he was going to be married at the end of the last year. He had a lot on his plate. His excellence is to be admired, his work ethic more so and as a person, pure quality. I loved having him there and so appreciated the help. Thanks so much! Words... again.

    Captain Allyson Fuehrer:
    Like the last two seasons before last, Ally, worked for us like it was her main job as a deck hand. Being the second mate on a 600' tanker is hard enough but when you consider that her time off was spent working for me on the Bunny Clark last summer, it seemed too good to be true. And she never held it against me that my captain's license was so much smaller than hers! So respectful, brought up in a family where her grandfather was the commercial highliner of southern Maine and where fishing with her father and grandfather was a passion, she more than did it for us. Excellent at everything she does with a great personality, work ethic and super skills around any boat, I felt so lucky to have her with me on the Bunny Clark. I also got so many complements from our customers. Words? They don't make them or the phrases to go with them. Thank you so much, Ally. Such a great treat for me.

    Tyler Carpenter:
    In the summer of 2018 & 2019, Tyler worked at Barnacle Billy's, Etc., mostly as a host bringing patrons to their table. I knew Tyler. I worked with him at the restaurant but never would have thought that he might want to work on the Bunny Clark had it not been for Chad Schools, our top manager at Etc. I spent a couple days with Tyler showing him everything I could on the boat, going over emergency procedures and enlightening him on the way our system works. He was the quickest study I have ever had on the Bunny Clark. After a week he was ready to be on his own. Now, mind you, he had never been on boats before. The first day I took him out alone on the Bunny Clark to see what he could do, he steered a compass course better than most I have ever seen and equally as good as my brother, Court, the best I have ever seen. The rest is history. It probably took him a month to get comfortable enough to fillet fish at a good pace and be jovial with anglers as well. Tyler is left handed while every other deck hand I've had was right handed. So it was hard for my son, Micah, to teach him exactly how to fillet fish except in principle. However it happened, Tyler got really good at it. At the risk of repeating myself, I have never had someone do as well in such short order. He also really enjoyed himself and the anglers around him. Thank you so much, Tyler. I will really be looking forward to having you on the boat next season!

    [Anthony Palumbo shown in the digital image, left, chose the Bunny Clark for his bachelor party. This digital image was taken during that trip. He's holding the second largest double of the season, a 22 pound white hake and a 21 pound white hake, both fish caught on the same treble hook! This might have happened one other time on my boat! Maybe!]

    Captain Jared Keniston and Mark Blaisdell both have jobs. Jared worked for me as captain and deck hand for twelve years. Mark worked as a deck hand for me for almost three. Both helped me out a couple of times last season. Mark is a teacher by trade and Jared became an expert at all things deck hand/captain while he worked for me. Needless to say, both had the high qualities I needed for working the deck, filleting fish and working with the anglers. The only problem with them was that I didn't have them on the Bunny Clark enough last season. Thank you both so much for your time.

    When Kyle Redfearn applied for the job of deck hand, we worked with him for quite a while until the first trip. I even had him aboard when the Bunny Clark was being inspected with the USCG inspector going over some of the emergency procedures with him. After that first trip, he never came back again. The job wasn't too much for him. But I think that he thought that it was. I really think he would have been good. Thanks for trying, Kyle.

    Andy Kidd and Phillip Walton finished up the year with us. Ian had gone to surgery at the beginning of October so it was just Andy, Phil and I. Andy was first, moving from Sitka, Alaska to take the job. Phil came after. Both were honest hard working guys and certainly men of their word. Neither gave up. Neither let me down. But, at the same time there was nothing that they had ever accomplished in their lives that could have prepared them for being a deck hand on the Bunny Clark. So it took them longer to learn. Just as Phil was getting ahold of the position, I had to let him go because we didn't have enough work in October with the Covid crisis going on. The day in the week we could have used Phil, he was unavailable due to school. Andy continued on until the end. I liked working with both of them. Thank you so much for your help.

    David Pease: Dave is the behind the scenes guy. If it were not for him, the Bunny Clark would be a different boat. He built it and works on it every winter. He's the nicest genius I have ever met. Everything I ever wanted, every desire I have ever had and every impossiblity, he has made possible. I have learned a lot from him over the years. And I feel so lucky and appreciative to have run across him when I did. Thank you sooo much, Dave. Words, again, can't express....

    Behind it all is my wife, Debbie. The Bunny Clark was my thing. I started going out with Deb midway through the first boat I chartered, the Mary E. I also fished with the boat commercially; lobstering, tuna fishing and tub trawling (groundfish long lining). I did everything in those days except the reservations, which were taken by the crew at Barnacle Billy's restaurant. I had started the business before I met Deb and did everything myself. I captained the boat, cleaned the boat, filleted all the fish, did the books, all the advertising, etc. etc. After a couple of years, Deb did the reservations. When the Bunny Clark was launched in 1983, the reservations became more serious and very much more involved. Deb did all that. I was still doing the books at the time. Deb eventually took over the books. Probably two years after that, Deb did all the behind the scenes stuff. I started to get serious about keeping fishing records when I got my new IBM XT computer in 1984 for $10,000.00. Included in that was a dot matrix printer. The new regulations added more and more paperwork. After 1986 the random drug testing program went into effect. By the late '80s we were really busy. We had reservationists, tickets, brochures, ads in magazines, more serious book keeping. Deb did all that. It was really a two person job with help. Her work behind the scenes allowed me to bring two kids into the world, start my website in 1995, get involved in data bases and spread sheets, get involved in the fishery management scene, work with the Town of Ogunquit with the Budget Committee and Cove Committee and, eventually, working at Barnacle Billy's restaurant. When I started hiring captains in 1996, she helped there too. She never complained. So when you thank me for a great trip, or fun times on the boat with Ian, or something that I wrote that you liked or thankful for what I helped bring about in fishery regulations, you want to think of my wife, Debbie. She made me free enough to do what I do. I couldn't do it without her. But, most importantly, I wouldn't do it as well, have as much fun doing it or even be able to pay attention enough to get the finer points sorted out. She is the best part of the Bunny Clark. If it were not for Deb, there would be no Bunny Clark. Thank you for being the wonderful person who you are and for all the help have given me, the ideas that became reality and keeping me on the right path, Deb! Truly, the best part of me.

    [ The digital image on the right is a screen shot I took from a video taken on the ride home from Anthony Palumbo's bachelor party fishing trip. The guy cutting fish at the fillet table is my son, Micah. The guy in the brown, sitting and bagging fillets is Sam Robichaud. Sam and Micah played on the same hockey team in Dover, New Hampshire when they were growing up. Sam was the goalie. Micah was a defenseman. They were friends before and have been friends ever since. The Bunny Clark has been a platform for both in fun and learning experiences. I can say that both are experts on the ocean. Just looking at the picture makes my heart swell. I'm proud of Micah. And I'm proud of Sam. I am proud of what they have become. And part of what they have become is being hard working and honest. The shot itself shows the boxes of fillets and the way they become that way. This digital image has a great deal of meaning to me. ]

    A special shout out goes to Jane Staples. Jane has been with us for years now. When Deb was sick, had something to do with the kids, had something that she had to get done for me, when we were on vacation or when it was her turn, Jane took the reservations and/or worked in the office. We have always been able to count on Jane. Her willingness to drop everything to help, the kindness she shows customers on the phone and her abilities in every other aspect of Bunny Clark business makes her invaluable to us. Thank you, Jane. You take the pressure off and you do a wonderful job besides. Thanks for being with us for so long.

    Emma Keniston worked for us again last season, her third. She is Jared Keniston's daughter, Ian's niece. She did the reservations with us during the summer, spending long hours on the back of the truck in the sun. She was absolutely wonderful on the phone, great with people, intuitive and intelligent, a wonderful person to see, hear and have on your side. She was such a help to Deb and Jane. And having her there was certainly a great help to me. If it's a Keniston, it's got to be good. Thank you very much, Emma. Always a great pleasure to have you working with us.

    I ride in the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), an 192 mile, two day, cycling event that takes place the first Saturday of every August, to raise money for cancer research and care. Last year marked my fourteenth season participating. If you want to know more about how my PMC fund raising has evolved over the years, you can go to previous Guestletters where I spend extra time writing about it. I also include every donation and donor on the Fishing Update section of my website which I edit every day or try to. And I have another website dedicated specifically to my Pan-Mass Challenge season and those who have supported me throughout the year. I have written enough about it without doing more here. This is something I truly believe in. And it's working. People are being cured. Advances are being made. And all this information is being shared to make the world a better place for all. For those of you who donate and support me in this endeavor, I want to thank you so very much. I, obviously, couldn't do this without you!

    At the end of every fall, I think about planning for the future and about writing the Guestletter. I don't look forward to it at that time of year. It takes a month of steady work to complete. I think of paring it down. I think of skipping it for a year. I try not to think about all the time that I will lose being involved with it. But a couple weeks later, when I start reading all that I wrote about the season and taking notes, I realize how much I enjoy writing them. I revel over the fun things that happened, the angler achievements, the odd experiences, the super fish, the lucky catches and the hard luck stories. Through it all there is one constant. Our angling guests. I loved commercial fishing, growing up in a commercial fishing family and then doing it on my own. But there is nothing like taking people out doing what I love to do best and knowing that they are also enjoying it. Some of them more than I. So the Guestletter isn't much shorter. I feel like I have even put more time into it this winter. But I'm also anticipating going out there again and all the excitement it brings. The writing makes me relive all that I love about this business. In this day and age, you would have to love it to continue on, as it isn't the most profitable business to be engaged in right now. Thank you all for making my life so enjoyable. I am looking forward to seeing you all fishing with us again. You never know what a season will bring. And that's part of the fun. Winter well!








    Waking Up on the Offshore Fishing Grounds During the SOFT Over 70 Miles Away from Perkins Cove


    The digital image above was taken on July 7, 2020 during our invitational Special Offshore Fishing Trip (SOFT). By the time this picture was taken, we had already boated quite a few pollock and haddock. It was a beautiful morning and a beautiful day with perfect air temperatures and wonderful individuals who I had picked because they were such good anglers. From left to right are deck hand, Sean Devich (his back and white Bunny Clark t-shirt showing), Lew Hazelwood, Adam Towle (NH) and Donna Moran.

    If you want to send me e-mail, the current address is ttower@bunnyclark.com. My email address is sowhake@gmail.com.

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

    Back To Home Page, Deep Sea Fishing Maine