Persistent and very cold easterly winds have put the fish off the feed along the open shoreline with sizeable fish proving to be very scarce. Even the usually reliable flatties and whiting have disappeared, and flounders, which usually move inshore in large numbers during this time of year, are almost non-existent. As always, there are a few exceptions for those prepared to venture out when reports suggest that you may almost certainly be wasting your time. Roker seems to be the only area that has produced anything of note where Stu Carr took two cod totalling 12lb, with the best one weighing 9lb. Rob Burrett had two cod around the 3lb mark and Aaron Stead had one of 3lb 14oz. Unfortunately Roker Pier is closed at present due to storm damage.
Many anglers have been fishing the sheltered rivers where a few decent fish have been taken among the smaller specimens. The Tyne in particular seems to be full of very small codling. Bill Bell managed two cod for 5lb 14oz from the Walkway to win a South Shields match, and Dave Williams had one of 5lb during a pleasure session. Bob Gascoigne only needed two flounders, a coalfish and a whiting to win a recent Tynemouth retired members match with 3lb 7oz, a good result in the current conditions.
South Shields pier has also produced a few in size cod with coalfish and undersize codling being the more frequent catch. James Sanderson managed a cod of 4lb 14oz during a recent session. Some early plaice have also started to show from the pier, Grant Parkin landed a nice spring specimen of 1lb 9oz. Tony Taylor was the only angler to weigh in for a Newbiggin match when he landed a cod of 2lb 3oz from Cresswell Carrs.
Seaton Sluice A.C. started their summer league in very unfavourable weather by fishing the river Aln for flounders that failed to appearing any numbers. Chris Guthrie only needed two for 68cm, the best measuring 36cm, to win the match. The river Wear has been the best bet to pick up a few sizeable fish and avoid the smaller ones present in the Tyne. Jason Poll won a Durham Police match with five flounders for 149 points, Ian Ainsley had the best with a nice specimen of 40cm. Steve Harriman won another match at Southwick with six flounders for 132cm, and Paul Robinson fished the lower Wear to win a Sunderland A.C. match with three whiting and a flounder weighing 3lb 1oz. Another Sunderland A.C. match saw Henry Antliffe win with two flounders totalling 2lb 15oz. A sweepstake at Claxheugh saw Marty Pygall win zone A with two flounders for 60cm, and Gareth Gardner won zone B with two for 66cm, best 40cm. Down at the Timber beach Peter Graves won an Alberta match with three for 2lb, Darren Browne had the best of 1½lb. The last Ryhope club match fished by 59 anglers only saw a handful of flounders and small coalies weighed in. Tommy Tate won with two flounders for 0.83kg, Bob Bland had two weighing 0.81kg and Colin Smith had one of 0.80kg. Tony Smith was top junior with 0.43kg, and the best roundfish was a coalfish of 0.38kg taken by Chris Hossack.
Flounders have also been taken from the clean ground beaches at Warkworth and Embleton where there is also the chance of a turbot looking for mackerel baits.
Some anglers have started to fish the popular marks around the Solway for spring flounders with Port Carlisle a popular choice where big specimens to 50cm have been reported in bags of over 20 fish. Ragworm and lugworm tipped with mackerel has been the most effective bait with the cold weather preventing any peeler crab from showing.
South of the Tees shore sport is reliant upon the odd flounders and rockling. Julie Smith won a recent St. Mary's match with four rockling, a flounder and a blenny for a weight of 1lb 10oz taken from Skinning rove Jetty.