Most of the regions angling clubs will be coming to the end of their winter season now and shore sport often drops off a little until mid-April when fish become more established in the local rivers. Unless there is a good sea running when some big cod can still be expected, most anglers will be fishing the rivers for early flounders, coalfish, and perhaps the odd sizeable cod, or the clean ground beaches mainly for flounders. The exception may be those marks along the Durham beaches and into Hartlepool where big bags of whiting have made reappearance again and these might stay for several weeks yet. Bags of over 30 whiting can still be made from any of the Hartlepool piers, in addition some big dabs are showing, as well as lots of smaller flounders, and as with other areas some big cod can still be possible during a heavy sea.
The last Ryhope Sunday match saw most of their fish come from the local rivers. Darren Donnelly won with three coalfish, one whiting and a flounder for 1.73kg from the Tyne. Second placed Bill Bell fished the Wear to land three coalfish and two flounders totalling 1.65kg ahead of Kevin Martin also fished the Wear to land two flounders and a coalie weighing for 1.32kg. Thomas Rutherford took the heaviest roundfish prize with a coalfish of 0.8kg, and was also the top junior with 1.27kg, while John Robson had the best flatfish; a flounder of 0.77kg.
The Ryhope Tuesday evening heaviest fish sweepstake saw Craig Smiles take the top two places with whiting of 1lb 6oz and 1lb 3oz, ahead of Terry Mann with a flounder of 13oz.
Cleadon A.C. fished their last winter match recently with only four out of the 29 entrants weighing in. Paul Wastell had the heaviest fish, a cod of 3lb 9oz, and a coalfish from the North Arm for a total of 4¼lb total. Mark Shotton only needed two coalies totalling 1lb 14oz taken from the Tyne for second place. Their overall club champion Steve Gordon won with 166lb 9oz followed by Mark Shotton with 139lb 4oz. Taking into account the wide and varied, and generally traditionally very productive areas that clubs between the Wear and Tyne can fish, these weights are nothing compared to those clubs in the south of the region where some individual anglers who have access to the large shoals of whiting present this year have weighed in more than this in only two matches, and where winning bags have regularly been over the 40lb mark.
Boat angling is just starting to pick up a little from the offshore marks where some boats have had a few exploratory early trips to the hard ground marks and wrecks. Just the odd cod to 6lb have been reported, but several pollack of similar size have also been taken, and as the pollack become increasingly common some big double figure specimens are likely to be taken over the coming summer season.