An unusually heavy sea for the time of year, normally the sort of weather that many anglers look forward to in the winter, scattered the mackerel shoals and washed lots of summer weed growth out. This left a lot of areas unfishable for those anglers who went out bait fishing. Cod would be expected to show in these conditions with fresh crab bait offering a good chance of a few decent fish but few have been reported anywhere south of the Tyne. Just the occasional dab, flounder, or whiting were all that most anglers managed.
The rivers have offered plenty of shelter of course but the Wear seems to be very lacklustre this year with few big flounders among lots of smaller specimens, plus small coalfish, and these are only showing on some tides. Chris Hossack only needed a flounder of 15oz to win last Tuesday’s Ryhope sweepstake in the Wear. The Tyne offers better prospects, with flounders and the odd cod from the upriver marks, and some bigger cod around the 2lb mark plus coalies and some other species from the mid-river and lower estuary marks, and also from South Shields pier where the occasional cod to 3lb have been landed from the heavy ground areas.
A recent match on the pier saw Steve Elliott win with a cod of 2½lb, ahead of K. Moody with one of 1lb 9oz. On the opposite side of the river Chris Robson won a Tynemouth Sunday match with three dabs, three whiting, a flounder and a cod weighing 4lb 1oz, and Ken Robinson won a Tynemouth retired members match with a similar bag of 2lb 11oz. Dave Hayley had the heaviest fish, a cod of 1½lb.
Local sport is not always confined to flatfish, cod and whiting. Stan Attle who regularly fishes Seaton beach and North Gare reports taking some bags of mullet up to the 3lb mark during recent trips, with some sessions producing up to three fish, a good result considering that both mullet and bass, which generally inhabit the same type of ground, are now in serious decline. A regular angler at the Staincliffe he also lands some decent winter cod. As Stan returns all of his fish he catches and therefore does not bring any home, his wife thinks he has gone out “clubbing”, this is not the case as I personally have seen him catch these fish. I suspect that his scenario applies to other anglers also.
Sport for summer cod continues to be very good north of the Tyne weather permitting. A recent Whitley Bay summer league match once again produced double figure bags, this time at Newton, where Dave Milne won with four cod for a total of 11lb 10oz, Kenny Bowen had five for 10lb 15oz, Adam Kennedy had three weighing 6lb 10oz, and Callan Stevens had the best fish at 4lb 6oz. Over on the Solway coast at Silloth, Jim Dobie won a Seaham A.C. match with 14 flounders for 15.83lb, John Lovett had 11 weighing 11.73lb, John Clarke had eight totalling 11.01lb including the heaviest fish, a thornback ray of 4.17lb. All fish were weighed and returned alive.