With the water clarity improving at last and conditions starting to look at least a little bit like summer, anglers are now starting to find good numbers of plaice showing from clean ground pier and beach marks. Several years ago, this species was almost non-existent, now they can be expected with some certainty and specimens over the 3lb mark should start to appear soon. The usual marks at South Shields and Roker piers, the Durham beaches and those at Crimdon and Parton at Hartlepool have all produced smaller specimens to ragworm and crab baits together with better fish around the 1lb mark.
Some anglers have reported turbot showing from the same marks with fish to 2lb taking mackerel or bluey baits. Lots of dabs are also evident, particularly from the Hartlepool piers where some decent whiting are also showing after dark. Dogfish continue to be reported from the Seaham area and the local beaches and although no rays have been recorded recently those anglers willing to put the time in with fresh mackerel, bluey, or crab baits might be pleasantly surprised. The Hartlepool beaches at Parton and Crimdon, Horden beach, which is a well-known mark for them, and the Blast beach all may be productive with big tides when the water is clear the best time to try.
South Shields pier has fished very well on occasion with cod and coalfish, around the 2lb mark, flounders, plaice, dabs, whiting and pouting have also shown with some anglers are reporting mixed bags of over twenty fish.
Various flatfish species are the mainstay of club matches with the rivers showing a slight improvement. Seaton Sluice had a good match fishing the Aln for flounders with 75 caught and released for a total weight of 46¼lb. Mick Bell won with 17 totalling 9¾lb, Gary Appleton had 10 for 6lb 15oz and Marty Pygall third placed bag of nine fish weighed 6lb 13oz, including the best of 40cm. East End A.C. fished the Wear for flounders and found a few plaice had also moved into the river with seven out of the 19 entrants weighing in 11 fish. Les Henzell had three weighing 3lb 3oz and Terry Mooney had two for 1lb 14oz. Plaice, dabs and flounders featured in the Tynemouth retired members match in the lower Tyne with 14 out of the 24 finding fish and large numbers of undersize fish were present on the day. The winner, Ken Robinson had two flounders and a plaice for a total of 2¼lb while second placed Mick Styles had two dabs and a plaice weighing 1lb 15oz. Doug Spivey’s plaice of 1lb 10oz was the heaviest fish. Up at Amble a recent match saw Paul Buddles win with a nice turbot of 2lb 15oz, Gordon Holland had one of 2lb and Ken Middlemist weighed in two flounders for 1lb 11oz.
On the boats, the T.J. Gannet out of Hartlepool reports cod to 10lb and pollack to 5lb taking various baited lures, as well as the first mackerel, which have eventually arrived inshore, four weeks later than normal.