The biggest seas of the winter so far last weekend were welcomed by everyone, and brought an immediate, though short lived improvement to shore fishing. Some nice specimen cod were landed among mixed double figure bags. The sheltered marks fished best when the sea was at its heaviest, with the North Gare, Middleton and Pilot piers at Hartlepool, Rathouse Corner in the Wear, and the sheltered marks in the lower Tyne all producing cod to 6lb together with some specimen whiting to 2lb. Tuesday was the top day to get out when the sea had flattened off with all of the Hartlepool marks producing good numbers of cod to 8lb. Bob Coates fished a local pier on the Monday and reported several cod up to 7½lb on worm baits. Calmer seas towards the end of the week saw few of these bigger fish about but an outside north westerly swell kept some movement on the sea and smaller cod, quality whiting and some fat winter dabs were all out in force, with the beaches and low water marks easily outfishing the piers. The heavy seas had also washed plenty of bait out and those anglers in the right place at the right time were rewarded with lots of razor clams to collect.
Those club matches fished at the right time saw some excellent weigh ins. Eleven out of twenty-three had fish in a Seaton Sluice A.C. match with winner Barry Tweddle having eight fish for 14lb 9oz, P. Stephenson had four for 13lb 12oz for second, R. Forrest in third had seven for 11 – 12lb and Chris Guthrie finished fourth with seven for 11lb 7oz.
A Tynemouth Winter League match saw twelve out of twenty-five weigh in. Dave Hayley had three cod for 9lb 2oz from Slatey Gut for top spot while second placed Steve Harper landed four for 5lb 7oz from the Pipe End and Shaun Blake had two cod and a coalie for 5lb 5oz from Tynemouth beach. The heaviest fish went to Marty Elliott with a cod of 3lb 15oz.
Cleadon A.C. had another good weigh in with twelve out of thirty-six landing mixed bags of cod and coalfish, mainly from the rock edges. Neil Cutler was well ahead with five cod for 18lb 10oz, which included the excellent heaviest fish of 8lb 10oz taken from Whitburn. Martin Bayley had two cod for 8lb 11oz also Whitburn to fill second spot. In third place Steve Elliott had three for 7lb 2oz and John Newcombe finished in fourth with two fish weighing 3lb 13oz from the Tyne.
A brilliant turn out at the Bedlington Station Open on Sunday saw eighty-four out of two hundred and seventy weigh in a total of 410lb of fish. Winner of the heaviest bag was S. Robinson with nine fish for 13lb 13oz taking the £750 top prize. Runner-up Ritchie Howe weighed in five fish for 11½lb just ahead of Paul Westmoreland with eight fish for 11lb 4oz. Gary Pye took fourth place with five fish for 10lb 11oz and Mark Bailey had the heaviest fish with a cod of 8lb 11oz.
The popular Amble Open is on Sunday January 3rd fishing from 9am till 1pm between Seahouses Pier and Lynemouth Pipe, all piers and rivers excluded except that disabled anglers may fish Amble Pier accompanied by their registered partner. Basic entry is £12 for all classes which includes the heaviest fish sweep. Register at the Radcliffe Club Amble from 7am till 9am, weigh in from 1pm till 2pm at the same venue. Top prizes for the heaviest bag are £600, £300, £150, heaviest fish £400, £200, £150. Heaviest flatfish £150, £100, £50, ladies £50, £30, £20, with a supporting prize table worth £3000. Anglers are reminded to keep any flatfish alive for returning and stewards will be in attendance to ensure that no litter is left behind. Bait can be ordered from The Amble Angling Centre, contact Norma on 01665-711200.