Shore sport is very quiet with few cod of any size reported, even with a decent north westerly sea late last week there were very few sizeable cod around. There were the odd fish averaging around 2lb being taken from the rock edge marks after dark. The Hartlepool piers still have plenty of fish present but the great majority are undersize dabs often in poor condition after spawning. Best chance of a size fish has been the odd better flounder or the occasional stray whiting. There should still be cod around during a heavy sea and sport is unlikely to change until we get a good heavy northerly sea to bring them back inshore.
The rivers Wear and Tyne remain popular however, and offer the chance of a bit of shelter, and usually on most tides, lots of smaller flounders, whiting, or coalfish. The upper marks in both rivers have produced some flounders around the 2lb mark to worm and mackerel baits. Most clubs have now finished their winter matches and are waiting for the summer season to start around late April. The last S.B.R.A.A.C. match of the season produced a typical mixed bag weigh in with cod, flounders, and dabs all showing on the night. Malcolm Watts had two cod for 3lb 14oz, the best weighing 2lb 7oz, Brendan Soulsby had four flounders for a total of 1lb 15oz, and Andrew Dodds had two flounders and one dab weighing 1lb 4oz.
Boat anglers are getting among the cod when conditions permit. The Sapphire out of Sunderland which tends to specialise in uptiding during the winter months reports lots of small cod just offshore. A recent three hour trip produced plenty up to 3lb and five anglers on the Sarah JFK 2 out of the Tyne took 25 cod to 6lb as well as some early herring, ideal to freeze for ling bait later in the year. It should not be long before boats start to find the odd mackerel during longer trips further offshore, commercial boats out of Whitby report mackerel around 30 miles out.
The Bridlington European Open Shore Festival produced cod and rays up to 8lb for those lucky enough to find them. The overall winner for the best two heaviest fish over two days was John Byrne with 4.9kg just ahead of Vinnie Lyons with 4.83kg, and George Smith with 4.78kg. Best of the local anglers were Lee Wales from Peterlee with 2.86kg and Gary Blanchard also from Peterlee with 2.7kg. Mike Brockman had the best fish on Saturday with 2.85kg, Gary Storey had 2.72kg, and Scott Paxton 2.64kg. John Byrne won Sunday with 3.74kg, George Smith had 3.58kg, and Vinnie Lyons had 3.54kg.
Looking slightly further ahead the Seaham Good Friday Open on April 3rd is fished from 12 noon until 5pm between Hendon Groyne (excluded) to Hawthorn Hive. Seaham South pier will have 60 pegs available weather permitting. Register from 10am until 11am at Seaham clubhouse. Basic entry is £10 plus optional pools, team events, etc. 0191 5810321 for further details.