The recent northerly seas certainly made a difference to shore sport and the many marks from Seaham down to Hartlepool produced some of the best fishing this winter. Middleton is always a top pier in heavy seas and big tides, often for those who can cast the distance off the end. A cod of 9lb was reported last weekend and there is always the chance of a big double figure spawning female fish at this time of the year. John Wilson had a good session on Middleton taking several cod, the best two at around 7½lb each, safely returning a bigger spawning female that was dropping its eggs on capture. North Gare also fished well at times but a good cast is required off the pier end when safe to do so.
Johnny Reynolds took cod to 3lb over a few sessions from the local piers and had a superb specimen whiting of 2lb 6oz as a bonus. Sport dropped off a little midweek, but picked up again as the sea settled which produced huge numbers of smaller fish on Thursday night and Friday morning, with some anglers taking over 20 cod from the North Gare, the Staincliffe, the piers, and Crimdon beach. Not everybody was as lucky as this however as some marks only produced the expected hordes of whiting. Best specimen cod reported was a 12oz fish from Horden beach. Many of the cod landed have been full of sprats and it is possible that any bigger fish will therefore be feeding off the bottom away from anglers baits.
Last Tuesday’s Ryhope sweepstake saw all of the top three heaviest fish come from Ryhope where Barrie Stowells won with a cod of 3lb, Ritchie Carr had one of 2lb 10oz, and Micky Davison had one of 2lb 7oz. The Ryhope club match on Sunday saw 63 fishing. Paul Hossack had a nice bag of four cod weighing 4.32kg taken at the White Wall, Anthony Williams had a single cod and heaviest fish of 1.27kg, and Kenny Haley had three whiting and a flounder for 1.42kg. John Porteous had the best flatfish with a flounder of 0.75kg, and top junior was Ryan Taylor with two flounders totalling 1.03kg. Earlier in the week Dean Stronach had a pollack of 3lb from Roker pier.
A Bedlington Station match saw G. Sidney win with three cod for a total of 12lb 11oz, the best weighing 9½lb, followed by Callan Stevens with two for 11lb. Twenty five cod for a total weight of 66lb 7oz were weighed in on the night. A more recent match produced better results when Scott Davidson won with six cod weighing 18lb 6oz, ahead of G. Sidney with five for 13lb, the best at 5lb 11oz. Dave Milne won a Tynemouth Winter league match with three cod totalling 9lb 10oz, with fish of 4lb 5oz and 3lb 12oz. Darren Swan had six cod for 10lb 1oz at Newbiggin to win a Seaton Sluice match. Chris Kell had five for a total of 9lb 6oz, the best weighing 4lb 1oz to win a Blyth match. Twelve out of 32 anglers found fish in a Cleadon match that saw anglers landing cod from S. Shields pier, the Tyne, Roker pier and the rock edge marks in between. S. Start had four cod for 8lb from S. Shields, just ahead of M. Daglish with four for 7lb 7oz from the same venue.
The Dave Jobson Memorial Open saw a few cod landed in the relatively calm conditions though only 11 out of the 45 entrants returned to the weigh in. James Patterson cleaned up with a bag of 13lb 3oz, including the heaviest fish, a specimen cod of 10lb 1oz. George Hornsby was second with a single cod of 7lb 10oz just ahead of P. Stewart with 7½lb.
Anglers continue to travel to Arbroath for the winter cod. Ivan Stott had nine cod for 20lb 12oz in his first days fishing then took seven weighing 12lb 12oz the next day. His best fish was 4lb 14oz, a tiddler compared to some of the cod that are taken from this area.