During the past few years, mackerel have moved inshore earlier every year, at one time they would start to show around mid-July, recent years have seen them showing by late May, this year looks like it is a return to normal as cold water temperatures are keeping them well offshore. As usual rumours abound as to when they have been taken, and in keeping with tradition some reports suggest a few landed from the North Gare at Hartlepool. With cold Easterly winds backed up by strong sea breezes raising movement along the shoreline it might be a better idea to bait fish for flounders or the occasional bass from the open beaches. A cast from the piers for the inevitable dabs, coalfish, and whiting until the mackerel arrive should prove worthwhile.
Shore sport has been a bit slow with the Easterly winds, and the better sport has been from the rivers and the piers at Roker and South Shields together with the lower Tyne where plaice continue to show in good numbers, though most have been on the small side. With that little bit of movement on the sea cod to 4lb have been taken during a night time sessions with Roker pier and some of the Durham beach low water marks being productive. The Northumberland rock edges have just started to produce a few cod when conditions allow and some anglers report mixed bags of cod, wrasse, and coalfish just creeping into double figures.
The first match in the Whitley Bay Summer League fished at Beadnell saw 14 out of the 31 entrants weighing in. Garry Appleton won with three fish for a total of 8lb 1oz with second placed Dave Cruddace two pound behind. Paul Buddles’ cod of 3lb 15oz was the heaviest fish of the match. At Seahouses Dave Hayley only needed a single cod of 1lb 10oz to win a Tynemouth match. Another Tynemouth Sunday League match saw all the top places consist of mixed bags of plaice and dabs. Neil Garner had two plaice weighing 2¾lb, including one of 2lb 2oz, to take top spot. Runner-up Wilf Reed had two for 1lb 13oz, and Dave Hayley finished third with three dabs totalling 1½lb. Russ Balmer had a nice plaice of 2½lb from Roker promenade during a pleasure session while James Sanderson had cod to 3lb 6oz from South Shields pier. Steve Richardson had the heaviest fish in an Alberta A.C. match, a cod of 4lb 1oz from the lower Tyne, which was won by Mark Minchell with 4lb 7oz from the Fish Quay. There are no recent reports of any rays from the Durham beaches that seem to prefer big tides and flat calm seas, but anglers at Hartlepool have reported taking small smoothounds from Parton and Crimdon beaches. As always, anyone prepared to be patient with big fresh mackerel baits may be surprised by what species of fish actually inhabit the sand bars along this part of the shoreline.
There seems to be plenty of smaller cod just offshore along the rock edges north of the Tyne where Dave Brian won a recent small boat heaviest fish match with one of 4¼lb followed by Paul Birchell with 3lb 5oz. Fishing further offshore local boats have taken good numbers of smaller fish but the bigger specimens of 20lb plus which would be here by now during a normal year have still yet to appear. The Sarah JFK out of the Tyne, Sapphire out of Sunderland, the Bon Ami from Craster, and the Upholder from Amble all report big numbers of smaller fish around the 4lb to 5lb mark producing bags of up to 50 fish on the better days with lots of smaller specimens returned. Richard Roll on the private boat Stingray had one of the bigger fish of late with a ling of 10¼lb. Few boats have reported mackerel.