There are plenty of fish about now from all areas but most of them, as expected, are small and undersize. Flounders are starting to show in greater numbers both from the rivers and open shoreline with, as always, the chance of a bigger fish around the 2lb mark amongst them. Plaice are also showing with settled conditions and clean water bringing them close inshore. Lots of small undersize codling continue to be reported from all areas, particularly from the river Tyne where bags of over 20 fish are not uncommon mainly from the mid river marks. Worm baits are taking the smaller fish but crab will pick out the bigger ones plus a few coalfish and bigger flounders. Measure and release matches should prove to be very popular this year in the Tyne. Some bigger cod continue to show after dark from the piers and low water marks. Alan Heeley had an early morning session on South Shields pier and landed six cod up to 3½lb on fresh crab bait. On the other side of the river Dave Wood won a Longbenton match with 11 fish weighing 6¾lb on Tynemouth pier. Nicky Robson won an East End match in the Tyne with 15 flounders for a total weight of 11lb 13oz ahead of Greg Norris who had seven for 4lb 14oz and Tony Baldwin had the best of 1½lb. North of the Tyne cod are starting to show from the rock edges at Eyemouth in settled conditions with some anglers reporting double figure bags of fish up to 3lb.
The many marks along the Solway shoreline continue to fish extremely well with big bags of flounders showing from all areas. Thornback rays have had a revival over recent years, you can almost expect to catch one from Seaham North pier, but over on the west coast they are showing in large numbers this year with anglers using worm and mackerel bait for flounders picking up the odd specimen to 8lb, and those targeting them with fresh mackerel and sandeel baits taking several a session. At other times plaice, bass, and dogfish have all shown. The promenade at Silloth is a popular venue but there are many different marks all along the shoreline as far West as Kirkudbright to fish from. Over towards the Mull of Galloway visiting anglers report mackerel showing with early tope being taken from the boats. Later in the year tope can be taken from the shoreline and are a very popular quarry for visiting anglers from the North East. Those anglers shore fishing report taking bass from the usual marks along with the expected dogfish, pollack, wrasse, and the odd bigger bull huss.
Staying over on the west coast, the recent Maryport open saw 31 out of the 89 entrants weigh in 19 plaice, 11 dogfish, five cod, and two bass for a total of 60lb 7oz. Top prize for the heaviest fish went to Matt White with a bass of 5lb 3oz, John Mason had a cod of 2lb 15oz, Luke Holliday had a bass of 2lb 9oz, and Ged Stevens had the best flatfish, a plaice of 2lb 3oz.
Small boat anglers are taking bigger cod just offshore from the rock edges anywhere between Roker and St. Mary’s Island. Arthur Smeaton fishing from his own boat landed 23 cod just off from St. Mary’s Island. The new JFK 2 out of the Tyne has been taking up to 60 size cod a trip, mostly averaging around 3lb to 4lb from the inshore hard ground marks. Five anglers on the Lone Shark landed 62 cod, and the Sapphire had cod to 2lb and ling to 6lb just off from Roker.