Settled conditions and unusually clean water brought the mackerel back inshore last week with huge numbers showing from the Hartlepool piers, particularly at North Gare which saw fish being landed throughout the entire tidal range from one low water to the next, sometimes in only a few feet of water, float tackle and lures took bags of over 60 fish on Monday and Tuesday. The last time so many mackerel showed from the Gare, several years ago, they moved into Greatham Creek and the Blue Lagoon and stayed until mid November. As a bonus, while fishing, there are large numbers of dolphins, and possibly smaller whale species in the bay to observe, large dorsal fins were clearly visible between the Gare and Longscar Rocks, and sometimes around one to two miles offshore, where even at that range in flat calm seas they could clearly be seen, they where obviously not smaller harbour porpoises, and some anglers fishing Middleton report what they think to be whale species jumping clear of the water, probably feeding on the huge mackerel shoals. A similar scenario occurred last week at Roker pier. There are a lot of fixed nets visible off the North Gare but the mackerel are still getting through them, unfortunately they may also trap these dolphin species.
With the piers being quite crowded there is little point in fishing for anything else unless the weather changes, or you want to try a late evening session bait fishing for flatties and whiting. Elsewhere, all of the regions piers are full of mackerel with herring evident further north at Roker and South Shields. At Roker some anglers are taking more herring than mackerel and some bigger pollack have been taken float fishing down the pier sides. If you are not a mackerel angler then the Tyne has lots of different species present, fresh crab will take the bigger fish but ragworm and mackerel will still pick up plenty of smaller flounders, coalfish, and whiting. A recent Tynemouth retired members match produced yet more typical Tyne mixed bags of mackerel, cod, coalfish, whiting, flounder, dabs, plaice, and dogfish. Tony Taylor won with six mackerel, a cod, and a dogfish for a total of 9lb 2oz, he also had the heaviest fish with his dogfish of 1lb 14oz. Tony Anderson had a similar bag of nine fish for 6¾lb, as did Gary Wilson whose eight fish bag weighed 5lb 3oz.
The Wear is still having a poor year with smaller numbers of small flounders and coalfish in the lower river, recent days have seen mackerel and herring move into the lower river marks, mainly around the Glass Centre. The last Ryhope sweepstake saw Dave Woods and Andy Rutherford tie for first place with a flounder and coalfish of 12oz, Mick Davison had a coalie of 9oz, and Bob Surtees one of half a pound. Bob Surtees and friends travelled to Skegness in search of smoothhound and had success this time. Barrie Stowells had the best smoothhound of 9¼lb, with everyone else taking specimens to 5lb, all on fresh crab bait. John Surtees had a bonus of a nice plaice of 1lb 10oz.
Boat anglers are taking plenty of quality cod from the inshore ground all along the North East coast. Artificial shad type lures on long traces seem to be the best method lately. Patrick Rogan fishing out of Hartlepool had a big surprise when he landed a superb halibut of 68lb during a recent trip.