A bit of warmer weather and westerly winds saw a big improvement in shore sport but only if you like flounders and lots of undersize fish of other species. Large numbers of small but fat undersize codling are moving inshore and may be a good sign for next winter if they survive, so please return them with care. Numerous small coalies and dabs are also showing from all areas and they can be avoided then decent flounders and early plaice can be expected on worm and crab baits.
These early season fish are often in a thin spent condition after spawning and again should be returned carefully. Most club matches are now being fished in the local rivers where flounders are always around with the chance of an in-size cod or coalfish in both the Wear and Tyne. Ragworm and mackerel baits continue to find the flounders and undersize fish, but fresh or frozen crab will now start to produce the better-sized cod and coalfish. Allen Piggott had a nice plaice of 2½lb taken from the lower Tyne in a recent Longbenton match that won both the heaviest bag and heaviest fish prizes.
The last South Shields match fished in gale force winds produced a few better-sized coalfish from the pier where Andy Brotherton had two for 2lb 1oz, with the best weighing 1¼lb, and Mark Robson had two for a total of 1lb 5oz. An East End A.C. match saw lots of smaller fish showing in the Tyne but only three out of 17 landed anything in size. Andy Robson had two flounders totalling 1lb 1oz to win ahead of Nicky Robson whose single flounder weighed 11oz. The Tynemouth Sunday league match fished in severe gales only produced two size dabs, each of half a pound, for Dave Hayley and Glen Campbell.
There are plenty of flounders over on the Solway and Cumbrian shoreline where bags of over 20 fish are common and some club anglers are now arranging matches to be fished at these venues where there is a good chance of finding specimen flounders topping the 50cm barrier. Seaton Sluice travelled to Port Carlisle for a bit of flounder action with all members weighing in. Steve Davis had 23 flounders for a total of 704cm while runner-up Marty Pygall had 19 for 597cm. Third placed Tony Stanford had 17 measuring 547cm, including the longest flounder at a whopping 47cm. Jimmy Dunn had the longest roundfish, a dogfish of 55cm.
The club also had a match in the river Aln where Adam Watts won with three flounders for 92cm. A recent sweepstake match in the Wear produced only a single in-size fish, a 15oz flounder, caught by Chris Hossack. Another match at the Timber Beach saw Gareth Gardner win with five flounders measuring 178cm, and yet another match at the Business Park saw Ken McCoy win with 23 fish for a total of 371cm ahead of Bob Gascoigne with 14 for 225cm, and Phil Wright with 190cm.
Seaham A.C. fished for the Wilkinson Cup last week with eight out of the 34 anglers weighing in 12 fish for a total of 12.95lb. Mick Davison won with two fish weighing 3.55lb, including the heaviest, a dogfish of 2.85lb. E. Watson had three fish totalling 3.38lb, and D. Heron had a single fish of 1.99lb. Lee Burton managed to find a cod of 1lb 7oz to win a recent Sunderland S.A.C. match followed by Ritchie Carr with a flounder of 1lb 1oz.