With a moderate swell dropping away leaving cod to be caught from the rock edges, and calm enough for flatties to show from the clean ground beaches, the always popular Amble Open last Sunday saw a great turnout of 558 anglers with 132 weighing in 391 fish totalling 402lb. The catches included some fine specimen flounders and several cod over the 5lb mark keeping the majority happy. First prize for the heaviest catch went to Matthew Holdroyd with a good bag of 14 flounders weighing 14lb 5oz. The runner-up A. Gibbison had two cod totalling 13lb 11oz ahead of Willie Emery whose two cod weighed in at 10lb 1oz. P. Stone finished fourth with 11 flounders for 8lb 9oz and Steve Ayling had six flounders for a total of 8lb 5oz in fifth. Willie Emery’s cod of 7lb 6oz took the heaviest fish prize, just ahead of A. Gibbison with one of 7lb 5oz, and Dennis Melvin with 7lb 1oz. Steve Ayling had a superb turbot of 2lb 9oz for the best flatfish, followed by Darren McGlen with a flounder of 2lb 5oz and Steve Smith with one of 2lb 3oz. Pauline Ferry was top lady with 4lb 9oz, Cath Higgins had 3lb 6oz and K. Graham had 12oz. The top three juniors all fished very well and were well up in the main prize table. Daniel Tait had 6lb 1oz, Callum Bartlett had 4lb 5oz and Kyle Whellans had 3lb 10oz.
With relatively calm conditions later in the week the whiting were still out in force in the south of the region with the Hartlepool piers, Roker pier, and South Shields pier all continuing to produce big double figure bags of them. Hartlepool W.M.C.S.A.C. saw the predictable glut of whiting during their latest match with winner Paul Hornsey having a mixed bag of whiting and flatties weighing 16lb 4oz, Paul Blair had a similar bag of 13lb 9oz and Alan Howe had 4lb.
North of the Tyne however sport seems to have slowed down with double figure bags few and far between. Blyth beach remains a popular venue, but most club matches fished here have only produced a few pounds of whiting and flounders for the various winners. Ken West won a Tynemouth Winter league match from Blyth pier with three whiting totalling 2½lb, the best weighing 1lb 1oz, followed by Paul Foster with four weighing 2lb 7oz from the beach. Peter Stewart did slightly better in a Seaton Sluice match taking seven for a total of 3lb 15oz, Neil Lindsay had three for 2lb 2oz and Gary Appleton had two weighing 1¼lb. Ken Smith had five whiting and a flounder from the beach to win a Blyth A.C. match with 3lb 5oz, P. Smith only needed a flounder of 9oz for second place. Keith Armstrong had one of the better results from Blyth beach taking 12 totalling 11lb 2oz to win a Bedlington Station match ahead of Martin Pygall with 12 weighing 11lb 1oz and Alan Naisby with five for 6lb 10oz.
Just a few miles down the coast sport is a lot better, where Steve Harper won a Tynemouth Dave Higgins Cup match with 20 whiting, six dabs and a cod weighing 20lb 9oz. Second placed Brad Hill had 15 whiting, four coalies and four dabs for 16lb 1oz and Steve Elliott finished third with nine whiting, four coalfish, two flounders and two dabs totalling 12lb 6oz. Tom Charlton’s cod was the heaviest fish at 2lb 14oz. However, Arthur Smeaton only needed three dabs, a cod of 3½ lb, a flounder and one whiting for a total of 6¾lb to win a Tynemouth retired members match, just ahead of Dave Scrimageur with a similarly made up bag weighing 5lb 11oz.
There are also plenty of fish just across the river at South Shields pier where Steve Gordon won a South Shields A.C. match with 27 fish for 19lb 7oz, Robert Lees had 20 weighing four ounce less and Paul McIntyre weighed in 18 for 16lb 2oz and third place. Marc Wilkinson had the heaviest fish; a surprise dogfish of 1lb 13oz. A recent Cleadon A.C. match saw 11 out of 29 weighing in with whiting and cod being taken from Roker pier, South Shields pier and from the Tyne. Steve Gordon won this match also, with 19 whiting for a total of 14lb 9oz from Roker, Trevor Green had 16 for 13lb 14oz, Neil Cutler had six weighing 10¾lb, which included the heaviest fish; a cod of 4lb, and Mark Shotton had nine totalling 7lb 4oz.