The Northumberland rock edges have been fishing very well this summer, and as expected, the recent Bedlington Open saw a good turnout and a good weigh-in with most anglers targeting the kelp bed cod rather than the clean ground flatfish. Thirty out of the 80 entrants weighed in mainly cod, along with a few dogfish, coalfish and wrasse. Surprisingly no pollack were taken, but the top anglers all had double figure bags. Darren Browne won with six cod, four coalfish and a wrasse for a total of 14lb 14oz, taken at Dunstanburgh Castle. Michael Renwick had four cod weighing12lb 1oz, the best at 5lb 9oz, Paul Coe had five cod for 12lb dead, and Ian Greenacre had three cod and one dogfish totalling 11lb 10oz. Mark Bennett won an East End club match at Collywell Bay with two cod weighing 4lb 15oz, the best 2lb 9oz, ahead of Chris Bennett with one cod for 2¼lb.
There are plenty of mixed bags to be had from the lower Tyne and associated piers with smaller cod increasing in numbers already, normally September and October see the cod starting to become more widespread. A Tynemouth Sunday match saw Dave Milne win with a cod and a coalfish for 3lb 14oz, including the heaviest fish of 2¾lb. Chris Robson had two cod totalling 3½lb, and Dave Hayley had a cod and a dogfish for 3lb.
A Tynemouth retired members match produced some typical Tyne mixed bags again. Tony Anderson won with three cod, two dabs and one whiting for a total of 7lb 9oz, including a cod of 2lb 14oz which was the heaviest fish. Ken Robinson had two dabs, two flounders, a cod and a coalie weighing 4lb 15oz, and Wilf Reed had a single cod of 2lb 6oz. South Shields pier produced a smoothhound of 5lb for Dicky Oliver during a recent session, a rare fish for our region, but like thornback rays, they seem to be increasing in numbers all along the East coast. Plaice also seem to be increasing in numbers from South Shields with some tides producing bags of up to six fish, mainly around the 1lb to 1½lb mark.
Cod are also starting to show from the rock edges between the Tyne and Wear, and from the similar ground North of Seaham. The river Wear has been very hit or miss this year, and generally very poor compared with previous years. The last Ryhope Tuesday evening sweepstake saw Micky Davison take all the top three heaviest fish places with flounders of 1lb 1oz, 1lb and 15oz, all taken from the bottom peg, with few other anglers landing anything of size at all.
The Durham beaches remain quiet, odd flatfish and mackerel have been taken during daylight hours, some anglers continue to target thornback rays, and a night time tide has seen whiting and dogfish moving inshore. The Hartlepool piers are full of mackerel when conditions allow with plenty of double figure bags taken on lures and float tackle. Those bait fishing report lots of flatfish species from the piers, coalfish and wrasse are to be landed fishing close down the pier sides, and a late night session has produced the inevitable whiting. Beware however that a lot of poisonous weaver fish are around this year.
If you fancy a trip over to the Cumbrian West coast and Solway shoreline there is more to be had than just the Region’s famous flounders. A recent N.W.S.A.L. measure and release match on Maryport promenade produced some surprise tope on a day that saw thirteen plaice, six eels, four cod, three tope, two flounders, two dabs, and a rockling landed. Top individual was Steve Smith with five fish for 71 points.
Boat anglers are having a good year with fresh mackerel baits starting to produce some big ling from the wrecks with some better wreck cod now taking lures. Paul Bainbridge on the Sarah JFK 2 out of the Tyne had a ling of 21½lb, and Ross Alexander had one of 20½lb both taken from a wreck during a recent trip which also produced lots of cod and ling around the 10lb to 12lb mark, mainly from the offshore wrecks. Keith Ryder had the best fish of the day though with a monster cod of 26lb, the biggest reported so far this summer. The Sapphire out of Sunderland has been taking big bags of cod and ling relatively close inshore from the hard ground just off Ryhope and Roker. Gary Peel and a mister Hancock both had ling of 13lb, Michael Newton had a cod of 10lb, and Wayne Smith a ling of 10lb. Fishing the same area the private boat Iris Rose landed 37 cod to 5lb in a three hour trip. Danny Swan won a Seaham marina boat match with a ling of 18lb 15oz well ahead of Reece Jobling with a cod of 9lb.
Down at Whitby, Mick Leonard took the £5000 first prize for the heaviest fish in the recent boat festival with a ling of 24lb 2oz, which of course was also the heaviest ling, and Peter Lockwood took the £1000 second prize with a cod of 17¼lb plus £500 for the best cod. Carl Farrar was third with a ling of 15lb 10oz. Sarah Miller was top lady with a cod of 10lb 5oz, Jack Vero was top junior with a ling of 13lb 14oz, and Maurice Green had the best haddock at 2lb 8oz.