Shore sport has seen a slight improvement with increasing numbers of sizeable fish among the hosts of smaller ones. Plaice are now starting to move inshore with some of the bigger ones topping the 1lb mark, Steetley pier, the Durham beaches, South Shields pier and the popular beaches north of the Tyne at Druridge Bay and Warkworth are all attracting anglers looking for a bit of sport with the flatties. There are also decent flounders from most areas, and the occasional turbot are also being reported with ragworm baits tipped with mackerel the favoured choice for productive sessions. Some anglers have reported double figure bags of various flatfish species but most are still on the small side. Coalies are showing in the local rivers and from Roker and South Shields piers where small pollack have also been reported. The Tyne is full of mainly smaller fish, keeping match anglers happy and the Wear has a few more sizeable flounders showing from the mid river marks. A recent Eastenders sweepstake in the Wear saw Lee Brown win with twenty-seven fish for 560cm and Dave Mould took the longest fish prize with a cod of 31cm. Another sweepstake match saw Lee Brown win also with twenty-seven fish for 365cm and Paul Hossack had the longest with a superb flounder of 41cm.
The last Westoe A.C. match only saw one angler weigh in when Steve Elliott managed a coalfish of 1lb. Tynemouth retired members saw three out of fifteen find in size fish. Arthur Smeaton had a single coalfish of 11oz, Bob Hart had a dab of 9oz and Neil Garner had a dab of 6oz. The Tynemouth Sunday league match did not fare any better with only four out of twenty-four weighing in. Steve Elliott had two flounders and two dabs for 2lb 11oz, Neil Garner had a plaice and a flounder for 2lb 5oz to take second spot. Third placed Doug Spivey had a single flounder which at 1½lb was also the heaviest fish. Top junior Mathew Elliott had a dab of 6oz.
The last Amble sweepstake in the river Aln saw some decent bags weighed in with several flounders over the 1lb mark landed. Winner R.Gray had nine for 8lb 6oz ahead of K. Middlemist who had six for 6lb 13oz; best 1¾lb and C. Middlemist finished third with three flats for 3lb 5oz.
Mal McIntyre only needed 1.11lb to win a Seaton Sluice match, followed by Chris Guthrie with 1.03lb.
Flounders continue to be the main species to expect during sessions south of the Tees where Chris Woods had two for 2lb 2oz, best 1lb 4oz, taken from Whitby harbour to win a St. Mary’s A.C. rover match with only five out of twenty-two weighing in. Stu Watson had a flounder of 1lb to take second and Terry Dalton had one of 10oz which was enough to finish third. Lots of undersize coalfish are reported in the area.
Flounder sport over on the west coast continues to be very good and is attracting plenty of North East anglers hoping to escape the relatively poor local catches. A recent sweepstake at Port Carlisle saw all forty-four anglers weigh in quality sized fish with Simon Todd, Peter Stewart, and Michael Simpson all tying for the longest fish at 39cm. Tommy Tate won zone A with fourteen for 384cm, and Martin Pygall won zone B with fourteen for 431cm.
Boat angling is poor with few size fish of any note showing though one boat off Sunderland reported taking several cod up to 8lb recently. The recent Whitby C.S.A. Spring Open also saw few bigger cod caught with the best around the 9lb mark. It was those anglers with local knowledge targeting the pollack to try to get a double figure specimen that enjoyed the best sport, and this species took the top three places. Paul Danby was one thousand pounds richer with a pollack of 12lb 4oz taken on Trot-on, Mick Morgan had one of 12lb 3oz taken on Sea Otter 2 and Shane Hall had one of 12lb 2oz taken on Sea Urchin 2.