A bit of a northerly sea early last week, in conjunction with some of the biggest tides of the year, brought some cod inshore but not in the numbers that should have appeared. Middleton pier produced cod to 3lb amongst some quality whiting when the sea was at its heaviest but generally sport was a bit slow. The other local piers and the promenade marks all produced odd cod while the big tides remained, but after that sport was again reliant on whiting and various flatfish species. Still no sign of any early plaice in the south of the region but some dogfish have been taken from the Hartlepool piers, the Durham beaches, and from the Seaham piers where they usually show at this time of year. The big tides pushed some cod into the mid Tyne marks where bags of around 10 fish have been taken on the more productive tides with crab the best bait. An Alberta match in the Tyne saw Steve Williams win with 14 fish measuring 370cm; Andrew Downs had the longest fish with a cod of 47cm which he took on the increasingly popular, but relatively unusual bait, of peeled prawn. Andrew Hodgkinson landed two cod each around 2lb 8oz. Northerly winds and heavy seas are forecast for later this week so this late run of spring cod may continue for a while yet.
The Seaham Hudson memorial match saw 15 out of 63 weigh in 25 cod, three dogfish, two whiting, and two flounders in what should have been more productive conditions with a nice falling sea running onto the beaches. Gary Pye won with a nice bag of nine fish totalling 11.97lb taken from the Blast Ledge, Dean Ambler had five fish for 8.29lb from the South pier, and Darren Swan had three weighing 4.77lb also from the Blast Ledge. Peter Appleby had the heaviest fish, a cod of 2.77lb. The Ryhope Tuesday evening heaviest fish sweepstake also produced cod. Paul Hossack had one of 1lb 14oz from Marsden, Chris Hossack one of 1lb 7oz, also at Marsden, and John Lovett one of 1lb 6oz from Roker.
Coalfish are starting to show in increasing numbers in the Tyne and from the local piers with the odd pollack amongst them. A Tynemouth Sunday league match saw mixed bags landed in the lower Tyne where Malcolm Cairns won with two coalies, a cod and a whiting for a total of 3lb 9oz, Chris Robson had a similar bag for 3lb 5oz, the best a cod of 1lb 13oz, and Adrian Millard had a single cod of 1lb 13oz to tie for the heaviest fish. A Tynemouth retired member’s match saw similar results with the odd plaice just starting to show. Trevor Straker won with a mixed bag of coalfish, plaice, dab, and whiting weighing 3lb 13oz, the best a nice plaice of 2lb. Phil Smithson had three coalfish, and two flounders for 3lb 10oz, and Dave Scrimgeur had a similar bag totalling 3lb 1oz. A South Shields sweepstake match saw cod showing from the pier. Paul McIntyre had two weighing 5lb 3oz, the best at 3lb 13oz, M. Robson had two totalling 4lb 5oz, and D. Carrick had two for 3lb 13oz.
It is probably still a little early to travel to the west coast flounder marks along the Solway and Cumbrian shoreline, those who have had an early attempt report bags into lower double figures but most fish are still small. Silloth promenade should start to produce flounders, early thornback rays and possibly bass towards the middle of April. However, it is not too late to pick up a few spring cod from other areas as anglers travelling to fish the mid river Humber marks report large numbers of smaller size cod taking squid and worm baits with bags of over 20 cod not uncommon.