Whiting are present in numbers previously unheard of from all areas now, with bags of over 50 to 60 fish not unusual, particularly in the south of the region, and even the rock edge marks are producing whiting for those trying to avoid them and hoping to pick up the odd cod. Some anglers are taking whiting three at a time, and on some tides when they are present in bigger numbers, the shoals are so dense that they are being caught simply by getting tangled up in the line. The plus side is that a lot of them are nice specimens over the 1lb mark, with good numbers also approaching 2lb. Club matches continue to be won with record weigh-ins. Best winning weight recorded lately and possibly a record from the Hartlepool area was a staggering 63 fish haul by Dave Littlewood for a 55lb total, well ahead of any other recent winning weights, when he won a Hartlepool O.M.A.C. match. While some other winning weights have been over 40lb lately, such a high bag weight has never been achieved, as far as I can remember, even when mackerel where present in large numbers. The best bag of cod taken during a Hartlepool club match that I am aware of was a 40lb plus bag taken by Maurice Usher many years ago during an H.A.D.S.A.C. match.
Some rare cod have been caught recently and there are also a few bigger cod starting to show among them. Best reported was a specimen of 19lb taken by John Armitage while fishing the lower Tyne, fishing partner Stephen Brown had five smaller ones for a 19lb total. Chris Hossack landed one of 16½lb from Roker Pier. Gary Wilson had four cod, also totalling 19lb from Blyth, and the magic 19 struck again when Ronnie Forest had five for 19lb from Hadston, the best of which weighed 6¼lb. Al Thain had a good session at Newton taking cod of 10lb 1oz, 9lb 2oz and 6lb 10oz. Paul Hossack had a personal best of 7lb 11oz from Roker pier in a 20lb bag total, Chris Pearson had one of 7lb 2oz from Sandy Bay, and Gary Pye won a Seaham Badger open with one of 5.45lb from Hawthorne. Dave Scott reports a cod of 9lb 11oz taken from the Bandstand at Hartlepool.
Bill Bradley won a Hartlepool Pirates match with a 46 fish mixed bag of 38lb 13oz ahead of Chris Coxon whose 10 fish weighed 8½lb, including the heaviest fish on the day at 2lb 1oz. Third placed P. Shields had 12 for 9lb 14oz and Steve Swales in fourth had 11 weighing 7lb 10oz.
Blyth beach produced the whiting for Glen Campbell in a recent Tynemouth Winter League match where he won with 15 whiting and a flounder totalling 10lb 15oz. Dave Hayley took second with a nice cod of 7lb 10oz from the Lobster Potts, and Steve Hardy was third with four whiting weighing 3lb 7oz, also from Blyth. There are plenty of whiting in the Tyne also, where Dave Flood won an Alberta S.A.C. match with six for 5lb 6oz, Alan Bennett had six weighing 4lb 11oz and Eric Bell had six for 4lb 7oz.
Seaton Sluice had a match at Amble which was won by Gary Appleton with two cod and a coalie weighing 6lb 1oz. Runner-up Chris Guthrie had three flounders for 2¾lb and Scott Davidson finished third with three flounders for 2lb 2oz.
Kevin Mofatt won an S.B.R.A.S.A.C. match with a cod, a whiting and a flounder for a total of 3lb 11oz from Blyth. Second placed Gary Wilson fished the same venue and landed a cod and a whiting weighing 2lb 13oz, as did Mick Ure with two dabs and two whiting for 2½lb. Dave Hayley won a Whitley Bay league match with a single cod of 4lb from Sharpness, and Simon Park had three cod for 13lb 11oz from Newbiggin.