Cod are in short supply again with just the odd fish reported from the low water marks and rock edges mainly after dark. Whiting, dabs, flounders, and increasing numbers of plaice are showing from most clean ground marks with worm baits taking most fish.
Large herring shoals offshore may explain the lack of cod. Commercial fisherman Garry Owen fishing out of Hartlepool reports taking herring all winter and this week took cod of 50lb and 35lb, and a ling of 35lb amongst the herring just a mile off the Heugh, he also reports taking a single mackerel, nearly three months before they normally arrive
Steetly Pier, Roker, and S.Shields Pier have been the most consistent marks but even here some tides have only seen the odd fish landed. The river Wear has some quality flounders in the lower river, and the Tyne has lots of small codling in the middle river, with flounders from the upriver marks. The Walkway in the Tyne has produced small but size coalfish, cod, and whiting.
A lot of species seem to be early this year, plaice being the obvious one, but thornback rays are increasing in numbers every year and are already being reported. Commercial boats report lots of smaller specimens in the Teesbay area. South of the Tees Paul Lobley won a productive St. Mary, S.A.C. match when 14 out of 20 weighed in, with a thornback of 5lb 14oz, plus a dab, for a total of 6lb 8oz, both taken from Saltburn Pier. Dale Miller had 30 rockling for 5lb – 10oz to take second place, and John Fairbridge had 16 rockling for 3lb 8oz.
Flounders seem to be the mainstay of sport at Amble where C.Taylor won the last Amble A.C. match with 3 for 2lb 9oz, best 1lb. T.Cook had 4 for 1lb 14oz, and I.Harrogate had 3 for 1lb 12oz.
The East End and Hendon Sweepstake saw 3 out of 13 weigh in 2 whiting and 1 flounder taken from Roker Pier. Geoff Moon had a single whiting for 14oz, Mark Rawlings had a flounder for 12oz, and Dave Frost had a whiting of 11oz.
The Tuesday Ryhope Sweepstake saw 18 fishing with only flounders weighed in. Darren Welsh had one of 650 grammes from the Wear, Mick Hamilton had one of 605 grammes from Rathouse Corner, and Joe Archer had one of 365 grammes from Hendon Wall.
The last Ryhope club match of the winter on Sunday saw 90 fishing with 7 weighing in 9 flounders. Allan Burton had 2 for 650 grammes from Southwick Promenade, Joe Wilton had 2 for 560 grammes, also from Southwick, Gary Warwick Jnr. had 1 flounder for 510 grammes, and top Hartlepool junior Amelia Robinson had one for 365 grammes.
The Seaham Badger Open on Friday saw 4 weigh in 4 fish. John Lovett fished Noses Point to land a cod of 3.56lb, Matt Davison had a cod of 2.76lb, and Jack Clark had one of 1.04lb.
The Eastenders Open on Friday night saw 3 out of 10 weigh in 3 cod. Lee Burton had one of 1lb 12oz from Hendon, Darren Welsh had one of 1lb 8oz, also from Hendon, and Lliam Prest fished the Blast Beach to take one of 1lb 05oz.
Hartlepool Pirates fished Friday and managed to find a few dabs and whiting from the local piers. Bill Bradley had 6 dabs and 1 whiting for 2lb 07oz, Barry Pattison and Aaron Dixon tied on 1lb 6oz, and Dave Robinson had the heaviest fish with a nice dab of 11oz.
The Eastenders Open on Sunday saw 60 fishing with 5 weighing in 6 flounders and 1 plaice. John Surtees fished Marsden Grotto to land a flounder of 1lb 7oz and take the £250 first prize. Gareth Gardner fished Roker for a flounder of 1lb 2oz, Ian Bellfield had a flounder of 1lb from South Shields, and Ernie Hunter had one of 15oz from Trow beach.
Eastenders S.A.C. are holding a charity open in aid of Peter Joyce, injured due to an industrial accident. Register at the Eastenders pub in High Street East from 12 noon till 1.25pm. Basic entry is £10 and Penn points are applicable.