The Northumberland rock edge marks are fishing very well at present with double figure bags of cod possible for those fishing with fresh crab baits into the kelp beds. Pollack, coalfish, mackerel, and as well as the cod have been landed from the deeper water marks with lures and float tackle. Seahouses, Beadnell, Embleton and northwards to Eyemouth and St. Abbs have all been very popular in the settled and sunny conditions. Steve Williams won the third Whitley Bay summer league match at Beadnell with four cod, two pollack, and two wrasse for a total weight of 18lb 14oz, ahead of John Nixon whose four cod weighed 12lb 3oz. Third placed Chris Potts had five for 11lb 11oz and John Hepton had the heaviest fish with his cod of 6½lb. The lower Tyne also has some nice cod present if you can avoid the mackerel anglers. Alan Heeley won a Fishermans Locker sweepstake on South Shields pier with four cod totalling 12lb 5oz, the best weighing 4lb 5oz, he then followed that up by taking five cod for 11lb 6oz during a pleasure session.
Down at Hartlepool there are mackerel from the piers but sport has been a little patchy on some tides, nevertheless double figure bags have been taken from all of the piers on lures and float tackle. Those bait fishing have taken a variety of species both from the piers and from the Durham beach marks with flounders, plaice, dabs, coalfish, cod, the odd bass and gurnard all showing in daylight hours with lots of whiting and dogfish after dark.
As with previous years there are quality cod being taken by boat anglers just offshore from the hard ground between Seaham and Roker. A Seaham marina R.N.L.I. heaviest fish match saw 26 fishing in ten boats. Wayne Graham won with a cod of 10¾lb, ahead of Chris Smith who had one of 8¼lb.
South of the Tees at Whitby Matt Breen landed a porbeagle shark of 281lb aboard the Mistress, a previous trip produced ling to 23lb and large numbers of cod.
With bass numbers declining rapidly after a brief period of expansion and re-population due to overfishing and poor breeding seasons, scientists have advised that catches should be reduced by 80 percent. Warm water temperatures since the early nineties are believed to have helped bass increase in numbers but recent colder winter have more than cancelled that effect out. Recreational anglers are apparently responsible for nearly a quarter of the total landings and this does not include illegal gill netting of known populations i.e. those that exist around warm water outfalls and in estuaries. More reliance on farmed bass and using different nets to ensure that only adult fish are landed are some of the options to halt the decline but a ban on landing bass by recreational anglers may also be proposed.
Dr Tom Pickerel, of Seafish, said: “We are starting with the premise the stocks did very well in the late 1990s and early 2000s when we had particularly warm winters which was great for juvenile bass to flourish. That led to a demand for sea bass – people got into it. The winters got a bit colder in the late 2000s and the bass went back to where they previously were. But the market demand was still there. That’s caused a lot more pressure to be put on the stocks.”
A four-year project, C-bass, is underway to try to establish exactly what has happened to bass populations, what influences there are on them and to identify potential conservation projects.