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Bitter winds, frustrated anglers, beautiful trout – Moody Sheelin

April 19th, 2017 | by

‘I fish for hours, to hold a trout for seconds’


Sandrine Marmilloud, France with her fabulous 58cm Sheelin trout

Sandrine Marmilloud, France with her fabulous 58cm Sheelin trout

To say that this was a difficult week for fishing on Lough Sheelin would be somewhat of an understatement. Now, into mid-April things are going at a snail’s pace here and one would wonder if duck fly, buzzer, olives, mayfly and sedges will all happen together in a burst when the weather does eventually warm up.  The bad fishing was principally down to the insidious and unrelenting cold, coupled (on some days) with the frequently changing wind directions which added another challenging dimension for the Lough Sheelin anglers.  Sheelin is a moody, arduous and grueling stretch of water to fish at the best of times so adding in alien fishing weather into the mix leads to a more than testing lake.

Glen Weafer, Dublin with his beautiful trout

Glen Weafer, Dublin with his beautiful trout

Despite the elements working against us this did not deter anglers and there was a steady number fishing this lake during the week and at the weekend. Water temperatures are a good 3 degrees lower than they should be for this time of the year (hovering currently around 9 degrees) and with frequent north and west winds ensuring that the surface chill factor remained high the bulk of the trout went back down deep to feed and insect hatches reduced considerably leaving the majority of the weekly trout catches attributed again to the use of lures and fast sink lines, di5 and di7.

The Hatches

Sheelin Duck fly, April 11th 2017

Sheelin Duck fly, April 11th 2017

This is the point in the season where traditionally the trout should be moving upwards, to feed on pupa, emergers and adult surface fly.  Dennis Moss in his book ‘Trout From A Boat’ refers to this as the ‘transitional stage’ where the fish leave the bottom and move up through the water to feed on fauna.  The reasoning behind this move is down to the build up of food – buzzers and olives in the middle water columns and the corresponding dying off of asellus from the bottom which in turns forces the trout to look to an alternative source of food.  Nature balances itself out with the decline of one food source coinciding with the proliferation of another.

A Lough Sheelin Olive, April 11th 2017, there were olives at watty’s rock on Friday April 16th

A Lough Sheelin Olive, April 11th 2017, there were olives at watty’s rock on Friday April 16th

There is no doubt that the Sheelin trout have become a lot more mobile, they are on the move and visible, this fact being supported by the anglers reporting the chopping and changing of successful ‘catching’ areas in the lake and also to the high number of ‘jumpers’ particularly in the bays – Kilnahard and Chambers and at the back of Church Island but despite all our theories, the trout on the whole are still more interested in going down to the cellar to feed rather than reach for the surface.  It’s simple to understand why the trout are not feeding on the surface now – there is just not enough fly, what is there is patchy and uninspiring resulting in no incentive to entice these piscatorial creatures to make that changeover in diet.

The tail is still not told for Lough Sheelin’s 2017 fishing season - Note the spots extending on into the end of this very beautiful fish

The tail is still not told for Lough Sheelin’s 2017 fishing season – Note the spots extending on into the end of this very beautiful fish

Frustration and irritation over ride patience at this point in time, as the fly anglers persistently set out accompanied by a vast array of both wet and dry, nymph, emerger and buzzer patterns only to return emptied handed and disillusioned. Trout were reported to be seen to be taking duck fly close to the shoreline in Bog Bay earlier in the week and also said to be feeding on tiny black chironomids, ‘impossible to imitate’ but the catches on fly were poor over the past seven days.

Lough Sheelin’s Buzzer, April 11th 2017

Lough Sheelin’s Buzzer, April 11th 2017 – Impossible to imitate?

The catches

Heading for release April 11th 2017

Heading for release April 11th 2017

Some beautiful fish were caught this week with the French catching the highest number (all released ) but the Irish flag was flown with the heaviest fish – a trout of over 6lbs caught by Dublin angler Glen Weafer and guided by local man Thomas Harten.

‘Playing a fish’

‘Playing a fish’

The most successful fishing areas of this lake were totally governed by the weather and with bitterly cold winds persistently changing direction it was literally ‘you pays your money and takes your choice’. Fish were seen pitching in every area with the arrival of an olive hatch last Friday, the best areas were Kilnahard, Chambers, at the back of Church Island, Curry pt and Merry pt but I use the word ‘best’ very loosely here as although trout were visible doing their acrobats they were far from interested in pro-offered flies – natural or artificial.

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The heaviest fish for this week was a trout of 6.3lbs caught by Dublin angler Glen Weafer.

Total number of trout recorded: 27

Selection of Catches

  • Sandrine Marmilloud, France – 2 trout at 54 and 58cm, lure fishing.
  • Ben Mackay, Scotland – 2 trout heaviest at 2lbs wet fly fishing.
  • Christopher Defillon – 8 trout heaviest at 5lbs, caught on lures.
  • Matis Andrulis, Dublin – 2 trout, 3 and 4lbs taken on Minkies.
  • Azuolas Mikenas, Wexford – 3 trout using Humungus and Snakes, heaviest at 5½ lbs
One for the measuring board – Lough Sheelin April 2017

One for the measuring board – Lough Sheelin April 2017 

The Flies

Lures – bait imitations, humungus, minkies, zonkers, snakes and streamers fished on fast sinking lines are what worked this week but similar to the previous week, even anglers using the lures worked long and hard for results. The results of course were well worth the effort – gleaming well-conditioned trout tipping the scales in some cases at over 6lbs  and the pain of getting there is instantly forgotten.

Muddled nymphs (Arthur Macdonald)

Muddled nymphs (Arthur Macdonald)

The most successful flies & lures for this week were the Humungus (in gold and silver), Minkies, Snakes, Zonkers, Muddlers, Golden Olive Bumble, the Hare’s Ear, the Silver Dabbler, the Fiery Brown Dabbler, the Claret Dabbler, the Claret Bumble, Bibios, the Silver Invicta, the Connemara Black, Black Pennell, the Cock Robin and the Sooty Olive.

Fly anglers for now are still waiting in the wings on this lake. Fly anglers, interestingly, I am reminded on a near daily basis are not the same as lure anglers, few anglers fishing this lake alternate between lure and fly, they are either one thing or another.  Lure is seen as repetitive and boring by some, ‘dull, uninspiring, affording no comparable challenge to fishing a fly’ I was also informed by one of these ‘purists’ that it’s not about catching fish it’s how you catch them that becomes more and more crucial the longer you fish.  There is room for both – Wikipedia defines fishing as ‘the activity of trying to catch a fish’ so whatever legal method provides pleasure and excitement to an angler on Sheelin is more than acceptable – each to their own.

Olive Dun Kevin Sheridan

Olive Dun Kevin Sheridan

May is looming in the horizon and this coupled with rumours of other trout lakes alive with duck fly, olives and buzzer rises with in some cases the sighting of the first mayfly make for unsettling times.

Lough Sheelin’s ‘Pink Moon’

Lough Sheelin’s ‘Pink Moon’

The so-called “Pink Moon” arrived this week, visible over Sheelin on Tuesday night. Although referred to as pink it actually isn’t. The first full moon in April is named after the pink wildflowers that often begin to bloom around this time of year, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. On Tuesday the moon, according to Space.com was on the exact opposite side of the Earth as the sun and appeared its fullest.  Under the bright brilliant full moon Northern Ireland angler Alex Doyle throwing in his last cast landed himself a 4 ½ lb fish as he was coming into Chambers.

Nico Vindret, France guided by Christopher Defillon, Lough Sheelin April 2017

Nico Vindret, France guided by Christopher Defillon, Lough Sheelin April 2017

Go fishing…

A permit is required to fish Lough Sheelin. Buy your permit online at: shop.fishinginireland.info or from any of the permit distributors listed here.

An expensive spinning rod and reel were found on Kilnahard pier on Saturday March 18th, the owner can have these back by contacting me on 087 2141500

House Rules

A catch & release policy is actively encouraged on the lake at all times

catch and release photo

Back with a splash

All anglers are required to have a Fishery Permit to fish Lough Sheelin which must be purchased before going out on the lake.

A Catch and Release policy is strongly encouraged at all times.

Please remember anglers to abide by BYE-LAW 790 which strictly prohibits

  • All trolling on the lake from March 1st to April 30th (inclusive).
  • From May 1st to June 15th – no trolling between 7pm –6am and no trolling under engine between 6am – 7pm and
  • June 16th – October 12th – no trolling under engine between 7pm – 6am.
  • No trout less than 14 inches should be taken from the lake

Join the Club…

For anyone interested in joining Lough Sheelin’s Angling Club – The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033.

Guides and ghillies…

Grey Duster GuidingGrey Duster Guiding
Kenneth O’Keeffe
086 8984172 Email: trout@live.ie

Christopher Defillon
Tel:  085 964369  Email: evasionpecheirlande@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.defillon

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services
Tel: 087 1245927 Web: www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com

John Mulvany
johnmulvanyfishing@gmail.com 086 2490076

D.C Angling & Guiding Services
contact David @ 087 3946989

Michael Farrell
Tel: 087 4194156 or  +353 43 6681298
Email: loughsheelinguide@hotmail.com

Michael Flanagan,
Trout and Pike Guide.
Email: mick@midlandangling.com Web: www.midlandangling.com

Guide Fishing Ireland   www.guidefishingireland.com


5 year old Noah Breen Johnson isn’t taking any chances on the water this season and neither should you

5 year old Noah Breen Johnson isn’t taking any chances on the water this season and neither should you

Water  rarely gives second chances and a life jacket is just that – it saves your life.Life jackets are required by law – SI No 921 of 2005 – Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005.

We would implore anglers and all other users to wear life jackets for their own safety as well as it being the law.

Please put on and keep on that life jacket until you are back on dry land.

The magic and moody Lough Sheelin, April 2017

The magic and moody Lough Sheelin, April 2017


This post is in: Lough Sheelin, Trout fishing reports