Gina gets first trout of the season on Sheelin
March 7th, 2017 | by Brenda Montgomery
‘Now faith in the substance hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’
Last Wednesday, March 1st Lough Sheelin – the jewel in Ireland’s angling crown, opened its waters to a brand new fishing season. On that first day around fifteen boats headed out, some from first light and the excitement and anticipation on that day and indeed in the preceding days was almost palatable as anglers reinstated their boats in bays and along shorelines, assembled gear and sorted flies.
Hungary native Gina Tanczos broke the mould on the first day with an impressive series of firsts – first woman to catch the first Sheelin trout of the season with her first time out on this lake, as well as claiming the weight of the week.
January and February have been uncharacteristically dry and mild but I had been assured by many local farmers (who are always in the know as far as weather is concerned) that we were due ‘for a slap of rain’ and true to form the real Irish weather set in coinciding typically with the start of the angling season so from March 1st onwards temperatures dropped and heavy rain, sleet and snow set in which although very familiar makes early season fishing that bit less attractive.
With high winds and heavy rainfall Sheelin’s water was predominantly discoloured which again poses difficulty for fly fishing and restricts the areas of success to the places were the water was the clearest which for this week was at the back of Church Island, Holywell and into the bays at Chambers and Kilnahard.
While perhaps not discussed in the reverent tones used for the mayfly season, March 1st is still a date of note in the trout angler’s calendar. For this is the day that, for many fly fishermen, marks the start ‘proper’ of the fishing season as trout once more become legal quarry on this lake. However, the start of the season seems to slip by, while interestingly enough the end of the trout season on October 12th is met with a twinge of sadness.
Neglecting the start of the season relates, in part, to what is commonly termed ‘expectation management’. In this information age we are bombarded with tales, rumours and images of huge trout caught, the ease at which they were caught coupled with a bewilderingly wide array of flies. Lough Sheelin adds a little more to this scenario in that this beautiful limestone lake has a reputation for heavy weight trout so the bar is set high in that a trout of under 2lbs seems to be almost dismissed as only in the pinkie category, hardly worth a mention.
The pressure is on and then launching out on to the lake the angler may well find the fish dour and sullen, non-existent fly life and the weather inclement, so it is no surprise that the fishing here as well as on any other Irish lake in early season may not live up to expectations. The trick, therefore is to limit (often drastically) one’s hopes for the day.
The angler who starts the season early has one major card stacked in his/her favour – naivety. After a winter of peace and the rigors of spawning, early season trout are less cautious than they will be later and thus easier to fool. The trout in this winter water will be holding closer to the bottom and minimizing their energy expenditure so they stay deep and feed on the copious amounts of shrimp and freshwater louse (assellus and gammerus) which adorn the lake bed. Snails and nymphs with the odd zebra mussel also feature on their menu.
Deep and slow is the rule of the day. The di3 was the preferred line for most anglers and those that headed for deeper water even chanced a di5 but at this time of the year it’s best to stick to the shallows and the slower sinker.
The best areas for catching this week was the north shore of the lake from Chambers Bay to Crover into Merry pt. and picking out the most rocky shores, shallows and exposed points.
Fishing anywhere on this lake is always weather dependent so particularly at this time of the year it is best to stick to the sheltered bays and behind islands.
A total of 21 trout was reported by anglers in the opeing week on Sheelin. The heaviest fish for the week was a 4½ lb trout caught by Gina Tanczos, Hungary on March 1st.
Selection of Catches
- Thomas Harten, Kilnaleck – 2 trout at 2lbs and 2½ on a Sooty Olive.
- Martin McCoy, Lisnaskea – 2 trout between 3 and 4lbs, Saturday March 4th.
- Eammon Ross, Ballyconnell – 1 trout at 1½ lbs using a Sooty Olive
- Gary McKiernan (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) – 1 trout at 2lbs using a lure.
- Christopher de Fillon, Navan – 2 trout at 1.5 and 2kg using lures, at Church Island, March 1st
- Wexford angler – March 1st , 1 trout at 2½ lbs using a Bibio Variant.
March is not the time to expect many rises simply because there is no fly life to tempt these normally sub surface feeders up to the top. Early season for the angler on this lake is all about sunken lines and lures, not flies as such except perhaps fish flies on droppers but it’s mainly large lures – things that look more like little fish than anything else.
I tried in vain to persuade a good friend of mine to fish this lake early season but was met with the words and I quote from his eloquently phrased email to me ‘I’d love to get on Sheelin in a mild spell of spring weather to experience the duck fly fishing there but I would rather gouge my eyes out with a broken stick than pull lures on a sunk line. Surface fishing in nice conditions with duck fly on the water would be priceless. Really special’.
The most popular lures used this week were The Humungus (Black & Silver), the Zonkers (in black with red and a silver underside), the Cats Whisker and the Minkie’s in various colours particularly those patterns which had silver threaded through them.
Lures are designed to primarily imitate baitfish but they can also act as attractors, when their bright flashy appearance and movement is what makes them so successful. They are all intended to be fished at reasonable speed to provoke the chase instinct inherent in all game fish.
Moving away from the lures (to keep my friend happy as well as the myriad of other staunch fly anglers) there were successes with the traditional patterns particularly using the Sooty Olive, Black Pennell, Weighted Silver Dabbler, Peter Ross Dabbler, Golden Olive Dabbler, the March Brown and the Bibios. Reports of fish being caught once more with the old traditional favourites admittedly felt like a comfort blanket being wrapped around this angling report. Back in the day, these flies like the Black Pennell were tied with the only materials available at that time. Long before the advent of ‘modern’ tying materials, they were created and improved upon at a far slower pace than today’s modern counterparts but they worked and decades later are still working.
As the lake rested from its anglers during the closed season, the trout did not and many trout ran the rivers to spawn. The spawning season gone by was a little different to other years presumably because of the low water levels. Sheelin’s main spawning river – the Upper Inny was recording trout spawning as late as the end of February 2017 while the Mountnugent finished spawning in early December 2016.
During the winter months the local angling club – the LSTPA were not idle and held a series of fly tying classes at the IFI offices at Kilnahard. These classes were popular and were enthusiastically attended weekly by a number of anglers varying from ten to seventy years of age. As well as a lot of fun some master flies were created and will no doubt be used in the forthcoming season.
IFI wish to convey their deepest sympathy and condolences to Sheelin angler Pat Bannon and his family on the tragic death of his young son Patrick on January 29th 2017 . Pat is a regular Lough Sheelin angler and every year organizes a very enjoyable and amicable trout competition – the Royal Cup on the lake. Our thoughts are with him always.
Requiesce in pace.
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 Guiding
Tel: 086 8984172 Email: email@example.com
Lough Sheelin Guiding Services
Tel: 087 1245927 Web: www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com
firstname.lastname@example.org 086 2490076
D.C Angling & Guiding Services
contact David @ 087 3946989
Tel: 087 4194156 or +353 43 6681298
The local angling club – the LSTPA will be kick starting the fishing season with their annual early season competition – The Kilroy Cup on Sunday March 19th.
This is a members only competition but membership is available on the day. Starting time from Kilnahard pier is 11.0am to 5pm with a 16” two fish bag limit.
The heaviest fish wins and there will be several prizes up for grabs.
For further details please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033
All anglers are required to have a Fishery Permit to fish Lough Sheelin which must be purchased before going out on the lake.
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
Life jackets are required by law – SI No 921 of 2005 – Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005.
Water rarely gives second chances and a life jacket is just that – it saves your life.
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.