Lough Sheelin Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI April 4th to April 10th 2016
‘Many of us probably would be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect’. Norman Maclean
Martin Allen, Derry with his beautiful Sheelin trout of 4 ½ lbs (56cm)
From a trout fisherman’s perspective, spring is a long and changeable season, not one thing but many.
Now settled into April, this is a month caught between early season and the fanaticism of the Mayfly, a kind of no man’s land where we struggle mentally between the remnants of winter and the tantalizing promise of spring reflected in the longer days, the mere dusting of green on shoreline trees and bushes and buzzer hatches.
It is a month often wrung with frustration and despair as days swing from being bright and sunny with hatches of duck fly and buzzer to bleakly cold, choppy and wet where everything appears as dead as a door nail.
This was a week where a permeating cold clawed into every day coupled with strong and blustery west to north westerly winds. Temperatures rarely reached the double figures with a significant chill factor which effectively killed off hatches, chasing the duck fly back to the shoreline bushes and sending any emerging nymphs back down to wait another day.
This week felt a little like a false start at the Grand National with no ‘Rule the World’ feeling that comes with landing a heavy Sheelin trout.
A catch & release policy is actively encouraged on the lake at all times
Please remember All anglers are required to have a Fishery Permit to fish Lough Sheelin which must be purchased before going out on the lake.
The heaviest fish for the week was a 4 ¾ lb trout caught by Jakub Lasota on a Black & Silver Minkie
Total number of trout recorded: 47
Selection of Catches
Danny Murray, Dublin – 1 trout on wets at 2 ½ lbs
Enrico Fantasia (fishing with www.loughsheelinguiding.com) – 1 trout at 2lbs on Dabblers
Gary McKiernan, Cavan – 1 trout at 3 ½ lbs wet fly fishing
Paul Hansen, Dublin – 1 trout at 3lbs using a Diawl Bach fishing from Stoney into Gaffney’s Bay.
Roger MacInerney, Dublin – 1 trout at 4 ½ using a Buzzer Pupa.
Aleksander Bachar, Dublin – 2 trout heaviest at 2 ½ lbs.
Lukasz Kowalski fishing with Zdzislaw Zlotnik – 5 trout heaviest at 4lbs, fishing from Kilnahard to Crover.
Kevin Sheridan, Cavan – 1 trout at 3lbs on a Silver Humungus.
Shortly after dawn on Lough Sheelin
Lough Sheelin is one of the premier brown trout fishing lakes in Europe if not the world but this lake, full of expectation and promise, has the ability to bring even the most experienced and knowledgeable angler to his or her knees, for this is a moody and unpredictable stretch of water, governed by weather conditions with the ability to create incredible highs and crashing lows for the trout angler.
Fishing was slow over the past seven days and catches were low despite a steady fifteen to twenty anglers fishing the lake each day.
The Hatches and Flies
There were good hatches of small black buzzer early in the week and anglers reported some fish showing when the wind dropped. The big lures with sinking lines still dominant the top position for catches but the Claret Dabbler, Silver Dabbler, Sooty Olive, Diawl Bach, Buzzer pupa imitations and the Shipman’s Buzzer all achieved respectable degrees of successes for their users.
There are no sign of any lake olives hatching on Sheelin at the moment (usually the end of this month) so the only insects that are currently mentioned by anglers here are the duck fly and the buzzer often referred to as ‘those little black lads’.
The buzzer (or chironomid dipterans to give them their official title) are important things to trout fishermen as they account for over 50% of the trout diet but with over 430 different species, it’s all very confusing. To normal human beings, they all look very similar – the larvae and pupae being small, thread-like things that are in some cases no bigger than a comma, the adults being small, buzzy things that are often mistaken for mosquitos. None of the chironomid midges bite, but all of them (at least the aquatic ones) are regularly bitten by fish.
The life cycle of the Buzzer is this – the adult fly mates in flight and lays its eggs whilst skimming over the surface of the water, the eggs hatch into larva of which there are different types, the one of most interest to the angler is the free swimming type known as the bloodworm. Buzzer larvae change over time and mutate into pupa. This stage is vital to the fly angler as trout feed heavily on buzzer pupa all year round. The buzzer pupa comes in a variety of colours with back, brown and green being the most common. The pupa swims from the bottom of the lake up to the surface to hatch, and may make several journeys before finally choosing to hatch. During this time they are often stationary, suspended in mid water and easy prey for cruising trout. In order to make their ascent to the surface, the pupa fills air sacks within their skin for buoyancy. These air sacks can give the pupa a silvery appearance worth remembering to imitate for the fly or epoxy buzzer. When hatching the pupa sits suspended in the water’s surface and in the anglers terminology is referred to an emerger.
The most important rule to remember about buzzer fishing is a very slow retrieve.
I’ve been told at this time of the year and with this sort of weather that if an angler is lucky enough to come across a feeding fish then really any fly will do.
The earlier part of the week featured the largest number of catches, and where daytime temperatures seemed to take a slight lift around 5pm there were good hatches of duck fly in the more sheltered areas of the lake. One angler attempted a spot of dry fly fishing but didn’t strike lucky on this early occasion.
Without wanting to sound like a broken record the weather for Sheelin is still too cold for any surface action and the trout are still feeding and staying deep.
The last day of this angling week, Sunday April 10th hit in with the worst fishing wind of them all – a north easterly, which cut down the lake like a knife and although this didn’t deter the twenty something anglers that gallantly headed out, few fish were recorded at the end of the day.
Strong & blustery westerly winds coupled with widespread showers of rain and hail hit Lough Sheelin on Wednesday April 6th
Conditions will inevitably change as the season rolls forward and regardless of how lifeless the lake appears on the surface at the moment, there is a great deal of activity and feeding underneath those chilly grey waves.
A basic (not encyclopedic) knowledge of enthomology has to be an advantage to a fly angler, as to understand what is happening in the insect and therefore food world of the trout gives some direction as to what to put on that line.
The most successful flies for this week were the Humungus, Minkies, 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 and the Sooty Olive.
The best areas for fishing was along the Western shore, around Chambers and Kilnahard and down along Crover depending on wind direction. The shallows in sheltered bays and inlets, as close to the shore as possible were the best places for fishing this week.
Lithuanian Fishing Club “Go & Catch”
Early in the week, Ireland’s Lithuanian Fishing Club “Go & Catch” held their catch and release competition on Lough Sheelin. Sixteen club members fished for six hours in rough, cold and far from ideal fishing conditions, nonetheless thirty trout were caught and released with the Top 3 as follows:
1st Gintaras Padiminskas 5 trout
2nd Valdas Sankauskas 4 trout
3rd Andrius Bikelis 4 trout
The heaviest trout was of 1.5kg caught by Valdas Sankauskas.
This club reflected a deep environmental respect and protection for the lake and its surrounds on the day by first of all holding a catch and release competition and secondly when the competition was over the participants then turned around and spent over two hours picking up and bagging the mountains of rubbish that had been dumped by others over the previous months at Sailors Garden. Over thirty bin bags along with broken television sets, mattresses and other large pieces of domestic paraphernalia were stacked high ready for a collection by Westmeath County Council.
I was left feeling curiously ashamed, guilty and grateful for the work this club did with my previous cynicism that we live in an uncaring world lying in tatters around me.
Thank you “Go & Catch” for restoring the faith.
On Saturday April 16th The Ulster Fly Fishing Competition will be hosted on Lough Sheelin. This prestigious event was last hosted on this lake in 2014 so we welcome its return. The Ulster is normally run on a rota system between Lough Erne, Lough Melvin and Lough Sheelin. To enter anglers must be a member of the Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association or be affiliated to a Northern Ireland trout angling club. The winner of this competition will be officially the best fly angler in Ulster for the year and will be awarded the Ulster cup.
This will be a Catch & Release competition
For further information please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033
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
It won’t work if you aren’t wearing it…
Water rarely gives second chances and a life jacket is just that – it saves your life, so we would implore anglers and all other users for their own safety as well as it being the law under
SI No 921 of 2005 – Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005
5 year old Noah Breen Johnston
Crover, Lough Sheelin April 5th 2016
Lough Sheelin Guiding Services (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) 087 1245927
D.C Angling & Guiding Services – contact David @ 087 73946989
Richie Johnston, [email protected] +353 (0) 87 1939145
Michael Farrell @ 087 4194156Telephone: +353 43 6681298 Email: [email protected]
Kenneth o Keeffe Grey Duster Guiding 086 8984172
The many shades of Sheelin (K.Sweeney)
Brenda Montgomery IFI