Lough Sheelin Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI May 16th – May 22nd  2016

‘A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it’

Arnold Gingrich


Bradley Chalmers, Scotland with one of his Sheelin trout.  Bradley wears a ‘floatation waist coat’

The Babylonian proverb “The gods do not deduct from man’s allotted span the hours spent in fishing.” somehow always seem to elude me until this week as Sheelin steadily moved into what many anglers would consider to be the most exciting part of the fishing season – the mayfly. This is the time when the mundaneness of the outside world and its commitments don’t seem to exist, time stands still and every angler is locked into a surreal space full of anticipation and expectation. Anglers leave jobs and responsibilities behind once the word is out that ‘the fly is up’.  Some of the more lucky ones spend the next three weeks submerged in a frenzy of angling that is matched only by the feeding frenzy of the trout in the lake itself.

Lough Sheelin’s Mayfly, May 22nd
Lough Sheelin’s Mayfly, May 22nd

The mayfly, a large winged beautiful fly that provides an unspeakable joy to both man and fish.

Large brown trout appear from the depths to feed on these graceful creatures as they hatch and float along in the wind.

Warm weather and good cloud cover last Tuesday triggered the official start of Lough Sheelin’s mayfly with noticeable hatches along Derrysheridan, Chambers and Wilson’s pt. Other trout lakes are reporting a trickle of mayfly but for Sheelin, patchy would be a better word to describe what was happening in the earlier part of this week.  The success of Sheelin’s fishing paralleled itself intrinsically to the weather conditions, nature’s team of two, constantly intertwined, unable to work separately.  A point in case was last Thursday, when strong south westerly’s gusted across the water making fishing somewhat difficult but when the wind dropped around 4pm, in certain areas, the lake became alive with free rising trout, coming up to feed on the substantial mayfly hatches and taking the artificial, it was as if the previous waves had blinded these fish to the food source.  Friday last was wet and this was matched with pulling the wets, hare’s ear and mayfly and buzzer nymph patterns worked well this day which would indicate that the majority of fish are still subsurface feeding and the mayfly season is still in the early stages.  Pheasant Tail nymphs and Hare’s Ear are good for surface-film penetration and to fish still lower in the water, when the need arises.  A slow presentation is the key to successful nymph fishing, so it is essential to slow down the rate of the drift.

When trout were showing on the surface, the dry mayfly in all its various hues of yellow, green and ginger landed some impressive trout as did some Emerger and Klinkhammer-style patterns depending on the stage of hatching and the moods of the our trout.

This is an amazing time of the year – entomologically speaking and one which perhaps many anglers in their haste to get out on the water fail to appreciate.


Robin Rainey’s Sheelin

The catches…

The areas of the lake which fished best were totally governed by weather conditions primarily wind direction. As the week progressed, the mayfly hatches increased dramatically so the best areas chopped and changed each day from morning to evening.  The areas that showed the best catches were at the back of Church Island, Sailors Garden, Chambers and down along the western shore but tomorrow this could be different and really at this time of the year any area could be excellent.

As Sheelin becomes immersed with piscatorial madness and large numbers of anglers who perhaps fish at no other time of the year flock to this lake, anglers should be aware of good angling etiquette and be mindful of other anglers and the drifts that they are fishing. There are strict rules on this lake, enshrined in bye-laws which anglers must educate themselves to and adhere to, these are signs around the lake and also on the IFI web site.  All anglers must have a permit before they go out on the water and they must abide by the size and bag limits and without wanting to throw cold water on any one’s enjoyment of this wonderful lake, contravention of these bye-laws will carry a fixed charge notice.

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

image019It 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





Sheelin Guiding Services

Grey Duster Guiding Sheelin

Swords Angling Centre


Trout fishing has picked up his week and with the mayfly kicking off why not call in and have a look at all our massive range of flies from Frankie Phillips, Fulling Mill, Bann valley, DragonFlies and our own flies. We also have a large range of fluorocarbon and tippets from Fulling Mill, Seaguar, Riverge, Daiwa, Drennan, Frog Hair, Rio, Stroft, Scierra, Hanak, Maxima, Grauvell. And Fly Lines from Rio, Cortland, Daiwa, Airflow, scierra, Greys, Shakespeare.

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 this week was 7 ½ pounder caught by Bradley Chalmers, Scotland
Total number of trout recorded: 367


Selection of the catches

Dessie MacEntee, Cavan – Tuesday May 17th 4 trout heaviest at 4lbs.

Gene Brady, Cavan – 4 trout heaviest at over 6lbs, on wet May flies

Des Elliott, Dublin – 2 trout, heaviest at 3lbs on a Claret & Mallard and wet mayfly patterns

Albert Berry, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 4lbs 3oz on a dry Wulff.

Michael Callaghan, Cavan – 1 trout at 3lbs on May 21st.

Colin Cathal – 6 trout on wets, heaviest at 3 ½ lbs

Charlie Carrott, Northern Ireland – 3 trout fishing wet mayflies, heaviest at 3lbs.

Robin Rainey – 2 trout heaviest at 2 ½ lbs on wet mayfly patterns.

Chris Meadows, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 22 inches pulling wets

Noel McLoughlin, Kells – 5 trout, best at 4 lbs.

Shane O’Reilly, Dublin – 13 fish for the week, best fish 58 cm – maybe 4.5 lbs

Paul O’Reilly, Dublin – 8 fish through Thursday, Friday & Saturday in the 2.5 – 3 lbs

Daragh Browne, Dublin – 3 fish Tuesday evening, heaviest 3lbs on a dry midge pattern and 2 more Friday evening, heaviest 3lbs.

Richard Kearns, Dublin – 2 fish on the dap averaged 2lbs on Saturday, May 21st

Declan Young, Cavan – 1 trout at 22” pulling wets.

The Competitions

Last Sunday May 22nd the ITFFA held their youth fundraiser on Lough Sheelin. This was a catch & release competition with a top prize of €1000 which went to local angler Thomas Lynch with his beautiful 53.7cm. As well as the cash prize, Thomas gets the Youth Fundraiser perpetual cup and of course the bragging rights for winning this great event!
Results are as follows:

We had a total of 24 boats and a total of 46 anglers fishing the Competition.
A total of 19 fish were presented for measuring with several smaller fish caught and released without being measured. All fish measured were seen to safely swim away.

There were a total of 12 prizes plus a “secret length” prize

The final results are as follows.

1st: Thomas Lynch with a fish measuring 53.7cm
2nd: Simon Yorke —- 51.0 cm
3rd: Chris Meadows ——50.3 cm
4th: Dylan Ennis ——-50.3 cm
5th: Jack Maher —– 48.7 cm (youth angler)
6th: Brendan Heaney —–47.0 cm (youth angler)
7th: Andrew Sloan —— 46.7 cm
8th: Gerard mcloughlin —-46.3 cm (youth angler)
9th: James Maher —– 45.6 cm
10th: Andrew McGuinness —- 44.0 cm
11th: Ciaran Reilly —-43.5 cm (youth angler)
12th Ciaran Flaherty —- 43.3 cm (youth angler)
Secret length prize: Liam McLoughlin 42.0 cm ( closest the secret length which was 41.9cm)

ITFFA Youth officer Frank Dempsey would like to sincerely thank each and every angler who came out to support the National Youth Team. Thanks a million also to Francis Rafferty snr, Sean Dempsey and Fergal McKiernan who gave up their day to measure fish for the competition at dedicated points on the lake. Thanks also to our main Sponsor Brian Connaughton of Wildhunter Fishing and Shooting Athlone. Frank would also like to thank LSTPA for their great support in running this competition especially Kenneth O’Keefe and Thomas Lynch.
Thanks very much to the IFI staff who were very helpful and for the use of their slipway at Mullaghboy.
A special mention to ITFFA president John Cooke who made a point of coming along to the presentation of prizes even though he was unable to fish the competition himself due to other commitments.

image035Measuring up at the ITFFA Youth Fundraiser

The Hatches and the Flies

Mayflies are large and intricially beautiful insects and emerge at any time from April through to autumn but the principal hatches for Lough Sheelin are traditionally from May 23rd onwards to mid-June. The reason the name doesn’t coincide accurately with the month is because they were named before the Pope changed the calendar and at that time May was a couple of weeks later in the year – just a little bit of useless information. Old timers on this lake repeatedly remind me that the peak of the mayfly season coincides precisely with when the may blossom or whitethorn on the surrounding shoreline is in full bloom and this was been the most accurate barometer that I have ever seen. For now these flowers are just coming out and it will take at least another week or so before we will see a full blossom.

The first of the greens, Tuesday May17th

The larvae of mayflies, which anglers called nymphs, live for two, occasionally three years on the bottom of the lake. There they burrow into the silt or sand and filter organic matter out of the water. They grow continuously which involves regular shedding of image007their external skeleton and produce a new and larger one. Scientists call each of these stages, between molts, an ‘instar’. When they eventually rise to the surface and the last larval skeleton breaks open to reveal a winged insect, these magical creatures to not have a great life expectancy – days a most. They are doomed because they have lost their mouth parts and cannot eat. Their priority is the production of fertilised eggs to start a new generation, a new cycle. But mayflies are unusual among aquatic insects in that they undergo one more molt as a winged insect before they become sexually mature. Biologist call the two stages of winged insect the sub-imago and the imago. But anglers have their own vocabulary for these stages – the sub-imago and the imago become in their terms the dun and the spinner. Mating takes place in mid air, with amazing swarms of insects performing a graceful aerial dance as they select a partner. The best area on this lake to see this amazing ritual is around church Island. The fertilised female drops back to the water surface where she deposits up to eight thousand slow sinking eggs. Both males and females die.

The fact that mayflies are important to anglers obviously shows that they are even more important to the trout. In fact they are a vital component of the overall ecology of the water that the fish survive in. Lough Sheelin carries with it a past shadowed by pollution and high phosphate loading so to see the abundance of mayfly hatches is somewhat a relief as mayfly nymphs are particularly sensitive to pollution, so at this time of the year as well as spending many happy hours fishing for those heavy weights each and every angler should offer up a prayer of thankfulness that Sheelin’s water quality is good enough to support these very special insects.

image018The most popular flies for this week have moved swiftly into the mayfly (wet & dry), buzzer and nymph patterns and sinking lines and large lures have almost become a distant memory. Patterns carrying red, orange and claret yielded the best results.
The Raymond Bumble (a good attractor fly), the Claret Bumble (on the point), Claret & Mallard (middle fly), the Holo Dabbler (a good fly on the point for an emerging mayfly), the Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, the CDC Mayfly, the Gold Dabbler, the Green Mayfly, the Golden Olive Stimulator, the Octopus, the Gosling (as a top dropper), the Olive Mayfly, the Klinkhammers, Midge and Buzzer patterns and the Wulffs (grey and royal).


Start of the mayfly for Thomas Lynch


After sunset, Derrysheridan

Brenda Montgomery IFI