“There is always a storm. There is always rain. Some experience it. Some live through it. And others are made from it.”
Shannon L.Alder

Nico Vindret, France with a wonderful Sheelin trout, April 3rd
Nico Vindret, France with a wonderful Sheelin trout, April 3rd

Now into April, there is an impatience about this month, we want to rid ourselves of everything ‘wintery’ and fast forward into a proper mild spring with some signs of summer, we dream of warm evenings and falls of spent. But nature goes at its own pace and no amount of longing, wishing or wanting by us will speed things along.

Christopher Defillon
Christopher Defillon

Lough Sheelin found it hard to get off the starting block this week. On Monday strong, gusty and fresh southerly winds combined with continuous rain led to non-existent fly life, poor catches and drenched anglers. The weather unarguably influences the fishing, conversely, any weather pattern that lowers the water temperature even by 2 degrees often results in a poor days fishing. The week progressed more or less in the same mode with cold cloudy weather and dark choppy waters. It didn’t help that Lough Corrib reported exciting hatches of duck fly progressing to olives while Sheelin being closer to the North struggled with its fly hatches.

The Hatches…

From a fisherman’s perspective Spring is a long, unpredictable and changeable season where there seems to be no middle ground – some days are positively spring like with a welcome heat in the sun whereas others are as gloomy as can be but it is the wind that is the real enemy. A cold north or east wind effectively chills down the surface film, killing off any hatches and send emerging nymphs back down to wait for another more inviting day. But regardless of temperature, (unless its subzero) you are going to find small swarms of buzzers or midges in the sheltered areas so even on a fairly cold day, these little chironomids rising close to the surface and into the air, will be in evidence in those places cushioned from exposure to the elements – inlets, coves and at the back of islands. Buzzers account for 50% of a trout’s diet so shouldn’t be dismissed in the wait for the more serious hatches of duck fly and olives.

Lough Sheelin’s duckfly
Lough Sheelin’s duckfly

Early April is not a time for dry fly fishing on this lake, it’s all about the wet flies and of course the lures are still in there. The lure fishing has admittedly slipped a notch and success rates fell as the trout are moving up from bottom feeding into the middle water columns. Despite the cold, Thursday saw good hatches of fly along the western shore with an encouraging number of trout pitching – seemingly Lough Sheelin is gradually coming to life for its fly anglers but we need heat, a number of days of consistent warm and zero nightly frosts which we are, for now, just not getting. Much as anglers want the trout to be coming up for fly there just isn’t enough to entice them up, there is still no surface menu here.

The French have the knack – Romain guided by Christopher Defillon with a Sheelin classic
The French have the knack – Romain guided by Christopher Defillon with a Sheelin classic

A bit about buzzers…

The buzzer eggs are directly laid on to reeds or weeds, they eventually hatch into larva which change over time and mutate into the pupa and it is the pupa stage which the trout feed heavily on. The buzzer pupa comes in a variety of colours but black, brown or green are the most common. This pupa swims from the bottom of the lake up to the surface to hatch, often making several journeys before finally choosing to hatch. During this time they are often stationary, suspended in mid water and easy prey for the now zone feeding cruising trout. In order to make their ascent to the surface, the pupa fills air sacks within their skin for buoyancy. It is these air sacks that give the pupa a silvery appearance so when making pupa patterns using a white flex floss stretched over the tying thread and then coating in a clear varnish can be a good way to mimic there.

Christopher Defillon (evasionpecheirlande@gmail.com)
Christopher Defillon ([email protected])

When hatching the pupa sits suspended in the water’s surface – the emerger. A trout breaking the surface in a classic head and tail rise is likely to be attempting to take this fly at the emerging stage of the life cyle.

Kevin Sheridan
The golden rule when fishing buzzers is to fish them slowly.

The Catches…

This week there were 38 trout reported to the office. The heaviest fish for the week was a trout of 7lbs caught by Northern Ireland angler Michael Travers using a Silver Humungus on a di3.

The magical and mystery of a Lough Sheelin trout (Gina Tanczos)
The magical and mystery of a Lough Sheelin trout (Gina Tanczos)

Dublin angler Frank Shortt reported that his trout caught using a 3 fly buzzer set up which included a Diawl Bach was stuffed with a mass of small, wriggly things which were indubitably buzzer pupae so buzzer fishing is always an option on this lake.

Cathal McNaughton, Antrim – 3lbs 10oz trout
Cathal McNaughton, Antrim – 3lbs 10oz trout

As this season progresses the Sheelin trout are moving upwards in the water column. Areas that fished well very early season are drawing blanks now while other previously quiet locations are producing fish.  Good areas this week were along the Western Shore, Chambers, Kilnahard, Plunketts point, Inchacup and Captains Bay, each day being dependent on wind direction.

Undeterred by Lough Sheelin’s unrelenting cold – Christopher Defillon
Undeterred by Lough Sheelin’s unrelenting cold – Christopher Defillon

 Selection of Catches            

  • Seamus Norris, Dublin – 1 trout at 2lbs on a Claret Bumble, fishing the western shore, April 6th.
  • Nico Vindret guided by Christopher Defillon – 8 trout for the week, averaging 3½ – 4lbs on lures on fast sink lines
  • Manta Smaticeks, Dublin – 2 trout, both over 50cm pulling wets.
  • George Goodwin, Trim – 1 trout at 2lbs using a Fiery Brown Dabbler on a di3.
A one pounder
A one pounder

The Flies…

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 and the Sooty Olive.

A little knowledge of the life cycle of insect life gives an angler a great advantage when choosing the fly team to use (hence the earlier buzzer lifecycle lecture earlier in this report). The latin names aren’t important but observation is. I find fly anglers at this point of the season to be slightly on the defensive, abit like they have been wrong footed in some way and that the lure anglers have somehow stolen a march on them by catching some superb trout which they, up to this point have struggled to do. Out on the lake mid-week when a nasty northerly wind clipped across this surface was a point in case as I talked to a fly angler, I observed that there was no fly life to which he immediately replied that there was loads and when gently quizzed on this, he answered with some pride that he’d seen ‘one nymph thingy’ at the back of Church Island. It’s hard not to feel for the fly anglers, we are five weeks into the season, seemingly every other trout lake in Ireland is shouting about their wonderful fly life and trout takes and Sheelin is moving at snail’s pace except for the lure fishing which is producing some seriously beautiful fish. No one should ever underestimate Lough Sheelin because although a tough place to fish, this is a lake where dreams can become realities, for Sheelin contains substantial trout who although do not give themselves easily when they are caught either on fly or lure give the angler a memory that will not be easily forgotten, such is the weight and beauty of a Sheelin trout.

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

A double release
A double release

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: [email protected]

Christopher Defillon
Tel:  085 964369  Email: [email protected]
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.defillon

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

John Mulvany
[email protected] 086 2490076

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

Michael Farrell
Tel: 087 4194156 or  +353 43 6681298
Email: [email protected]

Michael Flanagan,
Trout and Pike Guide.
Email: [email protected] Web: www.midlandangling.com

Guide Fishing Ireland   www.guidefishingireland.com


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.


“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson