“I look into … my fly box, and think about all the elements I should consider in choosing the perfect fly: water temperature, what stage of development the bugs are in, what the fish are eating right now. Then I remember what a guide told me: ‘Ninety percent of what a trout eats is brown and fuzzy and about five-eighths of an inch long.’
~by Allison Moir,

 ‘Going fishing’ Caoimhe and Oisin Sheridan on Sheelin
‘Going fishing’ Caoimhe and Oisin Sheridan on Sheelin

Glancing through Ireland’s angling news flashes this week, from the great Western lakes and down to Lough Derg, reports were excitedly coming in declaring the arrival and progression of the mayfly (even rumours of spent fishing on Derg!).

There are regrettably no such glorious announcements for Lough Sheelin, simply due to the fact that there has been neither ‘hide nor hair’ of Ephemeroptera dancia on this lake over the past seven days. There have, of course, been plenty of rumours of definite sightings of one or two but nothing substantiated so it was all down to wishful thinking and Lough Sheelin finished another week where anglers focused on buzzer and nymph fishing – pulling teams of wets and battling the challenging conditions.

The comforting consistency of guide Christopher Defillon on Sheelin
The comforting consistency of guide Christopher Defillon on Sheelin

The week gone by was a difficult and frustrating one for anglers because of the persistent north east to easterly winds which stubbornly dogged this lake every day with little or no reprieve. Thursday was particularly painful where white horses skidded along the surface water and access from the Kilnahard/Chambers side and crossing the lake was treacherous.  Bright sunny days and crashing night time temperatures (sometimes as low as 1 degree) guaranteed that any anglers who did catch fish were simply in the right place at the right time – when the wind slackened, the area was sheltered and the trout happened to be feeding.  One angler informed me reliably that the only fly that was working was the one called ‘lucky’.

The Hatches

There is a palatable restlessness among anglers here, we are pushing through May and that word is synonymous of colossal hatches of mayfly with corresponding takes from trout averaging 2 ½ lb and upwards. I remember one year when there was an ‘unofficial’ 8lb club on Sheelin during the mayfly, which reflected the numbers of anglers catching that weight and upwards.

The waiting game – no sign of mayfly on Sheelin yet
The waiting game – no sign of mayfly on Sheelin yet

Suppressing impatience/panic and in some cases despair, we are where we are and rest assured Lough Sheelin’s mayfly will not disappoint, these mystical insects will arrive at their own pace, happily ignoring our calendars/timetables and holidays booked.

But for now it’s a waiting game.

The Catches

Despite the weather, it is rare that this lake is unfishable and there were good pockets of buzzer fishing, isolated to low light conditions in the late evenings, in the reflection of a dying sunset and exclusive to the very sheltered areas.

Danny Murray, Dublin with his 58cm trout (guided by Lough Sheelin Guiding
Danny Murray, Dublin with his 58cm trout (guided by Lough Sheelin Guiding

Water levels are very low at the moment, resulting in a distinct border of the dry broken remnants of last year’s growth, looking for all the world like a washed out greyish/white hemline. Grouse bushes provide a flush of gold as a shoreline backdrop, the swallows have returned and our cuckoo has taken up its yearly spot in Bog Bay (driving some anglers drawing blanks, mad by its persistent early morning calling).

Gary McKiernan of Lough Sheelin Guiding with the weight of the week, a 62cm trout
Gary McKiernan of Lough Sheelin Guiding with the weight of the week, a 62cm trout

The best fish for this week was a trout of 62 cm caught by Sheelin guide Gary McKiernan (Lough Sheelin Guiding) on a team of wets and the total number of trout reported to the office was 27. 

Selection of Catches            

  • Martin McCoy – 2 trout at 2 ½ and almost 3 on a Buzzer, May 1st
  • Stuart Marry, Dublin – 1 trout at 3lbs on a Buzzer, May 1st
  • Matt McCreevy, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 2 ½ lbs on a Greenwell’s Glory at Derrahorn.
  • Pat Brady, Cavan – 1 trout at 2lbs in Chambers using a Golden Olive Bumble.

The most popular areas for Buzzer fishing is along the eastern shore, from Curry point right down along the shore line and into the Sailor’s Garden which takes in Ross, Derrysheridan, Corru Bay, Goreport and Derrahorn. As I’m writing about the most successful areas for fishing I am also very conscious of two things, the first thing is that the rule on Sheelin is that every day is different and that this lake is full of fish in every area but secondly that once anglers hear of a good fishing ‘spot’ they all head there producing a clutter of boats in the one area and a bit of a tangle.  With the busiest time of the fishing season here – the mayfly, fast approaching this brings me onto a prickly but necessary topic and that is a prudent reminder of the importance of angling etiquette on this lake.

Etiquette on the water

Etiquette from the dictionary is defined ‘as the customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group’. Remembering this eloquent definition I would impress on all anglers to be mindful of others and to refrain from driving their boat too close, cutting across drifts or indeed using excessive speed on this lake (the 2008 Watercraft Bye Law enforced by Cavan Council states no more than 5.75 mph within the Cavan section of Lough Sheelin).

Courtesy and consideration to others costs nothing and Lough Sheelin is a big lake, full of fish that aren’t going anywhere and there is room for everyone.

Lough Sheelin’s Swan Mussel
Lough Sheelin’s Swan Mussel with a Zebra cutting in…

The Flies

Poor daytime conditions meant a tough slog for anglers, limiting them to pulling teams of wets, where basically if you were lucky enough to come across a fish looking up any artificial would stimulate a take. A big Dabbler on the point – Sooty Olives, Golden Olive Bumbles, Claret & Mallard, Greenwells Glory – all the old favourites stood a chance depending strongly on the element of luck.

Greenwell’s Glory (tied by Kevin Sheridan) invented by James Tweed has been used for over 150 years and is a great fly when the Olives are hatching, particularly good on Sheelin in early May.

The catch records for this week were almost solely dependent on the evening/night fishing and for this the buzzer was the main player. Not a popular time to fish particularly due to the temperatures drops but for those who persisted some lovely trout were caught on buzzer patterns in black, grey and dark olives colours.  Epoxy Buzzers and the Buzzer wet fly imitations like the Sooty Olives and Black Pennells got results whereas the emerger imitations like the Shipman’s or Shuttlecock were good followed by the Grizzle Gnat imitating the emerged fly achieved moderate successes.  This wasn’t really a week for the dries due to the cold and prevailing easterly winds but the wet fly patterns and emergers kept Sheelin’s flag flying in a cold and tricky angling week.

Golden Olive Bumble
Golden Olive Bumble, Kevin Sheridan

The most successful flies this week were the teams of wets, predominantly Buzzer imitations on di 3, intermediate and in some cases floating lines with a sink tip. A size 12 – 14 dry Buzzer pattern proved successful as well as suspended Buzzers, CDC Buzzers Shipman’s and Shuttlecock and Klinkhammers. Other good flies were 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.

‘The waiting game’
‘The waiting game’

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.

House Rules

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

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
Catch and release
Catch and release

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


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

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.

Lough Sheelin
Lough Sheelin