‘Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see’.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

‘This was the hardest mayfly season ever’ – words echoed over the past weeks by many a Sheelin angler but don’t misconstrue this sentence, it may well have been the hardest but it certainly has not been the worst. Now into mid-June there is still the guts of another week left in the mayfly season here.  The hawthorn or May blossom may have faded, weighed down now by great trusses of the beginnings of berries but this season’s exuberance of insect life on Sheelin sees no end.

The Hatches

There were great hatches of mayfly particularly around Derrysheridan and off Derry point and spent drifting across the lake in substantial quantities at different times during the afternoons and evenings of this week.

Thomas McMullan with his Sheelin trout
Thomas McMullan with his Sheelin trout

The angling holiday makers have long since left the lake but what remains are a steady number of the locals as well as our Northern Ireland friends, those who have caravans, mobile homes or acquaintance’s houses which resulted in twenty or more anglers fishing Lough Sheelin on most days. With the angling numbers dwindling somewhat, naturally the number of fish caught took a corresponding nose dive.

Lough Sheelin’s pulchritudinous
Lough Sheelin’s pulchritudinous

It is still a brilliant time entomology speaking to be out on this lake and it is still all about our mayfly – Ephermera danica. If you think of evolution as maximizing one’s imperative to pass on genes and continue the species for another generation, then mayflies must be the most highly evolved species in existence. Their sole purpose (because they have no mouth parts) is to reproduce and die – so regardless of their graceful aerial beauty they have a short and sad life reflected in their name which derived from the Greek ephermeros means ‘lasting only one day, short- lived’.

Lough Sheelin’s Mayfly
Lough Sheelin’s Mayfly

Winds and heavy rainfall put a halt to mating dances and falls of spent, as mayfly huddled close inshore among the bushes and sometimes dying there in their wait for the elusive conducive ‘dancing’ weather. The spent when they did fall drifted like some surreal elaborate surface decoration made of intrinsically woven wings spread prostate on the surface film.

Soaking up the very last of the may blossom
Soaking up the very last of the may blossom

Fishing aside, our mayfly is very photographic and conscious that the numbers of these very beautiful creatures will start to diminish rapidly from now on, well the temptation to photograph Lough Sheelin’s main attraction can be difficult to resist.

The Catches

A trout of over 4lbs caught on a dry Mayfly at the back of Church Island
A trout of over 4lbs caught on a dry Mayfly at the back of Church Island gets released

The weather, of course, had a crucifying effect on the fishing when on some days this lake was subjected to strong North westerlies followed by deluges of rain which effectively killed off any sport. Thursday evening was a point in case where fish had started to rise to the spent and then we were subjected to bucketing rain which pressed the off button for the rest of that day. There were times when things where shaping up nicely and then wind direction would abruptly change and it would be game over. When conditions were ‘fishing friendly’ there were a nice number of trout moving to the spent and some decent fish were caught.

Paul O’Reilly, Dublin with one for the future
Paul O’Reilly, Dublin with one for the future


Total number of trout recorded: 63

Day time fishing was mainly wet fly fishing with Dabblers, Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, Bumbles and Humpies being particularly effective. Using an Orange Stimulator as a top dropper during those office hours worked well for one Dublin angler as he landed himself a 5 lb trout at Crover using this set up.  Goslings, French Partridge, Denis Mosses Ginger Mayfly along with Nymph patterns as well as an angler’s own personal green mayfly tyings worked for some.  With the continual changing winds and downpours dry fly fishing proved tricky although a few fish were taken on dries, but these were few and far between and the numbers could have been counted on one hand.

Cal Healy, Mallow, Cork with his 66cm fish (
Cal Healy, Mallow, Cork with his 66cm fish (

The heaviest fish for this week was a 6 ½ lb trout caught by Thomas Lynch using a Spent Gnat pattern

Selection of Catches

  • Andrew Dale, South Wales – 1 trout at 3lbs on a Spent Gnat pattern, June 5th.
  • Thomas Lynch, Cavan – 2 trout at 5 ½ and 6 ½ lbs caught on Spent patterns at the back of Church Island and in Rusheen
  • Thomas Harten, Cavan – 2 trout at 63 and 66 cm on Spent Gnat patterns.
  • Joe Heffernan, Northern Ireland – 2 trout at 3lbs (on spent) and 2lbs on wet fly.
  • John Malcom, Wexford – 3 trout, heaviest at 5 ½ lbs on a Royal Wulff.
  • Lawrence Hickey, Dublin – 1 trout at 56cm on a wet Mayfly pattern.
  • Cal Healy, Mallow, Co.Cork – 1 trout at 66cm using wet fly patterns.
  • David Forster, Dublin – 2 trout at 3 ½ and 3lbs caught using Stimulators and Gorgeous George fishing around Stoney Islands.
  • Joe Cassidy, Northern Ireland – 3 trout heaviest at 5lbs using Spent Gnat patterns fishing around Crover.

Now heading into mid-June, the mayfly will soon be replaced by the sedge fishing which is often thought of in the angling world as the cream of the fishing season. A few fish were caught on the Great Red Sedge or Murrough in the evening and beyond nightfall but we are only at the very start of this next insect progression here so these have not yet featured on the trout’s menu sheet.  The mayfly will soon be appropriated by a plethora of trout food which will keep the trout angler on high alert and will necessitate him ‘matching the hatch’ and really studying the natural food out there but really this is what true fly fishing is all about.  The Caddis flies or sedges have over 12000 described species, all of these of course aren’t present on Sheelin but sometimes it feels as if they are as in the weeks to come the angler will be met with all sorts of grey and brown varieties, the Murrough and Green Peter are the most easily identified and the rest I find are just vaguely classified as ‘a little brown sedge’.  Of course as well as this feast ahead of the angler there will be Alder flies, Hawthorns, Daddy Long Legs and all sorts of terrestrials  blown on to the water from the nearby shoreline.

The Flies


The artificial patterns that worked best where all the spent patterns particularly the spent gnat patterns in black with a small amount of red woven in at the tail. The Wulffs similar to last week worked their magic with three trout of over 5lbs being caught on the Royal variation of this tying.  Gink up the Wulff with a floatant, enough to make this fly sit in the top film and drag it slowly is the best way.  The Wulffs imitate the spents and these in their natural form in the last throes of death are fairly static on the water’s surface so avoid a ‘chuck and duck’ tactic as this will simply lead to a disappearance act from the trout.  The Fox Squirrel Spent using a ghost tip along with a second fly with some sparkle woven through proved good as well as a predominantly black coloured spent imitation with some glow bright on the tail.

Claret Dabbler - Kevin Sheridan
Claret Dabbler – Kevin Sheridan

The most successful flies this week were the Mayfly nymph patterns, wet Mayfly patterns in greens with mixes of brown and white mingled through, the Mosley Mays, the French Partridge, the Goslings, Dennis Moss’s Ginger Mayfly, Soft Hackle Mayfly Emergers, CDC Mayfly Emergers, the Wulffs (grey and royal), the Spent Gnat patterns (a predominance of black worked best). Other patterns catching fish were the Dabblers (Claret, Green and Silver), Stimulators and Bumbles (Golden and Cock Robin).

cdc murrough
CDC Murrough – Kevin Sheridan

Go fishing…

A permit is required to fish Lough Sheelin. Buy your permit online at: or from any of the permit distributors listed here.

House Rules

A catch & release policy is actively encouraged on the lake at all times.
2.75 lbs caught at Crover on a Spent Gnat pattern

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

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: +33 68 596 4369  Email: [email protected]

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services
Tel: 087 1245927 Web:

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:


We would implore anglers and all other users to wear life jackets for their own safety as well as it being the law.

Getting it right – Caoimhe & Oisin Sheridan
Getting it right – Caoimhe & Oisin Sheridan

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.

Please put on and keep on that life jacket until you are back on dry land.

‘Crover’ (Kevin Sweeney)