Lough Sheelin, May 9th 2020
Lough Sheelin, May 9th 2020

May 5th – May 10th, 2020

‘To Thine Own Self be true’
(William Shakespeare)

This year’s angling season has been radically knocked askew by the onset of our pandemic – Covid-19.  On March 27th we essentially fell asleep in one world and woke up in another.

Waiting in Lockdown - boats at Kilnahard, May 1st 2020
Waiting in Lockdown – boats at Kilnahard, May 1st 2020

Forced into Spring hibernation, the anglers at Lough Sheelin initially struggled with a 2km distance restriction until the ESB finally closed all of its Shannon waters on April 9th terminating fishing altogether on this lake.  Minimal easing of lockdown on May 5th, included Lough Sheelin reopening, with a 5km limit on travel. July 20th has been tentatively marked as the date when people can move from county to county and so for the majority of anglers this will be D day for them to return here.  The lead up to this date will undoubtedly be painful for those anglers who are forced to stay away but this will not last forever and it is useful to know at what stage the lake is at when returning to fish these great waters.

Ephemera danica (May 6th)
Ephemera danica (May 6th)

April 2020 was recorded as being the driest and sunniest month on record and this resulted in a radical drop in water levels leaving that familiar faded hemline look of grey exposed winter reeds and bleached stones, bordering the lake.  Warm daytime sunshine raised water temperatures to the present 15.6 degrees. Regardless of our viral crises, nature moves on and as April progressed into May, the foaming blossom of blackthorn bushes has now been replaced by the budding and blossoming of whitethorn or may blossom. New growth is already pushing its way over decaying winter vegetation.

Bog cotton at Bog Bay, Lough Sheelin

The Hatches

While we were in lockdown insect life increased dramatically here and the trout moved upwards to surface and sub surface feed.  With the warmth buzzer hatches were (and still are) excellent and anglers could only dream about the great emerger fishing that could of been.  Buzzers are however around all through the season and this type of fishing will be ready and waiting for the returning angler, all he/she must do is to figure out at what stage of the lifecycle of this chironomid the trout are feeding on, for instance July can be excellent for bloodworm fishing in certain silty areas of the lake.

Duckfly pupae
Duckfly pupae
Lough Sheelin's Buzzer
Lough Sheelin’s Buzzer

There were impressive hatches of lake olives towards the end of the month.  I always feel that these dainty little flies are a forerunner to the much acclaimed/exalted ‘mayfly’ .  A member of the same Ephemera family, these beautiful little creatures usually hatch any time from mid April to the end of May.  They are not as big as their cousin, the Mayfly, so generally it’s a size 12 or perhaps a 10.  Their colouration, while mainly olive can be in varying shades, depending on the area they are hatching and also to the light levels on the day.

A beautiful trout caught on a dry Olive pattern
A beautiful trout caught on a dry Olive pattern

The down side to olives is that if the weather is very bright they tend not to hatch, preferring instead darker overcast days or evening light.  Great fishing can be had on all different methods, wet fly, dry fly and nymphing (it cannot be over stressed that for success with nymph fishing, the speed of the retrieve should be as slow as possible and that contact with the flies should be maintained at all times) but I’m assured that to caught a trout on a dry Olive pattern is the ultimate.

'Two's company' - Lake Olive and Apple Green Midge
‘Two’s company’ – Lake Olive and Apple Green Midge

One or two mayfly were first spotted at the beginning of this week at Kilnahard and Crover with a few shucks scattered on the water at Plunkett’s pt.  Numbers increased significantly on Saturday only to become sparse again on Sunday with the onset of cold north easterly winds.  It is still early days here for the Sheelin Mayfly, which normally kicks off mid month and can last till mid June .Weather of course is a big factor and with the promise of more northerly gusts and dipping temperatures the forthcoming week does not bode well for an exciting kick off to this most anticipated part of the fishing season.

Lough Sheelin is alive with potential trout food so along with buzzers, olives and mayflies there are hawthorn flies, terrestrials, apple green midges, damsel flies and a plethora of insects that would take a lifetime to identify .  Following on from these will be the sedges which are reportedly ‘the cream ‘ of the fishing on Sheelin.

The Catches

Gina Tanczos with her beautiful 63cm trout (released)
Gina Tanczos with her beautiful 63cm trout (released)

With the crippling restrictions only a fraction of anglers could fish the lake.  The majority of trout were caught on buzzer patterns.  A total of 21 trout were recorded including two fish measuring in at an impressive 63cm each.

'The Future'
‘The Future’

Best areas were Stony Island, at the back of Church Island, Merry Pt, Inchacup, Chambers Bay and from Kilnahard down to Crover.  Bog Bay, Sailors Garden and into Goreport.

A well conditioned trout caught on a Sooty Olive in Bog Bay
A well conditioned trout caught on a Sooty Olive in Bog Bay

The Flies

With the lures a distant memory it was the buzzer and nymph patterns that took centre stage – the Pheasant Tail Nymph, the Diawl Bach, the Hare’s Ear and Olive Nymph (size 12 & 14).  A combination of an Olive Bumble on the top dropper and two nymphs for the middle dropper and point worked well. The Claret Bumble, the Sooty Olive, Mallard & Claret Nymph, the Bibio, Shuttlecocks, Klinkhammers, Black Buzzers and Silver & Fiery Brown Dabblers.


The humble frog - one of the best indicators of a good clean environment
The humble frog – one of the best indicators of a good clean environment

Go Fishing

House Rules

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.

Catch and release

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


Extra care is needed when playing and releasing trout during periods of high water temperatures as additional stress at these times will decrease the survival rate of hooked and released fish.

 BYE-LAW 949 strictly prohibits:

  • The taking of any brown trout of less than 36 centimetres.
  • For a person to fish with more than 2 rods at any one time.
  • To fish with more than 4 rods at any one time when there is more than one person on board the boat concerned.
  • For a person to take more than 2 trout per day.
  • All trolling on the lake from March 1st to June 16th (inclusive).
  • To fish or to attempt to take or to fish for, fish of any kind other than during the period from March 1st to October 12th in any year.

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…

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services
087 1245927

 Christopher Defillon
[email protected]

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

Grey Duster Guiding
Kenneth O’Keeffe
086 8984172 Email: [email protected]

John Mulvany
[email protected]
086 2490076

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

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

River Inny, Finea
River Inny, Finea


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

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.

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.

'Going Home'
‘Going Home’

It is important for all of us, after this crises is over, to remember that the world continues without us and is very beautiful. It is sending us a message: –

‘You are not necessary.  The air, earth, water and sky without you are fine.  When you come back, remember that you are my guests, not my masters’.