Lough Sheelin Angling Report: May 25th – May 31st, 2020

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

W.B. Yeats

The latin name for the mayfly is Ephemera danica. The definition of ephemera is ‘things that exist or are enjoyed for only a short time’. So, although this sums up the lifespan of an adult mayfly perfectly it could also be applied to the numerous anglers who appear in their droves to fish Lough Sheelin when this magical fly has made its appearance, apparently trying to cram in as many good fishing hours as possible. This is a time of opportunity and hope, the hope of catching that leviathan that has overwintered from last season balanced off, of course, with the possibility of being outwitted again. Whatever happens it is a truly special time to be out on this water. There is nothing quite like watching those large majestic flies suddenly disappear as the neb of one of Lough Sheelin’s heavy weights breaks the surface in a truly heart stopping moment.

Spent on the water

The fact that mayflies are important to anglers obviously shows that they are even more important to fish. In fact they are a vital component of the overall ecology of the freshwater systems they still survive in. Mayfly nymphs are particularly sensitive to pollution so the apparent large abundance in Sheelin is good news for all.

Mayfly nymph

The Mayfly season is such a glorious time to be out on the water and Lough Sheelin is very hard to resist, with its heavy trout and large hatches of this special and much coveted insect.

Angling averaged 35 -40 boats per day with the bulk going out in the evenings, usually after 6pm.

The weather held the steering wheel on all the fishing this week and hatches, falls of spent and ultimately rises of trout were all influenced by temperature, wind and sun. Mediterranean heats of 20 to 27 degrees dominated the days and when this warmth stretched into the evening spent falls were plentiful, carpeting certain areas of the lake and inducing a heart stopping rise of fish. Anglers don’t get to choose the weather for their fishing expeditions and we can’t abandon the rest of our lives just because fishing conditions are optimal so contrary weather and just being in the wrong place at the wrong time is just something that has to be lived with.

Wilson’s Point at sunset

Lough Sheelin is a very hard lake to write about because there is nothing predictable about this moody stretch of trout water, there are no rules, no definite ‘great fishing spots’ and while one angler could report a great fishing evening, another could blank. This is a wild brown trout lake, there is nothing tame or controlled about the fish here so the importance of observation and studying the environs are crucial and even then you mightn’t get it right.

Lough Sheelin this week as they say in Cavan was ‘a barrel load of contradictions’. Angling reports were full of conflicting information and it was hard to find a sameness about any one day. All anglers reported Monday evening as being tough due to a drop in evening temperatures and a chilly wind, although earlier in the day saw a ‘spectacular’ drift of spent with lots of trout rising to them. The steep rise in temperatures produced unforgiving day time fishing conditions for all days this week but nonetheless some fish were caught on dry Mayfly patterns and a few on nymphs. Tuesday fished well in the very early evening but a crazy fall of spent resulted in too much fly on the water from 8pm onwards which made fishing trickier. Mirror calm conditions didn’t help matters as by nightfall the lake’s surface had become one continuous slick and spent falls were patchy, so the satisfaction of catching the heaviest trout of the week at 8lbs was surreal.

Despite the tropical day time heat there was abit of sport to be had in the sheltered sandy coves around the bays in Merry Pt. where small trout were feeding on a plethora of surface fly. A few nice trout were caught using weighted nymphs at Wilsons pt.

Playing a fish in the tropics

Wednesday was literally a mixed bag with anglers generally reporting that fishing was hard, some boats had fish and some did not. The show of trout was frustratingly bad considering the amount of fly but the blowing up of a north wind at dusk turned things on its head producing far from ideal conditions. After dark winds changed and things became more comfortable with many anglers reporting that the fish hardly moved at all until the light faded into dark.

The waiting game

The rest of the week saw some lovely trout of 2, 3, 4 and 5lb plus being landed but all these success were punctuated with the words ‘it depended where you were on the lake’.

Friday evening which seemed like dream spent gnat fishing conditions was very disappointing for all the anglers who fished in the Gaffney’s to Rusheen area while a slick off Derry pt. produced some fantastic catches for others. But as one philosophical angler reminded me ‘you can’t have the cream each and every day and a bad night only makes the next successful session all the sweeter’, coupled with this polite theory there are also those anglers who return simply for revenge……….

We can have all the theories in the world about how to fish or not to fish Lough Sheelin but ultimately this lake has the last say and the only thing predictable about here is its unpredictability.

157 trout were recorded for this week, with the heaviest trout topping the scales at slightly over 8lbs caught on a Spent Gnat pattern.

Trout caught averaged 2½ – 3½lbs with an impressive scattering of 4 to 7 pounders in the mix.

Most fish were caught using a wide variety of spent gnat patterns.  The most successful spent patterns were those that were dressed so that they lay close to and quite flat on the surface of the water. Davie McPhail’s Spent gnat mayfly pattern is made from 4mm white ethafoam and has a segmented body, so it looks like the real thing and stays afloat all day.  It is a little on the fiddly side to tie as it has a detached body, but it works brilliantly and looks spectacular.

The Wulffs were popular this week, with the Grey and Royal landing some 4 and 5lb fish.  Whereas the Grey Wulf has some sort similarity to the spent gnat, the Royal has no resemblance to the natural whatsoever. This is an attractor pattern and a descendant of both the Royal Coachman fly and the Wulff style of hair wing flies named for Lee Wulff.  Presumably this pattern’s ‘stand out in the crowd’ appearance causes the trout to pick it out from the multitude of spent lying prostrate on the surface water.

Spent Gnat fishing usually kicked off after 5pm and ended as the light faded into darkness.  During office hours mayfly nymphs and a selection of dry fly Mays did the business.

Although now is predominantly about the mayfly there are also plenty of other potential trout food out there – terrestrials, caenis, apple green midges, buzzers and the appearance at the later end of the week of the largest sedge our ‘after dark’ specimen – the Murrough.

The fish success this week were mostly using spent and mayfly patterns with traditional patterns featuring in the returns – Wulffs (Grey, Royal, Green and Yellow),  Emerging Mayfly, Melvin May, Ginger & Olive May, Goslings, Mosley May, French Partridge, Green Drake, Cock Robin with Claret Bumbles, Golden Olive Bumbles, Bibios, Klinkhammers, dry Buzzers (sizes 8-12), Grey Duster (size 10), Spent Gnat patterns, Dabblers (Green, Golden Mayfly and International), the Octopus, Welshman’s Button, Chocolate Drop, Muddlers and small dry sedges.

Resting up

The best areas for fishing was all down to wind direction and dips in temperatures but the areas that fished best were along the Western shore of the lake, Stony Island, at the back of Church Island, Merry Pt, Wilsons pt, Inchacup, Chambers Bay and from Kilnahard down to Crover, Crane Island,  Bog Bay, Sailors Garden and into Goreport, Lynch’s Pt, Derrysheridan and Derry Pt.


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

Please remember anglers to abide by BYE-LAW 949 which strictly prohibits from June 14th 2017 onwards:

  • The taking of any brown trout of less than 36 centimeters.
  • 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.

Guides and Ghillies                    

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) 087 1245927

 Christopher Defillon 

[email protected] (+33685964369) evasionpecheirlande.net


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


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.

Sheelin evening