Casting out

Lough Sheelin Angling Report June 8th – June 14th, 2020

‘Fly-fishing is solitary, contemplative, misanthropic, scientific in some hands, poetic in others, and laced with conflicting aesthetic considerations.  It’s not even clear if catching fish is actually the point’

John Gierach

Low pressure was the driving force behind the weather pattern for this week, producing challenging fishing conditions of below normal temperatures and fresh and blustery north east to westerly winds. Angling numbers dwindled as the unfavourable meteorological conditions persevered which was matched by sparse rises of trout.

Last Monday, June 8th saw further easing of Covid restrictions which included an increase on travel of up to 20km, freeing up more anglers to fish Lough Sheelin but seemingly the trout here went into their own lockdown, staying down deep and refusing to surface.

Hope springs eternal

The Irish have a rather unusual affection for the weather, it is one thing we love to hate and has us continually checking what’s in store when we could pretty much guess that it’s going to be ‘partially cloudy with scattered showers’, generally it’s the hope and anticipation of what’s going to happen that keeps us glued to what Met Eireann has to say. But weather is that bit more important to the trout angler as weather is everything with brown trout and for this week it caused a seriously negative blip in what has been, up to now, some pretty good fly fishing.

Lough Sheelin’s mayfly season naturally tapers off around the middle of June but nonetheless there were still some hatches of the greens and some dances particularly around Crover and in Walker’s Bay although the fall of spent was sparse with a poor response from the trout as evening temperatures dropped and wind directions and speed continually changed tying the anglers here into knots of frustration.

The last of the mohicans

Going through the week, on Monday between 4 – 6pm when there was some heat from the sun, plenty of fly went out and some good trout catches were recorded. It was a narrow window which was missed by our office workers as evening temperatures crashed to as low as 4°C with a corresponding lack of surface fly and our piscatorial friends going into aquatic hibernation. There were some hatches of Murrough but no response from the fish.  Tuesday mirrored Monday in that there was a good hatch of mayfly between 4 – 6pm with an odd fish moving but the evening became cold and bleak and although there was a nice mix of fly life around 10pm there was poor interest from the trout.  Similarly there were some reasonable numbers of caenis off Kilnahard shore but no fish on them. Some catches were recorded for Wednesday when there were moderate north westerly winds blowing but the majority of success were restricted to before 6pm and a downpour around 9pm effectively pulled the plug of optimism for all anglers as the odd take on the murrough just stopped. The gulls here were working hard, hammering any fly before they even got into the bushes. The rest of the week was plagued with night chills, changing wind directions and bright hot sunny days which made fishing here extremely challenging.

Contradictory as it might sound Lough Sheelin is entering a very exciting phase, the ‘cream of the crop’ in the fishing calendar – the sedges. Most if not all anglers I know use the term sedge but interestingly in Terry Hellekson’s book ‘The Encyclopedia Of The Fly Tier’s Art’, he refutes the use of this word by saying ‘you might hear caddisflies mistakenly referred to as ‘sedge’ flies.  Sedge is actually a marsh plant. Its application to the caddis might have originated from the fact that the adult caddis often cling to sedge grass along the water’s edge. I will be happy to lead the campaign to eliminate the term ‘sedge’ from any reference connection to the caddis fly’. This is an entomologist’s view and undoubtedly the correct one but for simplicity we will stick to the name sedge.

Murrough and mayfly

Huge emphasis has always been put on the mayfly and mistakenly way down the line comes the underappreciated caddisfly or sedge. Perhaps it is because Ephemera danica presents a more picturesque profile as compared to the caddisfly which is not the most beautiful or delicate of bugs. Of all the aquatic insects that fish have to forage on, caddisflies are the most abundant of them all. Caddis are part of the Trichoptera group of insects, with over 14,500 species recorded with thankfully only 20 for Sheelin or we would all get horribly confused. Adults are moth-like insects with hairy wings which are folded back along the body. Unlike moths, they have a fine set of hairs on their wings instead of scales. Some species, like the Grousewing (common in Sheelin, where huge numbers hatched last Monday) have very long antennae. Sedge flies go through egg, larva, pupa and winged adult stages, all stages of which are potential food to a cruising trout. Most caddis larvae dwell in cases they construct for protection. These ingenious little sedge larvae might be the world’s first carpenters and stonemasons.

A cased Caddis made from shells

These case builders generally construct their portable homes from fine gravel, sand, twigs, vegetation or other debris found at the bottom of the lake. The photograph in this report shows the insightful use of shells meticulously arranged for their outer protective wall. Most sedges hatch during the evening and at night time and unlike mayflies they don’t spend much time hanging around the surface after changing from pupa to adult. It is when the adults return to the water to lay their eggs, often skittering across the water’s surface that some exciting angling moments can be enjoyed. The traditional sign that the trout are on sedge is a slashing rise so using an Elk Hair Caddis skittering them across the surface can sometimes provoke a violent rise.

A good hatch of Grousewing sedge on June 8th

We are at the cusp of the sedge fishing but there is lots going on besides the sedges, there were good hatches of caenis in Kilnahard and West of Church Island, trout are feeding on daphnia in the open water, there are still the remnants of the mayfly season so that’s the greens as well as the spent, the buzzers are there in sheltered warmer bays and there are the terrestrials (beetles, moths, daddy long legs and a variety of flies). The fish have also started to feed on the pinheads – roach and perch fry. Water temperature at 16°C are a little high for good surface trout feeding.

Although this week was the epitome of frustration there is a lot to look forward on this lake – long warm days, lots of trout, plenty of fly life and where nature is bursting a gut to put on a show.

22 trout were recorded for this week, with the heaviest trout at slightly over 4lbs caught using a Spent Gnat pattern at Holywell.

Trout caught averaged 2½ – 3½lbs .

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.

Fishing the greens and spent usually happened in late afternoon and ended around 6pm. The sedges made their appearance at dusk but the numbers were sparse.

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, Grey Flags, 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, Stimulators, Dabblers (Green, Golden Mayfly and International), the Octopus, Welshman’s Button, Chocolate Drop, Muddlers and small dry sedges. There were some good hatches of Murrough but due to the unfavourable weather, the trout showed little interest.

The places that produced catches were down along the Western shore of the lake, Stony Island, at the back of Church Island, Merry Pt., Wilson’s pt, Inchacup, Chambers Bay and from Kilnahard down to Crover, Crane Island, Bog Bay, and 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 

John O’Grady releasing his fish

 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.

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services ( 087 1245927

 Christopher Defillon 

[email protected] (+33685964369)

Michael Farrell @ 087 4194156Telephone: +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

 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.

Into the night, Sheelin, June 11th