Lough Sheelin Angling Report June 1st – June 7th, 2020
“When the evening hatch is over and the day is done, the fisherman doesn’t always have a heavy creel to show for it, but he is richer inside.”
The weather was the single greatest obstacle to successful fishing on Lough Sheelin this week. Scorching heats of 27°C plummeted to lows of 4°C by the weekend with the fishing reflecting these meteorological changes by producing few piscatorial chances for its anglers. After the previous week’s excitement of large mayfly hatches, elaborate entomological aerial dances and corresponding falls of spent on the surface water, the lake this week appeared to rebel, trying its best to break even the most stolid angler, draining instead of supporting with a spirit crushing display of difficult lough fishing.
Although there were still good hatches of the greens, particularly around Crover, Arley Pt. and into Walker’s Bay, dipping temperatures and fresh north easterly winds drove some of these flies into the western shore; on many occasions these same chilly winds stunted the numbers of spent going out and by the weekend it was just too cold to put on a dance and the fly stayed in the bushes.
This lake is the epitome of frustration, there is nothing stereotyped or predictable about this or any wild brown lake and it is this fact, I am assured, that makes it so magical. Being a lapsed angler myself (regrettably due to work and mundane life pressures) I sometimes struggle with the psyche of the angler for despite repeated struggles and blanks, their addiction never wanes and they constantly remind me that this is why Sheelin is so special for ‘if it was easy and predictable then it would soon become rubbish, sure why would you spend your time, energy and money doing something that was easy ?’.
It seems to me, as a reluctant bystander, that you have to have the thinking and analytical ability to go along with the experience for the experience to be of any value and even at that the trout here might not respond.
Going through the week, 5am on Monday trout were mopping up spent in the middle of the lake and a few lovely trout of over 4lbs were recorded. As the day progressed fishing conditions deteriorated and with bright sunshine and crippling heat there was no great rise although there was plenty of fly on the water. A drop in evening temperatures spoilt what would of been dream spent fishing but falls turned out to be patchy with not much movement to what was on the water. There were huge hatches of Murrough but the fish weren’t responding. Tuesday was another very hot day so although there was plenty of spent on the water particularly from Walker’s Bay down to Crover there was no big response from the trout and catches were tricky. At 8.30pm there was a big hatch of greens from Wilsons Point down to Crover but there was no matching fall of spent due to a dip in temperature and an unwelcome chill to changing wind directions. As temperatures dropped further and cold, fresh, strong to gusty northwest winds churned Lough Sheelin angling numbers dropped and although there were some catches on dries it was mainly fishing on the blind using teams of wets. The cold evenings at the weekend effectively killed off any hatches and except in the odd sheltered bay there was a noticeable absence of fly life.
Sheelin was and is undoubtedly alive with all sorts of flies and insects, all potential trout food and for now it is the weather that is having an adverse effect on catches. This was the first week since the mid May where the wet flies made a reappearance up until then it was nearly akin to a criminal offence to mention them as mayfly season is synonymous with dry fly fishing.
Dry fly fishing bring its own special thrill. Fish are comfortable in deep water (particularly in hot weather) and convincing them to break the surface, the edge of an inhospitable environment to take an artificial fly among lots of natural is no small trick. There’s a visceral excitement to seeing the take, in all its forms – a bulging swirl, a violent slash or a barely perceptible sip. The best thing of all is that seeing fish active at the surface erases any uncertainty about whether they are present. You can see them with your own eyes and you can see them feeding, it wipes out the doubting Thomas in us all.
When it comes to trout, dry fly fishing can be a superbly challenging game. Often the fish are ‘keyed in’ on a particular kind of insect, and your fly needs to resemble the natural and to drift to the fish in a natural way. Becoming really good requires stealth, good casting and some knowledge about trout and aquatic insects – hence the continuous inclusion of photographs of a variety of flies and terrestrials in these reports. Although there are times when several kinds of flies can be hatching at once, which makes it tricky to figure out which ones the trout are eating, at this stage of the season, it would be a fairly safe bet to continue on with spent patterns with a consideration to using the odd sedge, daddy or buzzer pattern.
The water for the end of the week was a choppy stretch of greyness with only the odd trout rising for reasons of its own, it was then time to turn back to the wet flies – mayfly stimulators, Claret Bumbles, Golden Olive Bumbles, Kate McLaren, Dabblers (Claret & Silver) and Bibios.
Boating numbers held at 35 -40 per day until the cold set in which radically reduced this to 5 or 6 by Sunday.
86 fish were recorded for the week, with a 7 pounder caught on a Royal Wulff being the weight of the week. There were also three fish weighing in at over 6lbs. Most fish averaged 2 ½ to 3lbs.
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. An unusual ‘white spent’ caught an impressive trout of 8lbs 6oz for its inventor a few weeks back.
The Wulffs were popular this week, with the Grey and Royal landing some 4, 5 and 6lb 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 6pm and ended as the light faded into darkness. During office hours mayfly stimulators, Klinkhammers and a selection of wets sometimes struck gold.
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, Stimulators, Dabblers (Green, Golden Mayfly and International), the Octopus, Welshman’s Button, Chocolate Drop, Muddlers and small dry sedges. The Murrough have their appearance on some evenings but the weather have stalled their hatches.
The best areas for fishing was literally a ‘throw of the dice’ affair with some places fishing well and others being very poor. As one angler put it ‘it’s not even the areas, it could fish well on one end of the boat and very badly at the other’ so much is the unpredictability of this mercurial angling jewel.
The places that produced catches were down 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.
Lough Sheelin Guiding Services (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) 087 1245927
Michael Farrell @ 087 4194156Telephone: +353 43 6681298 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grey Duster Guiding
Tel: 086 8984172 Email: email@example.com
John Mulvany firstname.lastname@example.org 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.