‘We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars’

Oscar Wilde


It has been another one of those weeks – difficult, discouraging and disappointing.  Since the start of the season the angling here has followed a dismally familiar pattern which encompasses sporadic catches, hit and miss locations and blank unresponsive waters.  There are, however, two consolations here, the first one being that it seems that most trout lakes are going through the same challenging times and secondly we are heading in the right direction i.e. towards a month that will be abundant with trout food and stimulating conditions of warmth and that special light conducive to trout rising.  Many anglers who have a lifetime experience of fishing on Lough Sheelin believe that nothing really happens here until the end of April and although boat jetties have been filling up rapidly over the past week or two, the quiet anglers, those who have an in-depth knowledge of Lough Sheelin with all its quirks and oddities are waiting patiently, at most they are taking their boats out for a trial run, perhaps casting a line but for the main part they are just biding their time.

Facing west

The weather this week was harsh for angling.  Winds veered from moderate to fresh with the undesirable east always twinning the variable south and north directions.  Saturday turned into a ‘white horses’ day with a brisk north east wind clipping across the lake putting a chilly edge to the sunshine.  The softness isn’t there yet and the cloud cover is falling short.  Water temperatures have finally risen to above 10 degrees with the surface registering at 11.43 and the bottom (12.5metres) at 11.23.  This rise in temperature is good for getting the insects down below moving towards their eventual adult status.

Going for gold

It is easy to get confused as anglers often refer incorrectly to nymph fishing as buzzer fishing when buzzers do not have a nymph stage in their development and really it is the pupae stage they are referring to.  Very few of us are entomologists but the easiest way to remember this is that the insects that go through a larval stage undergo completed metamorphosis in becoming adults, and those that go through a nymphal stage undergo incomplete metamorphosis.  As an angler, this means that nymphs generally look like the adults of that species whereas larva look a lot different from the corresponding adult.  Even more basically speaking, the more insect looking ones are the nymphs and the more wormy looking ones are the larva.  Caddis flies and buzzers don’t have nymphs they have larvae and pupae, whereas mayflies, stoneflies, alderflies, dragonflies and damselflies all have true nymphs (olives are included in the mayfly category).

Lining up
Reflecting on you – a newly hatched Damselfly, shuck below

That is the scientific bit but to add further confusion to the matter, nymphing is a general term used to describe a wet fly that represents subaquatic insects, so from a collection of angling data point of view and to avoid tying myself into a total knot this is what we will stick with.  Nymph flies are intentionally designed to look like immature insects in a juvenile or larval stage.  Many types of insects spend more time in the nymph stage of development than the adult.  It is estimated that 75% – 90% of a trout’s diet consists of nymphs so they make up a big part in the diet sheet.  The most common insects that are eaten are the nymphs (mayflies, olives and stoneflies), pupa (caddis flies and buzzers) and emergers.

Holding it together

With the increase in water temperature, all these insects will begin to move and paralleling their rise in the water column will be the trout.  Trout catches were sparse throughout the week and the bulk of the results fell to anglers using nymph and buzzer patterns.  The weight of the week was by Larry Moley with a 7lb trout caught on a nymph pattern followed by another close to 5lbs again on nymph fishing around Derrysheridan.

Crippling along – a female buzzer
Buzzer dimensions

Daytime temperatures rose, triggering good hatches of buzzers from mid-day to late evening.  There are rumours that the Campto buzzer will soon be hatching off, this pupa is huge compared to the more usual buzzer and it’s pretty much impossible to fish a buzzer that’s too large to imitate it.  Buzzer fishing was best in the Bog Bay area of the lake and the siltier areas.

There were good hatches of olives and fishing olive nymphs worked well for several anglers.

Sheelin’s lake olive

Smaller lures worked better than the bigger ones with Chambers Bay, Wilsons and Kilnahard yielding the best results using these tactics.

UV Dabbler

Flies that worked well were the Black Pennel, Blue and Black Zulu’s, the Bibio, Connemara Black, Wickham’s Fancy, Black & Peacock spider and the Kate McLaren – a selection in sizes 10, 12 and 14 covered most eventualities.

Smooth exit

The Dabblers are still featuring as are epoxys, Shipman’s, Pheasant Tail, Diawl Bach, Hare’s Ear, Olive Nymph (size 12 & 14), Olive Bumble, and a Mini Muddler (effective as a top dropper). A beautiful 4lb trout was caught on the Dennis Moss’s Cluster, this one imitates the olive green buzzer.

A red Shipmans Buzzer and a buzzer shuck
David Oates thorax only Buzzer

The Lures are still making a wave – Humungous, Minkies and Snakes with the Streamers particularly the Wooly Buggers (in sombre colours of black, olive and brown) being popular choices.

Donal Harten with his Buzzer trout

The season is moving on and this progression was heralded in by the very welcome sound of the cuckoo echoing clearly across Bog Bay on Saturday morning.  The blackthorn blossom is fading into the hedges, soon to be replaced by the may blossom and two sea eagles have been spotted with yellow and green tags on their wings which in all probability are some of the Norwegian chicks that were released in August 2020 in either Kerry or Lough Derg.

Stretching the spots

The Oscar Wilde quote at the beginning of this report is reflective of some of the anglers fishing this lake.  Fishing is tough but there are determined anglers out there, who regardless of the challenges remain positive and focused on their goal to catch those elusive Sheelin trout and then there are others who give up their dreams too easily.  Lough Sheelin is a notoriously difficult lake to fish, nothing is easy but the piscatorial rewards, however sparse are undoubtedly worth the effort.

Back in
Waving goodbye


  • McDonald Cup 13th of August
  • LSTPA Stream enhancement competition 2nd of October
  • Interprovincial Championships 20th of August  
Smooth exit

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.
The overseer – Sheelin’s cow dung fly

Sheelin Guides

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services:
Tel: +353 87 1245927
Web: www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com

Christopher Defillon:
Tel: +33 685964369
Email: [email protected]
Web: evasionpecheirlande.net
Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/christopher.defillon?refid=0&fref=seaperch#

Michael Farrell:
Tel: +353 87 4194156 & +353 43 6681298
Email: [email protected]

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

John Mulvany:
Tel: +353 86 2490076
Email: [email protected]


Shoreline shelter


A catch & release policy is always actively encouraged on the lake

Catch & Relese

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. 

A weighty matter

The biggest fish for the week was a 7 lb trout caught by Larry Moley on a nymph pattern.

Total number of trout recorded: 15

Selection of Catches             

Pat Magee, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 4 ½ lbs on a Rambler fly

Larry Moley, Northern Ireland – 2 trout at 7lbs and almost 5lbs on nymph patterns.

John Brady, Cavan – 1 trout at 3lbs on epoxy patterns.

Pat Magee’s Rambler fish 
Piscatorial palm
Mutable magic