Sheelin report – May 2nd – May 8th, 2022
“Choose only one master — nature.”
After the previous week’s noticeable escalation in trout catches, this week was awash with piscatorial hope but Sheelin, true to form, chewed up that hope and spat it out in the form of sporadic numbers of trout which were pernickety and obtuse. To say this is a fickle stretch of water is an understatement, Lough Sheelin is painfully unpredictable and this week its erraticness was almost tangible. There was a gradual increase in daytime temperatures culminating in near tropical conditions of 20°C at the weekend. Bright sunny conditions and variable winds made daytime fishing conditions challenging. There were good hatches of buzzer and olives along the reedier areas of the lake – Rusheen, Corru, Bog Bay, Goreport and Sailors Garden.
With water temperatures climbing to above 13°C, there was plenty of sub surface movement from the buzzer and olive department, but trout were hard caught. Tuesday was the pick of the fishing days, with light south westerlies and humid conditions bring on huge hatches of buzzer and the trout responding with voracious visible surface and sub-surface feeding. Like the roller coaster that is Lough Sheelin, Wednesday counteracted that good day by being very poor with rain and a north west wind chilling everything down, causing the buzzers to disappear and producing only a smattering of olives all of which consequently caused the trout to disappear down to the lower larder once again.
The best time for fishing this lake over the past seven days was from 10pm onwards when buzzers hatched out in force with enormous swarms and anglers reporting ‘serious’ numbers of balling buzzers with the larger fish rising up to feed on them. The lake seemed to liven up at night which always reminds me of what an old angler once said to me when the trout seemed to be stuck only on nocturnal feeding – ‘sure they’re like my teeth, they only come out at night’ but like his teeth they came out during the day too as he never seemed to have them in much at any time. John Ferran caught a beautiful ‘after dark’ trout of over 6lbs with an eloquently and aptly placed caption under his photograph – ‘ Lough Sheelin finally gives up her gold’. Most of the bigger catches for this week were either caught on balling buzzer patterns, after dark or from daytime epoxy buzzer fishing.
Although there were some nice fish caught on nymph rigs, this week was all about the buzzer. I still find it confusing when anglers refer to the imitations of the larvae and pupae of this chironomid as nymphs when they are not, and the pupa dressing is often called the ‘Buzz’ when the buzzer is the adult. Putting aside this confusing jargon, interestingly in English literature they refer to smutting fish – when the trout were on the rise to small midges or buzzer. Also, I remember reading somewhere that when the fish are feeding on buzzers ‘To try a Wickham’s Fancy – if it doesn’t work go home’. If only things were that black and white.
Nature is pushing forward, although we have had a few cold nights, these are decreasing and the warmth of the summer is mostly present. Shoreline trees and shrubs are filling in and verges are amass with all sorts of floral blossoms – bluebells, stitch worth, dandelions, celandines, umbellifers and orchids. The blackthorn flowers have been replaced by leaves and the Hawthorn or May Blossom is bubbling up to bloom. The may blossom is synonymous with the forth coming mayfly season here, it is reputed that when this bush or small deciduous tree with its spiny branches is in full bloom then Sheelin’s mayfly will be at its peak.
A few mayflies were spotted this week around Rusheen and Chambers, making pulses race no doubt. Next week will be all about fishing mayfly nymph patterns as these propel themselves up to the surface to emerge to the Dun stage in their lifecycle. There is something very magical about the mayfly. They are a very primitive species, going back about 100 million years, existing long before dinosaurs. In some respects, they should be honoured and revered for this fact alone. They belong to the order ‘Ephemeroptera’ which comes from the Latin word ‘ephemeral’ meaning short-lived and ‘optera’ meaning winged, referring to the short lifespan (a couple of hours to a few days) of the winged adults whose only purpose is to mate. Personally, I am very fond of the Latin names for things but many anglers are also very fond of telling me that trout don’t speak Latin and of course they are right but it doesn’t hurt to know both the Latin and common name for mayflies. Fly fishing is a sport where the more you know, the more successful you usually are at catching fish – I rest my case.
Although Denis Goulding caught a lovely fish on a Humungus Booby, he was the exception to the rule and most trout were caught on epoxy buzzers with wets, a single dry fly or nymph patterns bring in the minority of this week’s results. Lures have very much taken a back seat and it is now all about fishing the buzzer imitations, casting a dry and rooting out those mayfly patterns.
Epoxy buzzer patterns brought in the highest number of catches but other flies that worked were the Bits-type patterns in claret, fiery brown, black, ginger, orange, hare’s ear, olive and grey, the Klinkhammer, a Griffiths Gnat, Grey Duster, Nymphs – Pheasant Tail, Diawl Bach, Hare’s Ear and Olive in sizes 12 and 14, Mini Muddler as a top dropper, Epoxy Buzzer, Shipmans Buzzer, Flashback Buzzers, Black & Peacock Spiders (good snail imitation), CDC Emergers, Greenwell’s Glory, Wickhams Fancy, Bibios and Dabblers.
And now back to our survey – Inland Fisheries Ireland is asking anglers to fill in a survey which plans to capture anglers’ knowledge and hands-on experience to help track changes in fish stocks and ecosystems. The new method is called FLEKSI, which stands for Fisher’s Local Ecological Knowledge Surveillance Indicators. The results of this survey could shape future plans for this lake, but we cannot do it without the anglers who fish these waters.
This survey is easy to do, takes a maximum of 10 minutes (unless you want to add extra in on the comments section) and is important. We are asking anglers to have their say by taking the time to complete this survey. The link is included in this report and if contact details are submitted that person will be automatically entered into a draw for angling tackle (one voucher at €200 and two for €100) but this is entirely optional. If anglers are having difficulties with the online version, please contact IFI where the local staff at Sheelin are more than willing to help out.
- McDonald Cup 13th of August
- LSTPA Stream enhancement competition 2nd of October
- Interprovincial Championships 20th of August
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:
Tel: +353 87 1245927
Tel: +33 685964369
Tel: +353 87 4194156 & +353 43 6681298
Grey Duster Guiding:
Tel: 086 8984172
Tel: +353 86 2490076
A catch & release policy is always actively encouraged on the lake
The biggest fish for the week was an 8lb trout caught by John Brennan, Longford using Nymphs in Rusheen.
Total number of trout recorded: 42
Selection of Catches
- Peter Boyle, Monaghan – 11 trout, 5 over 5lbs on Buzzers.
- Dessie McEntee, Cavan – 2 trout, heaviest at 3lbs on Buzzers.
- Larry Morley – 1 trout at 5lb on Buzzers.
- Denis Goulding, Dublin – 5 trout, best at over 5lbs on a Humungus Booby on a washing line set up.
- 2 Northern Ireland anglers -2 trout at 6 and 6 ½ lbs.
- James Reilly, Wexford – 3 trout on dry Buzzer and Balling Buzzer patterns, heaviest at 6lbs.
- Michael Loughree, Dundalk – 4 trout on Buzzer patterns, heaviest at 5lbs fishing Goreport.