Lough Sheelin Angling Report April 11th – April 17th, 2022

‘If there is no struggle, there is no progress’

 Frederick Douglass

This was another grueling week for fishing on Lough Sheelin with only small windows of piscatorial opportunity being offered to the anglers. This lake is refusing to give up its trout and although catches did happen on a daily basis, it was a bit of a painful business with returns stubbornly remaining in the single figures. Lough Sheelin is capable of so much more but is, for now, refusing to play ball with its anglers. It is still early in the season, we are still in spring and in my view this is the time of the year which is the most tiring – everything is greening up, bird song has gone up several decibels and we are inherently driven by a desire to reach this symbol of warmth that is spring with summer on the horizon. But it seems that every time the scent of seasonal progression comes within reach, it is maliciously whipped away by the remnants of winter – frosts and biting winds, which draw out this seasonal journey, sapping at patience and fueling tempers.

First cast. Fish were caught, but not in numbers

Water temperature sits at just under 10°C, with 9.8°C at the surface and 9.2°C at the bottom. A few trout are pitching, and some have been moving up into the top layers, but the main food attraction still appears to be in the lower regions of the lake with its food assortment of asellus, freshwater shrimp, caddis and snails. Dennis Moss refers to this time in the trout fishing season as the ‘transitional stage’ when the fish start to leave the declining larder down below and move up through the water to feed on the fauna. By late March/early April, the activity of asellus and shrimp is on the decline, this is the time these small crustaceans breed and then die so trout are on the lookout for alternative food and with the buildup of zooplankton they switch from bottom feeding to mid-zone feeding. Nature balances things out. The decline of one coincides with the proliferation of another. It is an encouraging thought.

Early bird menu – Gammarus lacustris (freshwater shrimp), Corru Bay

As this month progresses so too will the change in feeding patterns strengthen but for now fishing is challenging with anglers reporting on plenty of movement but little or no takes. Anglers commented throughout the week ‘that there were no buzzer hatches’ and cool daytime temperatures did nothing to encourage an increase in these chironomids.

A female duck fly – buzzer hatches were sparse

Most days saw good hatches of olives. Olives are seen as a ‘foul weather fly’ with wet and windy conditions seeing the densest hatches. Wave action, creating a weaker surface film, and windy conditions help the newly hatched adults to take flight sooner. But, in more wet, colder weather these duns may stay on the water’s surface longer, providing easy pickings for trout. This is what is supposed to happen in an ideal trout fishing scenario but the Sheelin trout still have not fully made that transition to a new menu and most are staying down in the deep.

Darkness into light and an olive wave on the water

Day time temperatures struggled to reach a comfortable heat to encourage hatches so there was an obvious lack of these midges. Winds were predominantly south to south westerly but had a nasty habit of becoming variable resulting in sudden changes in drifts making things testing for the anglers. Small lures are replacing the larger earlier season ones and some of the more successful ones looked like something that you might be tempted to feed – wads of purple fur with eyes. With the appearance of large hatches of olives, many anglers are turning to nymphing, patterns which covered a multitude that had nymph stage in their lifecycle – mayflies, olives, stoneflies, alderflies, dragonflies and damselflies.

A delight from the depths

Although conspicuous by their absence, imitations of the pupae stage of the buzzer did work by attracting trout and some nice fish over 2lbs were caught on epoxy patterns. Pat Magee’s Rambler fly with its hopper like legs worked its magic by claiming several trout in the deep. Anglers preferred the more silty areas like Bog Bay and the Sailors Garden for nymph fishing and down along the Crover shore for trout still feeding on the bottom asellus dwellers, the lures favoured more open water out from Chambers, Kilnahard and Wilsons while the fly anglers literally went from one drift to the other with the deeper areas more successful for the teams of wets.

Most i.e. 90% of the anglers I met on my travels, except the ones, of course, who had struck lucky, referred to the fishing in derogatory terms so because of the words they used I photographed the cow dung fly as a representative of their words. Despite its appalling name, the cow dung fly (family Scatophagidae) is incredibly beautiful which is reflective of Lough Sheelin – an incredibly beautiful if not capricious stretch of water.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – the Cow dung fly

Best nymph patterns were Pheasant Tail, Diawl Bach, Hare’s Ear and Olive nymph, in size 12 and 14. A size 12 Olive Bumble or a palmered pattern was good well as a top dropper.

Other flies that worked were the  Bits patterns in claret, fiery brown, ginger, black, orange, hare’s ear, olive and grey, Klinkhammers, Stimulators, Claret & Mallard, Silver Invicta, the Rambler, small black Buzzer patterns, Epoxys and Emerger Buzzer patterns, Kate McLaren, Bibio and Dark Wickham.

Successful lures and Streamers were large and bright – Snakes, Humungus, Muddlers, Blue Flash Damsels, Titanic Bug Black, Cats Whisker, Boobys, Wooly Buggers, Clouser Minnow,  Minkies and Zonkers.

The biggest fish for the week was 6lbs trout caught on a small lure by Latvian angler Markuss Helmanis.

Total number of trout recorded: 21

Selection of Catches             

  • Thomas Harten, Kilnaleck – 2 trout on Epoxy Buzzers and The Rambler fly, heaviest at 3 lbs
  • Aidan Heffernan, Kildare – 1 trout at 3 3/4 lbs on nymphs.
  • Pat Magee, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 4 1/2 lbs on a Rambler.
  • Valdas, Dublin – 1 trout at 2 1/2 lbs on a small lure.
  • Kazimieras Ambrozaityte, Naas – 2 trout, heaviest at 4lbs on a Cats Whisker.
  • Radoslav Jatnieks, Dublin – 1 trout at 5lbs on a lure mid lake.
  • Vladislava Minglinierks, Dublin – 2 trout, heaviest at 5lbs using lures at the back of Church Island.

Competitions

  • 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.


Inland Fisheries Ireland has launched new survey that will tap into the knowledge of trout anglers in Lough Sheelin. The survey will use a method developed by IFI called FLEKSI, which will help to track ecological changes through local knowledge.

FLEKSI, which stands for Fisher’s Local Ecological Knowledge Surveillance Indicators, will feature questions for anglers about their trout catch and about different aspects of the fishery now compared with when they started fishing on the lake. Anglers spend many hours outside observing nature and the fish they catch. IFI recognizes that this accumulated local ecological knowledge is valuable and has potential for citizen science that can provide important insights for fisheries management into the future.

Each participant also has the opportunity to enter into a prize draw for angling tackle, with one €200 voucher and two €100 vouchers to be won.

To take part in the survey and personally contribute towards the citizen science that can provide important insights for fisheries management into the future, please click here.


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

A smooth release

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.

Evening light