Lough Sheelin Angling Report May 23rd – May 29th 2022

‘On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it’

Jules Renard

I think, sometimes we create our own heartbreaks through expectation and for most of this week Lough Sheelin broke many hearts. What is purported to be the most eagerly anticipated, supposedly ‘easy’ and unquestionably exciting time for the fly angler – the mayfly season, now seems to be slipping through our fingers like sand.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

Of all of the vagaries of weather, wind is probably the one most dreaded by anglers and for the bulk of the week gone by, as well as for the previous two weeks, gusty, strong and ever persistent fresh south and north westerly winds have swept over Lough Sheelin, accompanied by frequent heavy showers of rain and in some incidences hail.

On Thursday evening, around 4pm, there was a mass exodus of boats from the lake as the winds refused to settle and temperatures dropped to a miserable 10 degrees.  Many anglers chose this week as their angling holiday but as the saying goes ‘man makes plans and God laughs’ as each day saw no change with repeated blanks, very little movement of fish and a choppy lumpy lake to contend with. Two anglers got into difficulty mid week when their boat capsized outside Chambers Bay, luckily there were plenty on hand to rescue them and thankfully everyone got to shore safely.  Safety is of paramount importance particularly on water but in an attempt to dilute the fright of a ‘near miss’ a fellow angler comforted them with the words ‘sure if the fish won’t come up to us, we have to go down to them’.

The gleam of gold

‘We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope’ a quotation from Martin Luther King which was never more true than last Thursday as the bulk of the anglers gave up in the late afternoon with only a few of the die hard Sheelin fans pushing back out in search of an evening rise.  Those scattering of anglers were rewarded for their persistent hope, because from 8pm to 10pm the lake came alive with surface feeding trout – large and small, feeding on any spent on offer.  There was a particularly good slick from Arley down to Crover where the trout were rising in double figures.  There was a caveat, however, because although the display of rising feeding trout was heart racing, the trout were impossible to catch and continually refused to take the artificial, always preferring the abundance of natural on the water resulting in very few fish being actually caught.

Looking ahead

In the past seven days there have been good trout caught but these were few and far between and it was all tough going.  Mark Mayers boated by Paul McMenamin caught a trout of over 9lbs close to the rocks at Merry pt. on a Dave McPhail Green Mayfly pattern on Tuesday and Larry Moley landed a few impressive sized fish.  There were also catches of 4, 5 and 6lbs reported.  Fishing, up to Thursday evening was all on the blind and it was mostly on wets.  A trickle of spent went out usually after 4pm with the most activity of fish feeding on spent from 9.30 to 11pm. Temperatures went up to a tropical 20 degrees on Saturday, not ideal fishing weather but still there was a good 6 pounder caught on a mayfly nymph in the bright calm.  Fish are also feeding both on buzzer and Welshman’s Button as well as on spent so if anglers were willing to ring in the changes, there were fish to be got. 


Larry Moley caught a nice trout on a Church Rat which could be classified as a hairy lure but although lures can work, this time of the year is all about wet, dry and dapping and lures seem somewhat out of place.

Keeping the net dry – Luna

There were huge hatches of mayflies and within the shoreline bushes, particularly down along Arley and Crover, these elegant little spinner flies were to be seen in their millions,  all waiting for the winds to settle to get out on to the water.  In some parts of America, mayflies are known as Canadian Soldiers which is an apt name for this year as these brave little flies battled the elements.  At approximately the same time each year, the mayflies emerge from their nymphal bodies, transforming into winged, air-breathing duns.  These winged duns fly to the shoreline trees and bushes where they molt into spinners.  After a brief period, usually one to three days, the sexually mature spinner breaks out of the dun’s body.

Saying Hello

Mayflies are very special in that they are the only insects in the world that molt again after attaining a winged form.  The spinners need to get out over the water to swarm and mate where both male and female fall to the water in a near death state with outstretched wings that anglers call ‘spent’.  This creates a great feeding opportunity for the trout as hundreds or thousands of spent spinners lie motionless on the surface.

The real deal

This is ideally what should happen but because of the inclement weather our Canadian soldiers were having difficulty getting out on to the water and many were dying in the bushes.  Of course, many hundreds did manage the journey and in some areas, like Walkers Bay, they caked the surface, macabrely in their last throes of death.  Water temperature does have an input in in determining when hatches occur and for this week the ever present strong and gusty winds produced a surface temperature (0.5m) of 14.84 with only a miniscule difference at 12.5m of 14.73 degrees.  There were greens coming off, plenty of mayfly and spent varying from carpets to trickles but it just wasn’t happening like it is suppose to be in this the most revered time in the fly fishers world.

mayfly on reed

The only consolation if it is a consolation is that all other trout lakes are fishing badly at the moment, there were rumours that Lough Ennell, well known for its secrecy, was fishing well to the Welshman’s Button but these murmurings unravelled as a colleague tried it out and failed hopelessly, reporting that buttons were few and far between with no trout on the move.  Lough Erne is also poor with locals there hailing any angler as a hero if they caught one fish and knighting them if they caught two.

Nearly there – a hatching Sedge

Imitating the various life stages of mayflies, and their movement through or on the water, is best accomplished with floating and intermediate-sinking fly lines.  A floating line with varied leader length gives you the ability to cover any depth, from less than a metre to right down to the depths.  Intermediate and slow-sinking fly lines are also effective in imitating the shallow angle of ascent of mature nymphs.

Compared to the emergences of chironomids or damselflies, the emergence of the mayflies is relatively short.  For Sheelin, the bulk of the mayfly will have hatched within 14-21 days and beyond that there will only be very light hatches.  As the white thorn or may blossom peaks and wanes along the shorelines so too will the mayfly here and with June in sight, we will be lucky to stretch our mayfly season out for another ten days.  Anglers have always appreciated the mayfly but so should everyone because after more than 350 million years of evolution, these mystical little insects have perfected the art of life.  They start as an egg, turn into a naiad, emerge from the water, fully mature into adults to reproduce, and then start a family of at least 400.  And they do it all in less than two days.  There is still much to be learnt about these magnificent creatures, but the one thing we do know is that they truly do exemplify the phrase – “live fast, die young’.

Paddling along – Larry Moley with his superb mayfly trout

Flies that worked: Grey Wulff, Green Wulff, Royal Wulff, The most popular flies were the Wet and Dry Mayflies – the Melvin May, Dennis Moss’s Ginger, Green and Gray Mayflies, the Mosley May as well as angler’s variants of the mayfly.

A slice of ice

The Spent Gnat patterns took top position and featured very heavily for most of the fish recorded.

The Wulffs were in the line up this week though with the onset of the spent fishing their popularity had somewhat diminished but all the same were responsible for some nice 6 pounders. The Green, Gray, Yellow and Royal all had their moment of glory.  These flies were mainly fished dry.



Best areas to fish were Church Island, Arley, down along Crover, Walkers Bay (lots of small fish here reportedly feeding on spent with abandonment, Merry pt. and Derrysheridan.  Best time to fish was from 7pm onwards.



Other flies that worked were the Dabblers (Peter Ross, Green, Silver and Fiery) Epoxy Buzzer, Buzzer variants, Spent Gnat, Sooty Olive, Golden Olive Bumble, CDC Mayfly Nymph, the Welshman’s Button, the Fiery Brown Sedge, the French Partridge Mayfly, the Royal Coachman, the Silver Invicta, the Cock Robin,  The Grey Klinkhammers (size 12 -14 (Emerger), the Cinnamon Sedge and Stimulators. Spent Gnat and Buzzer patterns, sizes 8-12.


The Sky’s the Limit

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 (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) 087 1245927

 Christopher Defillon 

[email protected] (+33685964369) evasionpecheirlande.net


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


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

Catch & 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.

 The biggest fish for the week was a 9.1lb trout caught by Mark Mayers on a dry Green Mayfly at Merry pt.

Total number of trout recorded: 43

  Selection of Catches             

Andrew Holden, Banbridge – 1 trout at 3.5lbs fishing wet mayflies

John Smyth, Cavan – 1 trout at 3.5lbs on a Grey Wulff (size 8).

Ben Breslin – 1 trout at over 4lbs on a spent gnat pattern.

Jimmy Farrelly, Longford – 1 trout at 6lbs on a Mosley May.

David Martin, Wexford – 1 trout at 5lbs in Walkers Bay on a Ginger Mayfly.

Albert Henry, Portrush – 1 trout at 4lbs on a Spent Gnat fishing at the back of Church Island.