Lough Sheelin angling report May 20th – May 28th 2023

“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”

Marianne Williamson

Paul McMenamin with his 8lb lump of Sheelin gold

It was all swings and roundabouts on Lough Sheelin over the past week – peaks and troughs with a large dollop of unpredictability thrown in.  A Northwest wind dominated on most days bring with it an unwelcome cold which kept jumpers on, the trout down and sometimes stunted the spent going out on the water.  Water temperatures hung around the 16-degree mark with daytime heat soaring to a Mediterranean plus 20 on Saturday.  So far, there has been a piece missing out of our fishing season here.  We have gone from excellent buzzer fishing, brilliant nymphing and straight into ‘ hit and miss’ spent angling. There has been a very noticeable absence of fishing the wet and dry mayfly patterns with only a few takes on the dry Mayfly.

Melyvn Woods with his nymph fish May 20th
Mayfly magnets

There has certainly been no shortage of mayfly on this lake as we witnessed what seemed like millions of these elegant little insects performing their magical mating dance high above the bushes of Church Island and other tree lined places along the shoreline.  Clouds of males and females performing their courtship dance over the water, rising and falling gracefully through the air, a rare environmental spectacle which we were privileged to witness, something akin to an extract from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ but of huge significance as these insects provide a very visual declaration that there is a healthy ecosystem going on here for their requirements are non-negotiable – clean, clear water, without which they would not be here.

Hanging around – Lough Sheelin mayflies
Holding piscatorial perfection

Nymph fishing accounted for substantial catches during the day but I find it a little baffling that although the nymphs are working very well here, bring in good heavy trout, most anglers are reluctant to go over to what they perceive as ‘the dark side’ and engage in this type of angling.

Wet and dry flies get the bulk of attention and praise from the fly fishers, but the reality is that the trout spend most of their time eating nymphs under the water.  Nymphs are found in the lake at all times of the year and all hours of the day.  And trout spend the majority of their time eating them.  You do not need to time your approach or wait for the perfect hatch to start, instead tie one or more artificial flies in colour and size to match the real insects present in the water (which, for now, are mayfly nymphs) and start fishing. Regardless of what is actually working well now, many anglers still refuse to be converted to nymphing, citing boredom as being the main reason – ‘I would rather lick the entire N52 from top to bottom or watch a dry fly for ten hours’ than fish with nymphs.  It seems as if it is something to be ashamed of, perhaps their reasoning will become clear to me at some stage.

Mayfly nymph patterns that worked well were in brown colours with glittery red twisted through the body.

Flying the flag – Hubert Smith’s Sheelin gold

Daytime fishing was busy but it was the ‘out of office’ hours that attracted the highest numbers to this lake.  When the weather behaved itself there were large falls of spent but with such a volume of food on the surface this in itself made things difficult for the angler because it had to be an extra special fly with an extra special presentation to spark a take from our piscatorial friends when the spread of naturals was huge.

Darren Harten with his 6lbs 11oz spent gnat fish

Tuesday was the pick of the days and evenings with good numbers of fish being taken on the spent – predominantly the grey Wulff and CDC spent patterns. The Wulffs have always worked well on Sheelin with Green, Yellow and Grey all bring in good catches.

Sheelin’s goddess – Ephemera dancia

There were a few fish caught late at night on the Murrough at Lynch’s point.  Buzzer fishing has declined but nonetheless there were a few fish caught on dry buzzer patterns in Finea, Boy Bay and Goreport.

The Real and the Unreal

Flies that worked best were the Bits-type patterns in claret, fiery brown, black, ginger, orange, hare’s ear, olive and grey, the Klinkhammer, Mick Kelly’s Daoine Dubh ,  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 (the scruffier the better), Flashback Buzzers,  Black & Peacock Spiders (good snail imitation), CDC Emergers, Greenwell’s Glory, Wickhams Fancy, Bibios and Dabblers (Claret, Olive and Green), French Partridge Mayfly, Golden Olive Bumble, Spent Gnat and Buzzer patterns, sizes 8-12.

The best areas for fishing (wind dependant) were the back of Church Island, Corru, Derrysheridan, Bog Bay,  Inchacup, Stoney Island, Chambers, Lynch’s pt and Plunketts point.

This is lake is busy at the moment and every angler is very welcome to fish this incredible stretch of water.  We are now three months into the fishing season and at this stage every angler should know the laws on this lake, in particular, no angler can fish this lake without a permit and any angler who does so will be issued with a fine of €150 under Bye-law 178.

On Saturday last, IFI carried out a patrol on Lough Sheelin, checking seventy-eight anglers of which  95% alarmingly were not wearing life jackets.

The word life is self explanatory.

On a lighter note, my two favourite boat names this week were ‘I tell lies’ and ‘Happy as Larry’ both needing no explanation about their occupants.

Darren Duffy’s 31″ trout

There is still another week or two left on the mayfly after which the sedge fishing will push in to take top position.  There is a lot happening and any fish that have been caught have been magnificent with the top weight of 13lbs released.  This is a lake where dreams happen.

Richard Hunter’s 6lb trout


Little green bubble sedge by Evo Smyth
Damhnaic Mac Ciaragain
Sheelin’s Click Beetle
Mercurial magic
Holding gold
Dancing at Derry Point
Kenneth Rawley’s Wulff
New beginnings – Mallard ducklings
Balancing act – Jimmy Brogan with his 6lb trout
Homeward bound
In pensive mood
Debbie Meadows, Mayo with her canine fish watcher

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


Resting up

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.
Stephen Powell May 20th evening
Sheelin’s Alderfly

Total catches recorded for the week: 98

Heaviest fish: 13lb trout caught by Darren Duffy, Cork on a Mayfly Nymph

Selection of catches

Denis Goulding, Meath – 1 trout at 9.5lbs caught on a red tailed Nymph pattern.

Richard Hunter – 2 trout at 6lbs and 4.5lbs on Mayfly patterns

John Kiernan – 1 trout at 4.5lbs on Dry Mayfly.

Jimmy Brogan – 1 trout at 6lbs

Darren Harten, Kilnaleck – 1 trout at 6.11lbs on a Spent pattern, May 21st

Mark Mayers – 1 trout at 3lbs on a Green Wulff

Kevin Curran – 1 trout at 7lbs, May 21st using a 2 Nymph set up.

Shane Gainley, Mayo – 2 trout at 4 and 5lbs on Nymphs.

Martin Kearney, Dublin – 1 trout at 3lbs on a Spent pattern.

Martin McDaid – 1 trout at 5lbs, May 21st using Mayfly Nymphs.

Rory McCabe, Wicklow – 1 trout at 5lbs on a Peter Ross Dabbler.

Joe McArdle, Monaghan – 1 trout at 7lbs on a Spent Gnat pattern.

Warren Hogan – 4 trout, all on Spent Gnat patterns, heaviest at 6lbs.

Darren Duffy – 1 trout at 31″ on the Spent, May 22nd.

Thomas Harten – 1 trout at 3lbs on a Spent Gnat pattern, May 22nd.

Ken Furlong – May 21st, 1 trout at over 7lbs using Spents.

Chris Oliver – 2 trout, heaviest at 6lbs.

Brian Jameson – 1 trout at just under 7lbs on the Spent.

Kevin Callan – 1 trout at 3lbs on Spent patterns, May 23rd

Frank Kelly, Cavan – 1 trout at 5lbs on a Grey Wulff, May 23rd