Lough Sheelin angling report May 13th – May 19th 2023

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”

Loren Eiseley

Reflecting on gold

This week it feels as if something or someone is about to explode as the numbers of anglers increased, the mayfly hatches increased, the trout catches increased and probably a lot of blood pressures increased too.  Older anglers always swear by the theory that when the white thorn or May blossom is at its peak then the hatches of the mayfly will also be at their peak.  The bushes around here are draped with white blossom, like sloppily iced cakes, there is still more to come, but not much and so our mayfly here is not quite at its height but next week we should be there.

A Mayfly trout

Lough Sheelin is fishing well, although nobody actually wants to say it out loud, for fear of jinxing things and possibly attracting the hoards of ‘duffer fortnight’ anglers.  Daytime temperatures hit 19 degrees on most days with a few cooler evenings and as always directly being affected by weather, those drops were reflected in the disappearance of hatches and of the fish.

Mayfly magic

Great fish have been caught, heavy slabs of gold from 4lbs up to the top weight of 12lbs by Kildare angler, John Gillespie.  The only thing that raises eyebrows around here these days is if someone reports getting a trout of ‘just’ around the 2 to 3lbs.  The trout weight bar is set very high on this lake.  Water temperatures are almost at 16 degrees and the fish and their food are on the move.

Double delight

There hasn’t been much action on the dry flies and most of the catches have been on nymphs or buzzers.  I find it amazing how many anglers have little faith and are verging on the dismissive when nymph fishing is mentioned and will continue slogging away with attractor and mayfly wet and dry fly patterns ignoring what their quarry is actually interested in.

Shaun Gaskell

Take note – a mayfly spends all but one or two days of its life underwater as a nymph.  It is no wonder, then, that 85% of a trout’s diet comes from beneath the surface and it is why, boring as it might be to some, fishing nymph patterns are working here.  Standard patterns include Hare’s Ear or Pheasant Tail.  Another one, although originally designed as a Stonefly nymph is the Prince nymph is working well.  Bung and Washing line are great methods, keep the selection of flies simple, stick with general plain buzzer patterns in black, olive and brown.  To this add simple nymph patterns in hares ear, diawl bach and pheasant tails.  Avoid bight tags, cheeks and heads as these are unnatural and will usually only decrease your success with naturally feeding, educated Sheelin trout.

A little piece of heaven, May 17th

As the season progresses, the best area for fishing is undoubtedly the quietest but at this time of the year it can sometimes be difficult to find one of them.  Areas that fished well were Chambers Bay, down along Holywell, Bog Bay, Corru, Derrahorn, Orangefield, Sailors Garden and at the back of Church Island.   A light to moderate south westerly wind dominated this week which gave plenty of scope to anglers.

Patterns that are working are the Wulffs – Royal, Green and Grey, Pheasant Tailed Nymphs, Gold Bead Hare’s Ear, Parachute Adams, slender Humpies, deer hair emerger mayflies,  Octopus (yellow), French Partridge, Chocolate Drop, Green Mayfly and Ginger Mayfly.  Other patterns that worked were Pheasant tail, Hare’s Ear, Olive Buzzer, Epoxy Buzzer, Fiery Brown Buzzer, Dark Wickham, Bibio, Fiery Brown Palmer, Dark Olive (point fly) and the Dabblers (Silver, Fiery, Pearly and Claret)

Mayfly patterns
A ‘trackered’ Sheelin trout displaying the blue tag

Since early May, IFI are carrying out a scientific study which aims to understand the effects of the changing environment, climate and extreme weather events on lake habitat and fish behaviour.  The study involves the tagging of a number of wild fish with internal acoustic transmitters and a visible external blue tag attached close to the dorsal fin of each fish.  Each fish will have a unique identification number.  This study involved the deployment of listening stations moored on orange marker buoys around the lake.  Each buoy is brightly coloured, marked ‘IFI Survey’ and should be clearly visible to all lake users.  The purpose of the buoys is to hold the listening station at the correct position in the water column to aid in monitoring the movements of fish around the lake.

How anglers can assist the study

Please be careful when boating near any of the floating buoys and avoid lifting or touching the buoys.  If you catch a trout with a BLUE TAG please take a note and/or photograph the ID number on the tag and release the fish back into the water.  Please send on the photograph or the written information to [email protected] and include the exact location and date of capture.  Many thanks for this.

Mark Phillips, IFI with a trout for tagging
Mayfly set up


On Friday, May 26th, the Butlersbridge Trout Angling Club will hold their Spent Gnat Open Fishing Competition – ‘The Hughes Cup’ on Lough Sheelin.  This competition will start at 7.0pm and finish at 10.30pm, Entry fee is €20 taken at Kilnahard Pier.  The weigh in will take place at 10.35pm. The winner with the heaviest fish will be presented with the Hughes Cup.  Enquiries to Dessie McEntee @ 0868937568

Waiting for spent
Chris Oliver’s trout of over 6lbs

Ringing the bells – Ephemera danica


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

Lining 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.


On the boil
Watching the madness

Catches recorded: 125

Weight of the week: a 12lb trout caught by Kildare angler John Gillepie on nymphs in Chambers Bay.