Lough Sheelin Angling Report May 5th – May 12th 2023

“ Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” 

Walt Whitman

May magic from Sheelin

This week was dogged by heavy thundery downpours – ‘proper wet rain’ as they say in Cavan.  These deluges did nothing to enhance the fishing on Sheelin but nonetheless our anglers soldiered on and those that did were amply rewarded for their piscatorial tenacity.  Monday was the pick of the fishing days where a light to moderate southwest breeze stroked the lake’s surface, sunny spells, scattered showers and a humidity in the late teens brought the fishing to boiling point.  Sheelin waved its magic wand and great fish of impressive weights and in beautiful condition were landed.  True to form, the following day, things crashed, a total anti-climax with few rises and the lake became a difficult and challenging place to be.  Things started to turn around a bit as the week progressed, water temperatures rose to over 14 degrees from top to bottom and the trout started looking up.

Sheltering from downpours

There were some small hatches of mayfly sighted at the weekend with thursday, finally being the day when the trout started taking the mayfly patterns.  Paul McMenamin had his first ‘mayfly’ fish on Thursday evening at Holywell – a 60cm spotted beauty taken on a COD special Mayfly pattern.

Buzzer patterns and set ups using Diawl Bach, Epoxy, nymphs and small dries fished in a Bung or Washing Line rig were the most effective and will be so until the mayfly season takes off in earnest which should be next week if the weather behaves itself.  Most days and evenings saw huge numbers of buzzers carpeting the surface but when there is that amount of food it is difficult to find a pattern that attracts and appeals among all those naturals so it can be a frustrating time.

Darren Harten with his Buzzer trout

We are fast approaching ‘duffer’s fortnight’ when the fishing is supposedly easy as the trout rise to gorge on mayfly and are much less likely spooked by a clumsy angler or poorly presented fly.  The reality is often a bit different. Enthusiastic anglers from all over Ireland drift around in boats waiting for the hatch from early morning, when the hatch usually starts from mid-afternoon and often later.  Once the hatch does get underway, the excitement builds in the wait for the trout to rise.  Our angler waits and waits some more but often it takes a few days for the trout to switch on to the rising and taking mayfly off the surface.  Fishing at this time sometimes can be quite difficult and one thing for sure is that you need the right flies and your normal patterns just won’t cut in the next three weeks.  It is important to have both nymph, emerger, dun and spent spinner in the box.  Often trout become selective and every now and then, it’s obvious that a fish prefers a certain stage in the insect’s life cycle so you need to be prepared.

Frankie McPhillips May line up

Wet fly fishing was still on the back burner as the buzzers and nymph patterns  achieved the best results up until mid week. Fish started to take the wets and dries from thursday onwards so patterns like the Gosling, Octopus (yellow), French Partridge, Chocolate Drop, Green Mayfly and Ginger Mayfly started to pick up the trout taking the 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).

Weight of the week – 11.4lbs

The areas that fished best where those favoured by the buzzers – soft silted areas so it was the Sailors Garden, Rusheen, Finea, Goreport and Corru which were best.

Now that the mayfly is appearing the fishing spots on the lake will increase as mayfly like the sandy rocky shorelines like Orangefield and down along Holywell and Crover.  The trout will move where the quantities and diversities of food are so soon I will be reporting that ‘every area’ is fishing well.

Gerry Kelly, Drogheda
Magic and mystery, Lough Sheelin’s mayfly
Mayflies are the oldest surviving winged insects on the planet.  Knecht discovered a mayfly impression from some 300 million years ago in a rock in America.  The insect’s short-lived elegance has inspired wonder and rumination by artists and poets.  Near the peak of the Renaissance, Albrecht Durer made an engraving called ‘The Holy Family With the Mayfly”.  The insect is sitting at the feet of the Virgin Mary.

Now that we are on the cusp of what is undoubtedly the high point of the game fishing season – the Mayfly , it is hard not to wax lyrical about this most elegant little insect.  As well as having the capacity to bring every trout angler to their knees, mayflies who require cool, clean water to live are among nature’s best ecological sentinels so their presence or absence is an invaluable indicator of environmental change.  The fact that Sheelin supports a huge population of mayflies is a fact that should be exalted from on high.

Sheelin’s Welshman’s Button
Trout food
Martin Ryan’s catch
Hawthorn fly
A fish in the hand
Colin Cahill’s release of his 6lb 9oz trout
Female Campto buzzer
Five pounder
Width of the net
lake olive
Popping out
buzzer on buttercup

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

The start of the beginning


Total number of catches recorded: 97

Heaviest catch: 11.4lb trout caught by Antio Deveraux on May 8th

Selection of catches:

Fergal O’Connor: May 5th, 1 at 7.4lbs in the morning, with a second 3lb trout caught in the afternoon on Buzzer patterns.

Frank Kelly, Cavan – 1 at 9lbs on Buzzer patterns

Gerry Kelly, Drogheda – 2 trout at 5lbs on Buzzer and nymphs.

Declan Young, Cavan – 2 trout averaging 3lbs on Buzzer patterns.

Paul McMenamin, Northern Ireland – 2 trout, heaviest at 5lbs on a COD special Mayfly.

John Carmichael, Cavan – 1 trout at 4lbs, May 10th on a Gosling.

Martin Ryan, Drogheda – 1 trout at 5lbs on a Buzzer.

Andris Rinkulis, Wexford – 1 trout at 3lbs on a lure.

Mercurial water