If I was to cast my mind back to the start of 2016, it would recall memories of a cold and wet start to an ambitious fishing season. Some of the worst floods and storms in Irish history bruised the Emerald Isle. The unsettled conditions seemed like an ever lasting bad movie. Eskimos have almost 49 words to describe snow. It may well be said that Irish anglers have gathered more expressions describing the rain which fell across the country this year.
Lough Sheelin opened its angling season on March 1st. The beauty of which holds a grandeur all on its own. The anticipation of hooking a large over winter wild brown trout will always outweigh the ever changing conditions on this fishery. It has to be said after fishing here for 22 years that sheelin holds plenty of treasures for both the experienced and the novice angler alike. When mother nature cooperates, fly fishing on this lough can be outstanding.
It’s always a pleasure to keep a watchful eye on Sheelin after battling nature over the long winter. Daffodils bring a wonderful sign and have long been considered one of the heralds of spring. Its also a sign for many that its time to go fishing. Sheelin trout can be taken on the wet fly in areas of shallow water from the opening day of the season. The conditions must be fair, a hint of changing weather will drive the fish out to deeper parts of the lough making them difficult to locate, a testing provocation for any angler.
It was mid April this year before the water table on Sheelin started to subside to a normal level. Fly fishing was patchy to start with little fly life. A late spring prolonged the appearance of the very much anticipated olives and buzzers. It was a frustrating time for dry fly angler as traditional wet fly patterns and lures fished intermediate toiled best. Angling in unfriendly weather conditions is always going to be a test which gave me a chill to the bone feeling on occasions. Late April brought occasional snow showers mixed in with weather fronts from Iceland, a resilient time for any angler.
May each time holds the promise of fly life and with milder conditions on the horizon it was time to take advantage and head west to Lough Corrib, the second largest lough in Ireland. I had been enlightened with news of some early hatches of mayfly and olives by an angling colleague and decided to take advantage. Oughterard a small town on the banks of the Owenriff river would be my base for a weeks fishing. Its always nice to get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy a wonderful retreat, catching a fish or two is invariabily a bonus.
They say that time flies when your are having fun and a weeks fly fishing Corrib went by very quickly. Warm sunshine with day time temperatures reaching the high teens played its part in promoting early hatches of mayfly and olives and good dry fly fishing was appreciated as a result. It would be unsportsmanlike of me not to mention that the local angling community and our hosts at the Butler Cottage were most courteous and respectful. I will most definitely retun again next year.
The road home was a quiet one indeed with expressions of both sorrow and joy. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter (Izaak Walton). The mayfly season just beginning on the midland loughs, lifted my spirits somewhat for the long journey home to Virginia. Temperatures soared into the early twenties later that week, with some hidden tautness and anticipation of spotting some mayfly. I returned to Sheelin. The lough showed signs of inspiration after weeks of braving the elements. Bursts of heat were honoured with impressive hatches of olives, buzzers and mayfly. It was an encouraging sign that some of seasons largest trout would rise to the surface.
Its hard to beat a Sheelin sunset. The summer was well underway and with the mayfly almost at a conclusion, sedge and murrough began to make an appearance. For experienced Sheelin anglers, fly fishing may well continue into the early hours of complete darkness as the great red sedge skate across a calm surface. Night vision and stealth comes into play when fly fishing in the dark. A good Sheelin angler may sit for hours in a corner of the lough waiting for an opportunity to cast to a splashing trout. The take to a murrough can only be described as wild. The trout are usually big and will travel up from the depths to feed after dusk.
Life is one big adventure and what would an anglers life be without friends or angling partners. It would have to be said that I have met some wonderful people sharing the same passion for fly fishing. Friendship is not a big thing – it’s a million little things and the great thing about fishing friends is that they bring energy to your soul. There are some people in life that make you laugh a little louder, smile a little bigger and live just a bit better and to all my friends I would like to thank you for this.
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