Every year most anglers book at least a week off work to fish the Mayfly. Unfortunately those of us with young families and other commitments cannot afford to take as much time off. 

Mayfly fishing to me used to mean only one thing and that was a two to three week stay in Crossmolina to fish Lough Conn in Co. Mayo with a good friend of mine Fergal Scully. We had some great times fishing that wild lake and the people we met were great, i class Lough Conn as my second home now.  

As i have said times have changed for me and i dont even have the time to travel the 3 hours to Lough Conn for a day trip. I do love fishing the Mayfly and i love fishing drys, so i am always looking for another option so i dont have to travel so far.

Lough Sheelin is an option, an hour from my front door, lots of Mayfly and big fish. But the amount of attention the lake gets from anglers is phenominal. John Maguire brought me for a day in 2015, well an afternoon session, i caught two trout a 2lber and a 6lb 7oz fish fish , whichwas and still is a personal best. But the boat traffic was horrendous and i never went back.

This year Aiden Rush a very good friend of mine from the North of Ireland rang me up to see if i wanted to go to Sheelin. I was in two minds whether to go or not, as we hadnt fished together in years i decided to  join him . Aiden and i worked together for a long time when we were involved with the I.T.F.F.A Youths,so it was about time we took to the water again.

After a slight mix up , we met on the shores of Lough Sheelin, it was great to see the wee man after so long, he hadnt aged a day since i last saw him. A big smile and full of enthusiasm. We quickly tackled up and set out onto the water. Sheelin has a reputation for large hatches of Mays but unfortunately the fish do not take the adult green fly as much as they would on any other venue. But we both persevered fishing drys in high winds to no avail.

We travelled all over the lake that day, but at 5 oclock we were still fishless. It was time for a break in case the spent came out later that evening.

We came in near Holywell and had a good natter, the green fly was everywhere out on the lake and on the shore there was so much spent, it was amazing. It was like snow, i heard the expression before but i had never seen it. The spent were everywhere. i spent an hour just taking photos, enjoying the sun and enjoying just being there. Nature is such a wonderful thing. An odd one started to go out, we agreed it was time to get back on the water.


I had only experienced spent fishing a few time in my life and to be truthful its great but it can also be over so quick and you really are at the mercy of the elements. The spent can fly out and return to the bushes several times in the evening and never actually land on the water. Many a day and night myself and fergal watched this happen on Lough Conn, but on the odd occassion it happens and when it does, it can be great fun. But with it being cold and blustery i had my doubts that the fly would go out at all.

The wind was still up and down with an odd fish moving , but the fish only rose once and always out of range. I had put on a size 14 Conn Spent on the tail with a size 10 grey wolf on the dropper. A lovely fish around 2lb took the spent on the blind, as more spent dropped on the water.  All of a sudden the wind settled and it looked much better. Aidans spents are famous in these parts and are extremely effective. Aidan covered a fish with his spent, there was no mistaking the rise, a big slurp and Aidan was into to his first trout of the evening.

After landing the fish, Aidan took out his spent box, pointed to 3 rows of immaculately tied spents and said  "Take a few of them and some for your Dad". I know how long it takes to tie these flies, so i took two feeling embarassed.

Over the next three hours we caught some lovely fish up to 4.5lb. Aidan lost two bigger fish, but it was great fun and all on his spents. About 10pm the wind changed and no more spent came out. 

We decided to call it a night as we both had an early start, but Aidan wouldnt let me head home without handing me another 6 of his spents.  I was delighted to get a chance to fish with Aidan again, as it had been so long.  It is nice to fish with someone that fishes just for the pleasure of fishing, Aidan is now retired and i am off mid week, so i am sure we will meet up again soon for more fishing on Sheelin. Hopefully the Mayfly Mayhem will be over by then and the fish will be up on the surface.


James Russell

07.07.2019 11:25

Unbelievable fishing sheelin is a magical lake can’t wait to get down for the evening sedge fishing have you been out lately

Latest comments

19.05 | 05:47

Hi Denis
Good meeting last night, and enjoyed reading your blog. Felt I was on the lake with you. Great work

02.05 | 20:42

Hi Dennis loved the article straight to the point .just wondered will the trout feed on the small buzzers all year ?

06.04 | 11:57

Cant wait to read this

01.03 | 03:03

glad u enjoy, ty, will be back when the fishing returns

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