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Sheelin trout tough to tempt but some good fishing had

September 10th, 2018 | by

‘In this ever-changing world, there are few things that have remained constant for me. The chance of hooking a nice trout still excites and thrills me to this day….I like that!’


Lough Sheelin

Paul Douglas, Northern Ireland with his September trout

This week, seasonal change was in the wind and Lough Sheelin’s trout were making the most of summer’s final bounty with their exuberant aerial exhibionistic behaviour and splashy takes. Fishing was reported to be somewhat tougher than in previous weeks but nonetheless there were some very good catches recorded with consistent reports of 3, 4, 5 and 6 pounders, in superb condition, coming to the net.

Lough Sheelin

A beautiful Sheelin trout caught by Kevin Sheridan using his own tying of a Claret Stimulator

Autumn is a unique time for anglers here, the back end of a fishing season that affords some of the top fishing of the whole year and for anglers who believe that the sun rises and sets only on Lough Sheelin, big trout are high on the target menu.

The quest to catch ‘that big one’ seems to be on everyone’s agenda here and this lake with its abundance of heavy trout offers all anglers the opportunity to fulfill that dream always remembering of course that Sheelin’s trout are tough customers.  Moody, smart and reclusive, they put their anglers to the test, especially those big trout.  There are two ways to get a big fish here.  Either you can be lucky and just stumble into it (which sounds like me) or you can do the leg work and put in the time and this is where the blue blooded persistent Sheelin angler shines through, producing for their efforts an enviable consistency of catches.

brown trout

Mike Sutherland, Scotland with a 45cm fish, September 4th fishing with Loughsheelinguiding

For this lake (as is probably the case with every other trout fishing water) the winning combination is good timing, the right conditions, the right place and a great presentation. These and a stubborn perseverance will achieve results.  It may seem obvious but you have to be in the presence of big trout to catch big trout or indeed any size of trout so getting out on the lake instead of talking or dreaming about it is a good start.  Looking at the combining factors – the right conditions always seems to have the slight edge of importance over the others.  Tuesday was the pick of the days this week with the other days lagging behind by only partially fishing well mainly from mid afternoon onwards.  Tuesday produced some great fish in great numbers, ‘pigs’ of fish, coming to the boat with good aggressive takes.  Once in a while the ‘perfect storm’ really is perfect so with a  north  west wind, mixed cloud cover, along with bright sunshine and a noticeable drop in temperature, the fish responded positively and trout up to 6lbs were caught predominantly on Claret Dabblers, Stimulators and Hedgehogs.  Wednesday with different wind directions was a much tougher day with fishing only picking up from 3pm onwards.

brown trout

Martin Allen, Northern Ireland with a lovely 55cm trout

The heaviest trout over the past number of weeks was a trout of 7 ½ lbs caught by Northern Ireland angler David Sharpe, Ballymena using a Claret Stimulator.

Total number of trout recorded:  65

Selection of Catches

  • Stuart Topp, Orkney – Tuesday September 4th 3 trout biggest at 54cm fishing Claret Dabblers and Hedgehogs.
  • Tony Grehan, Dublin – 1 trout at using a Chocolate Drop Sedge fishing mid lake, September 8th.
  • Martin Allen, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 55cm fishing wets.
  • Gerard McSean, Cavan – 3 trout best at 3 ½ lbs fishing Stimulators and Dabblers.
  • David Carney – 1 trout at 4lbs fishing wets.
  • Owen Jacob, Dublin – September 6th 2 trout heaviest at 3 ½ lbs on Stimulators.
  • Mike Sutherland, Scotland – 3 trout, all over 3lbs using Claret Dabblers.
  • Mark Dunleavy, Dublin – 8 trout for the week, heaviest at 5 ½ lbs using Stimulators and Claret and Pearly Dabblers.
  • Cian Murtagh, Cavan – 1 trout at 4lbs using a Stimulator type sedge, September 7th.
  • Frank Kelly, Cavan – 2 trout best at 3lbs using Dabblers.
  • Eamon Ross, Ballyconnell – 3 trout best at 2 ½ fishing wets.
  • Pat Magee, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 1lb on wets.
  • Tony King, Co.Down – 1 trout at 4lbs
  • Aaron Flood – 1 trout at 1 lb.
  • Jonathan Kellett, Mayo – 2 trout heaviest at 5lbs caught on a Claret Dabbler mid lake.
  • John Brady, Coothill – 1 trout at 3lbs caught on a Hopper.
  • John Ryan, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 5lbs pulling wets.
  • Donal Keating – 1 trout at 64cm on Dabblers.
brown trout

Stuart Topp, Orkney with his 54cm trout

The trout are still making themselves obvious all over the lake with plenty of leaps, pitches and splashes throughout the day.

Fast intermediate and floating lines (sometimes with sink tips) were being used, both having a respectable amount of success.

Conspicuous by its absence, the blood worm featured this week, the best areas for this was in Bog Bay and in any silty areas using red skinny patterns with a slow retrieve.

The places that achieved the best results were down along Derrysheridan, Bog Bay, Derrahorn, Sailors Garden and mid lake out from Church Island. Wilson’s Pt. and around Stony Island also brought up good fish.

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The Hatches


Sheelin’s September Olive

The only natural fly around were the odd hatch of sedge, some September olives and the odd terrestrial – daddies and a stray beetle or two. Pulling wets was the favoured and most productive method with a few anglers chancing their luck by dapping a hopper or daddy in a wave.

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The Flies

The flies that featured most were the Stimulators, leggy patterns – Green Peter, Sedges and Daddies, the Dabblers (Claret, Fiery, Pearly, Black and Golden), the Claret Bumble (as a top dropper with an overcast sky), the Golden Olive Bumble (for later in the day when the sunshine was intermittant), Fiery Brown Bumble, Watson’s Bumble, Kate McClaren (good as a middle fly), Sooty Olive, Black Pennel, Mallard & Claret, Muddlers and Hoppers.

trout fly

A Daddy – good for September fishing

The flies that worked consistently well were those with claret in them and a touch of sparkle usually silver or green. Claret is always a good colour on this lake which brings up the confusing topic of how much or whether trout can actually distinquish different colours.  It is fact that at dusk, as light intensity fades, red is the first colour to go, followed by orange, yellow, green and blue.  As total light intensity decreases, the rod cells in the fish’s eyes become more active and the fish is no longer able to distinquish colour.  Chartreuse and white or red and white produce the most contrast and are the best combinations under any light.  Black, due to its contrast is the most visible colour under most conditions and best at night.  Experts say using darker colours like claret, black and violet are best in low light.  The thing to realise is that the colour of your fly in the water is almost always different from what it is in the air.

trout fly

A pair of Dapping Daddies by Thomas O’ Donovan

This is a subject that you could get really bogged down in so its best to keep it simple and remember that trout feed by looking up towards the surface of the water which means they have difficulty distinguishing specific colours so it seems the contrast is the most important thing.

trout fly

Sooty Olive Pearly Dabbler (Thomas O’Donovan)

Some anglers however believe that the silhouette of a claret coloured fly takes a blood red colour on it to the upward looking feeding fish and this triggers a take.   Light and colour theories can all get very complicated but to simplfy things and get back to basics what an angler is trying to do is to have the flies imitate pieces of fish food.  Trout are not that clever (with a brain the size of a pea) and they attack their prey using instinctive behaviour motivated (or so we think) by one or more stimuli.  These stimuli include movement, shape, sound, smell, colour and presentation so if we can encompass some of these into our fishing methods the result is usually a positive one for here.

trout fly

Jimmy Tyrell’s Claret Dabbler

A hint of flash in the form of silver, gold or green works by adding that extra attractor element to the fly and as some of our Scottish anglers reliably informed me ‘ a thread of silver will entice trout from over 20 yards away’.

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This week, when in a heated discussion about the vast array of flies now available, an elderly angler commented ‘The older I get the more I like less’ and so he left me, heading off with a rod and reel in one hand, landing net in the other, leader material, snips, gink and a small waterproof fly box containing a few patterns in different sizes, returning in at the end of the day with some very impressive fishy photographs – simplicity is best.

Lough Sheelin

Low water levels on Sheelin, Tonagh

Upcoming Competitions

The McIntyre/Guider Cup

The McIntyre/Guider Cup – Saturday September 29th, starting at Kilnahard 11.0am to 6pm, this is an open fly fishing competition and gives a good warm up before the biggest competition of the season on October 1st. For further information please contact Dessie McEntee on 047 77216 or 086 8937568.

Stream Rehabilitation Competition

stream rehab competition

Click to download leaflet [pdf]

On Saturday October 6th Lough Sheelin’s angling club The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association will host their annual Stream Rehabilitation Competition starting at Kilnahard from 11am to 6.0pm.

All proceeds of this event go towards the enhancement and rehabilitation of the rivers within the Lough Sheelin catchment.

The club and organisers of this competition, now in its thirteenth year, welcome all anglers who wish to fish one of the best wild brown trout fisheries in Ireland and to experience first-hand the magic and allure of this lake which has the potential to produce the heaviest trout in the country.

Denis O’Keefe Memorial Cup

The LSTPA have added an additional cup on to their list this year, this cup is in honour memory of great angler and Sheelin advocate – Denis O’Keefe and will be awarded to the best member over the 3 senior competitions (Kilroy Cup (18/3/18), the McDonald Cup 9 11/8/18 & The River Enhancement Comp. 6/10/18).

For details please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033

brown trout

One for the future

Cavan/Monaghan Garda Divisional Fly Fishing Championship and Open Competition

The Cavan/Monaghan Garda Divisional Fly Fishing Championship and Open Competition will be held at Lough Sheelin on Sunday October 7th from Kilnahard Pier, 11a.m – 5.30p.m. 

Weigh in at 6.30pm and meal at Pat Bannon’s Pub, Ballyjamesduff. Entry fee of €25 taken at Kilnahard.

This competition is for:  The Heaviest fish – visitors and The Heaviest fish – Cavan/Monaghan Division Garda Members.

For further details please contact  Colin Dodd 086 6000630, Pat Foley 087 2405313 or Dessie McEntee on 086 8937568.

Go Fishing…

House Rules

A permit is required to fish Lough Sheelin. Buy your permit online at: shop.fishinginireland.info or from any of the permit distributors listed here.

Catch and release

Catch and release


A catch & release policy is actively encouraged on the lake at all times

Extra care is needed when playing and releasing trout during periods of high water temperatures as additional stress at these times will decrease the survival rate of hooked and released fish.

 BYE-LAW 949 strictly prohibits:

  • The taking of any brown trout of less than 36 centimetres.
  • 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.

Join the Club…

For anyone interested in joining Lough Sheelin’s Angling Club – The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033.

Guides and ghillies…

Grey Duster GuidingGrey Duster Guiding
Kenneth O’Keeffe
086 8984172 Email: trout@live.ie

Christopher Defillon
Tel: +33 68 596 4369  Email: evasionpecheirlande@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.defillon

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services
Tel: 087 1245927 Web: www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com

D.C Angling & Guiding Services
contact David @ 087 3946989

Michael Farrell
Tel: 087 4194156 or  +353 43 6681298
Email: loughsheelinguide@hotmail.com

Michael Flanagan,
Trout and Pike Guide.
Email: mick@midlandangling.com Web: www.midlandangling.com


We would implore anglers and all other users to wear life jackets for their own safety as well as it being the law.

Life jackets are required by law – SI No 921 of 2005 – Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005. Water  rarely gives second chances and a life jacket is just that – it saves your life.

Please put on and keep on that life jacket until you are back on dry land.

Church Island, Lough Sheelin

Church Island, Lough Sheelin

This post is in: Lough Sheelin, Trout fishing reports