Lough Sheelin Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI June 3rd – June 9th

Ours is the grandest sport. It is an intriguing battle of wits between an angler and a trout; and in addition to appreciating the tradition and grace of the game, we play it in the magnificent outdoors.
~ Ernest G. Schwiebert, Jr.

Mary Harkins, Dublin with her 4 ½ lb trout caught on a spent gnat and returned

Belinda Carlisle’s song ‘Heaven is a place on earth’ came into fruition on Lough Sheelin this week, for Sheelin was a piece of heaven for trout anglers who fished the lake.

As temperatures soared so did expectations, dreams and the blood pressures of the Sheelin anglers. This beautiful lake – Ireland’s ‘fairy pool’ never failed to deliver with spectacular hatches of millions of mayfly and so many rises of trout particularly throughout the bank holiday weekend and early part of the week, that anglers were thrown into a whirl wind of confusion as to which one to cover.

One angler confessed that he was so overcome with it all that his legs turned to jelly and he was incapable of casting right, extreme yes but not surprising as this lake can have that effect.

Nature however still has the upper hand and this was proved on Tuesday evening when from 7 – 9 pm fishing was extremely good with multitudes of trout rising but then temperatures dropped, a chill crept into the air and almost immediately fishing stopped with only a few trout plucking at the surface and fly life became sparse and boats started moving about searching for fish and for that day anyway the fishing was over.

As the week progressed and from Thursday onwards temperatures climbed and remained in the mid-twenties and Sheelin and its users started to bake.

Although some good trout were caught in the bright daytime sunshine, numbers dropped off considerably and particularly during the close of the week the best fishing was from 10pm onwards.

A popular belief among anglers is that the surface layer of the water becomes hot and the trout don’t want to come up through that layer to feed and instead sink down to the lower cooler regions of the lake.  The best time for fishing in general was from 7pm onwards and for many anglers the onwards meant 1 and 2 in the morning.  One angler reported great fishing around Derrysheridan last Friday around midnight where facing the north he could see enough to witness an ‘unbelievable’ rise of fish coming up to the surface to feed in between a carpet of spent and broken reeds.

Mayflies and Swans – Lough Sheelin June 5th

The flies most used were the dry green mayflies with all sorts of variants on the basic model and of course the spent gnat and its variations.  Also the green peter and murrough are starting to feature.

Although there seems to be a basic template to all fly patterns, actually no two flies will ever look the same, it depends solely on the person tying the fly and a green mayfly for example could vary with extra bits of green or brown threaded through depending on its creator.  One angler explained this week that his ‘killer fly’ for Sheelin (of which he would never divulge the secret of its make- up ) actually had been given to him some 40 years ago by an English man – a captain Mills and he in turn had been given it by his postman, the fly – a spent gnat was called Mr Mot and apparently never fails despite being cast in the midst of carpets of natural spent. This week in certain areas the lake’s surface was dense with spent so most anglers would have needed a Mr Mot as without a special fly it was a little like a needle in a hay stack scenario.

The wulff still featured with the grey being the most popular but the green is still in there too.  The wulff is nearly generic to this lake and is an old reliable favourite at this time of the year.

The only real advice to anglers is again to study the water and see whats on it and imitate that.  Fishing is about ‘seeing’ as well as ‘looking’, studying more than casting.

There were a lot of smaller fish around the 1 – 1 ½ lb mark being seen and caught (and released) but there were also lots of bigger trout on the move averaging 3 – 8 lbs.

The local angling club – The Lough Sheelin Protection Association have a strong catch & release policy –their signs ‘don’t kill the goose’ are dotted around the entries into the lake so it’s important that anglers both local and visiting adopt this policy.  All of us want Sheelin to remain at the top but it’s a combined effort and everyone has a part to play in maintaining this lake as one of Ireland’s top trout fisheries.


Joe Casey, Athlone with his lovely Sheelin trout, June 4th

On Wednesday and Saturday camera men – Dom, Theo and Bertie working for John Murray’s film company ‘Crossing The Line’ visited Lough Sheelin and headed to Church island to film the dance of the mayfly and the falls of spent as well as the sunsets over the lake.  They were not disappointed and where that impressed with the millions of obliging mayfly that they returned for a second day with 150,000 euros worth of camera to take some slow shootings.  This company (who recently won a world award for best nature filming) was responsible for producing the series ‘The Secret Life of The Shannon’ and their Lough Sheelin filming will go towards another environmental episode.

Also on Friday last Pat Kenny reporter Marie Louise O’Donnell accompanied by Michael Flannagan (angling reporter) visited the lake and this excursion conversation will be on the Pat Kenny show between 10 and 12 this Tuesday June 18th.

Sheelin at the moment is attracting anglers not just from Ireland but from France, England, Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland and America.  This lake is busy with most days clocking up over 100 boats on its waters but Sheelin with its 4500 acreage is handling this number with a comfortable ease and anglers venturing out have always been able to fish a drift in comfort with little or no disturbance.

A successful Mayfly gathering event was held on lough Sheelin on Friday the 7th and Saturday the 8thJune last.  Over 16 anglers from as far away as Australia were entertained by the LSTPA and Crover house.  Fishing conditions were poor during the day and members of the club brought the visitors out for some of the famous spent gnat fishing.  Crover house provided an excellent dinner for those who took the time to come in off the lake.  In total the visitors managed to catch 10 trout.  All of the trout were returned.  The top visiting angler was Mr Andrew Dale from Halifax in the UK closely followed by Mr Robert Keane from Coventry.  We had two Irish anglers, brothers Thomas and Barry Campbell who returned from Saudi Arabia and Australia to visit family in Dundalk.  Both lads enjoyed their day on lough Sheelin and promised to come back when they are home again.   Pictured are the anglers who managed to come off the lake for the dinner provided by Crover House Hotel along with Assistant Manager Evelyn Goldrick.  Also pictured are Mr Andrew Dale, Mr Robert Keane and Mr Paul Lunny receiving their trophies commemorating their catches of fish on Lough Sheelin.  Crover House kindly sponsored 2 nights B&B with boat hire which was won by Mr Thomas Campbell.

On Sunday June 9


The Sheelin Classic was held on Lough Sheelin.  To say that the weather conditions were unsuitable for fishing on that day is an understatement, the bright sunshine and temperatures persistently at 23 -24 degrees left most of the entrants with sunburn and no fish.  Only a small number of trout were caught, the winner being Fermanagh man Dom Kerrigan with his 3.31 lb fish caught on a green peter, second was Andrew Brown, Dublin with a 1.66 lb trout also caught using a green peter and third was Scottish man Willie Horne with a 1.59 lb trout.  There was a worry about this competition in that it was in the middle of the mayfly season and anglers feared that too many fish would be caught but on the day it proved that the Sheelin trout can look after themselves….

Dom Kerrigan, Co.Fermanagh with his winning 3.31 trout caught on a Green Peter

The LSTPA are planning their youth angling day at Lough Sheelin in the next few weeks for further information contact  Eamon Ross @ 087 9436655 or Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033

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

Cathal McNaughton puts back his 4 lb 1 ozs in Hollywell Bay

Please remember anglers to abide by BYE-LAW 790 – we need to keep our small fish alive……………

Heaviest catch for the week was a 8 lb trout caught by Joe Casey, Roscommon on a spent.

Total number of trout recorded: 361

Selection of Catches

Ryan Houston, Lisnaskea – ghillied by Thomas Lynch, 6 trout weighing in at 1 ½ to 3 3/4lbs (


Mary Harkin, Rory’s Fishing Tackle, Dublin fishing with Andrew Brown, Dublin – 15 trout for 3 days June 3rd – 5th.  Best was 6.5 lbs, 6.25 lbs, 4.5 lbs and 3lbs.  The rest

Weighed between 2 and 2 ½ lbs.  All were taken on the spent and all released.

Denis Liston – on June 4th 1 trout at 6 lbs using a wulff in Ross Bay.

Oliver McCormack, Cavan – 6 trout out from Stoney island best was 2 ½ lbs, all released.

`Thomas and Darren Harton, Cavan – June 5th, Darren landed 7 trout on a spent, weights ranging from 2 ½ to 4 ½ lbs.  Thonas 2 trout at 2 & 3 ½ lbs and 1 at 4 lbs.

Frank Donnellan, Navan – using a green wulff, 2 trout at 2 ½ and 3 ½ lbs.

Brian Connaghton, Ballinasloe – on Wednesday June 5th 4 trout all averaging 3lbs on a spent gnat.

Joe Casey, Roscommon – 1 trout at 8lbs down from Boy Bay on a spent and 5 other trout averaging 3 ½ – 4lbs, all released.

Aidan Heffernan, Dublin – 5 trout up to 6 ½ lbs on a spent.

Denis Moss, Oxford now living in Galway fishing with Thomas Lynch – 16 fish

Weighing in at 2 ½ – 4 ½ lbs.

Maurice Lyttle, Mountnugent – 1 trout at 5 lbs on a spent gnat.

Carson Nevin, Ballymoney – June 5th 1 trout at 2 ½ lbs on a ginger brown mayfly.

Barry Fox and Andy Duncan, Mullingar – 18 trout between them all got on dry mayflies and spents, the heaviest weighed in at 5 lbs.

Paul Burke Kennedy, Crover – 1 trout at 7lbs

Noel McLoughlin, Kells – 34 trout over the week, heaviest at 5lbs, all returned

Peter McArdle, Dundalk –  11 trout on Saturday averaging 2 – 6 lbs, 7 for Wednesday and a lot of small trout 1 ½ – 2 ½ for Thursday.

Andrew Brown, Dublin – 1 at 3lbs on Saturday June 8th on a spent around Stoney at 11pm.

James Lowe, Scotland – 2 trout averaging 2 – 2 ½ lbs – very impressed with the huge rises of fish.

Trevor McKenna, Monaghan – 1 trout at 6.9 lbs on a spent, caught off Inchacup.

Neil Docherty, Dublin – using a yellow winged Erne Wulff in Goreport 1 trout at 3 lbs 9ozs.

Cathal McNaughton, Antrim – 1 trout at 4 lbs 1oz using a yellow winged Wulff fishing around Holywell.

Brenda Montgomery IFI