Lough Sheelin Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI  5th to August 11th 2013

“The gods do not deduct from man’s allotted span the hours spent in fishing.”
~ Herber Hoover

Ken Kearns, Dundalk with his fine Sheelin trout

This week under sultry skies, fishing on Sheelin began to change, in that the trout began to show an interest in the flies rather than the previous weeks of seemingly endless feeding on fry.  The trout are still on the perch fry but the hard exclusive persistent rigidity of their diet has softened and the anglers are back in business again with some lovely catches of fish throughout the week culminating in a great catch of fish at the McDonald Cup competition held on Saturday last, August 10th.   Like the catchphrase ‘I’ll be back’ associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1984 film The Terminator, Sheelin is back with a promise of a great run up to the end of the season.  This magnificent lake rules supreme over its anglers in that it gave them a spectacular mayfly and then the trout seemingly had a rest from us all and a boost of food from the massive shoals of fry and now Sheelin is ready for everyone again.

As well as containing the much coveted ‘heavy weights’ Sheelin also has huge quantities of smaller fish – a lb and under and these are great to see as small fish grow into bigger fish.   These fish can provide the angler with plenty of sport but could perhaps stand in the way of bigger catches, as they persistently take the flies, some of which are nearly bigger than themselves.

Shane Brennan, Dublin with his Sheelin trout, August 9th

Tuesday was the pick of the week with good cloud cover, muggy warm conditions and plenty of movement of fish. Trout are still teasing anglers with their frequent pitching and their creation of tantalizing rippling rings on the water’s surface.  In the middle of the lake there was plenty of bulging and bashing of fry but the trout are showing a renewed interest in flies with sedges, dabblers, klinkhammers, peters, hoppers and fiery browns all landing some lovely fish.

The fishing has also changed from late evenings and early mornings to mid-morning and afternoon/early evening – 3 to 7pm.  This lake is almost exclusively governed by wind direction, fishing could be excellent one minute, then winds change, the sun comes out and in a flash all goes quiet and that’s it finished until another change.

There are extensive hatches of sedge and buzzer and the Daddy is starting to feature more and more as the weeks move on towards September.

The Daddy Long Legs is a big, ungainly but excellent trout fly that tumbles across the water.  These flies are great in Sheelin because the large expanse of water means that it’s too great a distance to fly across.  When a take does happen the angler must resist the temptation to strike, as the trout will often try to drown the fly first, before taking it in its mouth.  Good advice is to wait until the line starts to run out, then lift the rod high to set the hook, then the angler should drag the fly through a heavy ripple, or wave and the trout will often respond with a positive take.

Soon dapping will come into play on Sheelin which generally involves using a natural insect, a long rod and a floss silk blow line so the wind can carry the fly over the water to bob on and off the surface.  There is nothing as exciting as to see the torpedo-like shadow of a large trout tracking the dapped fly before a strike but it’s important not to strike too soon, some anglers advise to say ‘god save the king’ before striking…

The Emergers also had their fair amount of success on the lake this week.

Emerger flies imitate the in-between stage, when the fly is in the act of emerging from its nymphal shuck, case, or whatever. Emerger imitations are not fished under the surface, and they’re not fished on top of the water. Instead, they’re fished in the surface film of the water. The reason they are effective is because trout like emerging aquatic insects — they are more vulnerable than other stages. A nymph might escape the fish by swimming, or be swept away from the fish by a chance current. An adult, obviously, can fly away or skitter across the surface. The emerging insect is stuck — it’s trapped in the surface film, trying to get out onto the surface and into the air. Trout feeding just barely on the surface, so that they almost don’t make a ring in the water are probably dining on emergers.

Emergers are fished the same as fishing with dries, but they do sink a little — they don’t sink down deep, but they don’t exactly float on top, either. They can be tough to see, sometimes. Some patterns have a flash parachute or some other marker to make them more visible, but in general the angler just has to be on his toes. Cast them upstream of feeding trout and drift them over the fish – remembering that the emerger is supposed to have come up from the bottom to the surface. The fish should not see the emerger land on the water.

X- Caddis Emerger
X- Caddis Emerger
Deer Haired Emerger
Deer Haired Emerger


A lot of ordinary dry fly patterns have an emerger variant. A favorite is the X-Caddis, which is an ordinary Elk Hair Caddis with some white dacron or some other dangly tail that represents the nymphal shuck. Sometimes the trout just won’t come after a fully hatched adult caddis on the surface — maybe they get lazy. They want easier prey, a crippled or emerging caddis that is still struggling out of the water.

One of the many smaller trout in Lough Sheelin

A 3 pounder

Green Peter

Sheelin’s Tern Chicks

All anglers are aware of the Sheelin trout’s recent preoccupation with perch fry but leaving perch fry patterns to one side (as some anglers are actually catching perch fry using these patterns) what exactly are the best trout flies to use on Sheelin? this is a tricky question because it’s so very individualist but here are some suggestions from a number of experienced anglers –

The dry fly ‘purists’ swear by as small a sedge as possible with variations of green or amber threaded through the body. A rolled winged Greenwells Glory.  The Wickham’s Fancy is great at sedge time and arguably is one of the most effective flies ever invented (Dr T.CWickham and his friend and fly-tier Jack Hammond from Winchester had a communication problem, somewhere in 1884 and this fly was the result of this misunderstanding). The Red Arsed Green Peter, tied with Globrite No.4 as the tag, the Claret Dabbler, tied with black Claret – a claret dabbler or bumble on an overcast day and a Thunder & Lightening Bumble on a sunny day, the Pheasant Tail Nymph (wet), the Klinkhammer (dry), a Hare’s Ear and a Bibio.

David Reilly, Tullynallen with his 6 ¾ lb trout

Thunder & Lightening
Thunder & Lightening








Chairman of The LSPTA Frank Kelly presenting the McDonald Cup to the winner, Padar McAviney, Co.Monaghan

On Saturday last the local Sheelin angling club – The LSTPA hosted their annual McDonald Cup competition. It was an ideal fishing day with an overcast sky, a shower or two, warm temperatures and a corduroy ripple on the water’s surface.  This was a catch & release competition and this method has proved to be very successful from previous years and this Saturday left no one disappointed.  Anglers were a little dubious going out as the lake has been tough going for the past number of weeks but Sheelin stepped up to the mark and for the 27 entrants, 13 fish were measured with many more undersized trout not submitted.

The winner was Clones angler Padar McAviney with 3 trout at 50, 48 and 44cm, caught on the dries, heaviest caught on a claret dabbler.

2nd John Murphy, Crover 1 at 48cm on a dry Claret Hopper around Wilsons pt.

3rd John Mulvaney, Kells  1 at 46cm using a Pearly Invicta.

The best flies used this week were the small brown sedges (size 14), the Murrough, variants of the Green Peter, the Jack Flash, Greenwell’s Glory, Wickhams Fancy, the Dunkeld, the Alexandra, the Grey Duster , Dabblers, Hoppers, Sooty Olive, Bibio, Klinkhammers the Blae & Black, the Humugous and the Muddler.

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

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

There are a good selection of Sheelin ghillies/guides available and they are well worth investing in if angling visitors are unfamiliar with the lake, or perhaps haven’t that much fly fishing experience or maybe are a little ‘cut for time’ due to work or other commitments.  If one guide is unavailable it’s an absolute certainty that there will always another capable one to step into the breach.

The main ones are:

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) – a group of local anglers who were all practically reared on the lake.

Michael Kelly @ 087 2608068

Michael Farrell @ 087 41941456

Damien Willis @ www.Loughsheelinbuddies.com

The trout of the week was Padar McAviney’s trout of 50cm ( 4 ½ lb plus) on a Claret Dabbler

Total number of trout recorded: 48

Selection of Catches

Gerard McShane, Cornafean, Cavan – 1 trout at 45 cm on Saturday August 10th using a Sooty Olive.

Larry Tierney, Cavan – 4 trout averaging 1 ½ – 2 ½ lbs all caught on a dry sedge.

Jim Connors, Nobber – 3 trout heaviest at 3lbs, other 2 averaging 1 ½ lbs, all caught on the Peter.

Ned Clinton, Crover – on Tuesday August 6th fishing the wets – Claret Dabblers – 2 trout at 2 and 1 ½ lbs.

Padraig Shanley, Dublin – using a Green Peter 1 trout at 1 ½ lbs.

Gene Brady, Ballinagh – 1 trout at 2 ½ lbs on August 6th.

Shane Brennan, Dublin – 1 trout averaging 2 lbs plus on a dry sedge.

Frank Kelly, Cavan – 4 trout, heaviest at 3 lbs fishing a mix of wets and dries.

Andrew Brown, Dublin – 2 trout at 37 and 41 cm wet fly fishing on Saturday August 10th.

Brenda Montgomery IFI