Lough Sheelin Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI – April 14th to April 20th, 2014

Because only in the lake can I find solitude without loneliness…

Mel Krieger

Sheelin - Kilnahard, Lough Sheelin April 21stKilnahard, Lough Sheelin April 21st

It was tough going for the Sheelin anglers on the lake for most of this week. Bright sunshine dominated every day with little or no cloud cover. Evening time on the bank holiday Monday was the pick of the fishing time during the week, with the warmth of the day unusually stretching beyond six o’clock and into night fall, this particular evening gave us a taste of what was to come with good hatches of buzzer, a pink streaked sky, a slight ripple to the water and that much longed for summer evening feel and of course that ultimate excitement building inside each angler that the mayfly is on its way.
They say patience is a virtue but it was hard to be patient as Sheelin remained at least for the best part of this week still stuck firmly in that in-between phase when the trout seem to have ‘gone off’ and all the anglers are being subjected to is sunburn, as one angler good humoredly put it after a long day on the lake ‘all three of us came back with red heads, red necks and red hands and no fish but sure it’s not called catching, it’s called fishing’.

Sheelin - Peter Boyle, MonaghanPeter Boyle, Monaghan –warming up for The Ulster Fly Fishing Championship with his 6 pounder caught on April 25th.

The trout still remain seemingly wielded to the lower water columns, probably feeding on mayfly nymph, hog louse and the like and with the lack of consistent warmth the fly life didn’t take off as such and although there were some hatches of buzzer and just a scattering of olives it was a bit patchy. The olive and buzzer fishing is normally the prelude into the serious fly fishing activity on the lake. These sturdy little flies are a pleasure to fish whether wet in small sizes or dry on the top of the water to the hopefully many free rising fish.

Camera 360Ghillie Michael Farrell releasing his fish

This was the story on the lake up to Thursday and then there was a noticeable change on Lough Sheelin in that the buzzer hatch increased and there were big hatches of olives particularly around the Bog Bay/Sailors Garden end of the lake.

It was like as if someone had pressed a button and Sheelin had moved up a gear.

Sheelin - An Olive relaxing in the sun  An Olive relaxing in the sun






There was a noticeable increase in anglers on the lake in the later part of the week and this could probably be attributed to a number of anglers taking a practice run before the hotly contested Ulster Fly Fishing Championships which was held on the lake on Saturday April 26th. On this day the weather had changed radically with grey skies interspersed with bright harsh sunshine, squally showers and a biting east wind cutting across the lake like a banshee’s tongue. With the challenging weather conditions, the previous weeks sluggish fishing because of the trout’s preference to lower depth feeding and the only recent increase in fly life on the lake it was hard not to have a few misgivings as the seventy anglers geared up to fish this qualifying competition. When the starter gun sounded to the bystander it resembled like our own version of the charge of the Light Brigade as most of the competitors headed up towards the Eastern side of the lake in a blur of waves and boats, foam and driving rain.
The competition finished at 6pm and by then all reservations and misgivings had been discarded to be replaced by a kind of euphoria as Sheelin rose to the challenge to give its Erne, Melvin and Sheelin anglers some excellent catches of beautiful heavy weight trout with plenty of ‘ones that got away’ and lots of fish pitching and showing themselves to the competitors. It was by no means easy fishing weather and several anglers had to change casts as well as position but despite all this all the anglers were reminded of what this lake is capable of and why it has deservedly earned the reputation of being Ireland’s jewel in the fishing crown as it made its mark by producing those reputed wild Sheelin heavy weights.

Sheelin - A delighted David MarshellA delighted Andrew Marshell, Hillsborough sweeping the board at the Ulster Fly Fishing Competition claiming the Ulster Cup as well as the Cup for the heaviest fish.

Over 70 anglers entered this competition with over 40 fish being recorded. Andrew Marshell from Hillsborough won the event with his 59 cm trout. Andrew also caught two more fish at 2 and 4lbs.
18 anglers qualified from this competition and will go forward to fish the Inter Provincial on Lough Lene in August.

Sheelin - Kenneth O’Keefe, Cavan with his Sheelin trout of 3lbKenneth O’Keefe, Cavan with his Sheelin trout of 3lb, caught on Dabber on April 25th

Sheelin - Lawrence Finney’s DabblersSheelin - Lawrence Finney’s Dabblers (2)Lawrence Finney’s Dabblers – a winning team on Sheelin

Sheelin - The BuzzerThe Buzzer

We are entering the season of the buzzer fishing on Sheelin and for some anglers this can be an exciting time while others might find it a little unpredictable. The life cycles of the buzzer can be imitated with a good degree of accuracy as they hatch out on virtually every day of the year. This means that the buzzer, in one stage of the life-cycle or another is pretty much always an option for a hungry trout. Because of this availability, the classic profile of the buzzer nymph, or pupa, is indelibly stamped into the trout’s memory bank, so even on days when there’s not a buzzer to be seen, trout will be helpless to resist and will instinctively accept a nicely presented artificial.
Some of the buzzer hatches will be localized and may not be spotted unless fishing in that area. Buzzer hatches can be spotted, by either looking for the adult fly, or finding the spent pupa bodies (shucks) in the surface water film.

Sheelin - Brian McAvinney with his 3 ½ troutBrian McAvinney with his 3 ½ trout caught Monday April 21st

There is no definitive list to what are good or bad flies but on Sheelin the flies that are proving themselves time and time again are the Dabblers (Claret, Silver, Peter Ross and Fiery Brown) also Dabbler variants created by anglers who study the insect life on Sheelin, the Bibios, Hare’s Ear nymphs, Pheasant Tail nymphs, Silver Invicta, Black Pennell, Bloody Butcher, Peter Ross, Black Zulu, Buzzer patterns and a selection of Bumbles. Also the lures that have featured strongly over the past number of weeks used on a sinking line are the black and gold Humungous and the Minkies.

Sheelin - Back with a splashBack with a splash, Lough Sheelin guiding (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) releases another of its catches to make some other angler’s day.

Sheelin - Karl O’Toole, Dublin with his 4lb 10ozKarl O’Toole, Dublin with his 4lb 10oz Sheelin trout, April 21st

Please remember anglers to abide by BYE-LAW 790 which strictly prohibits

• All trolling on the lake from March 1st to April 30th (inclusive).
• From May 1st to June 15th – no trolling between 7pm –6am and no trolling under engine between 6am – 7pm and
• June 16th – October 12th – no trolling under engine between 7pm – 6am.
• No trout less than 14 inches should be taken from the lake.

Sheelin - Kenneth O’Keefe 2014 winner of the Sheelin Classic’s 19ft boatKenneth O’Keefe 2014 winner of the Sheelin Classic’s 19ft boat
Declan McCabe (sponsor), Kenneth O’Keefe (winner), Daniel Conaty (chairperson of Kells anglers) and Noel McLoughlin (organizer, Kells)

Sheelin - save the Brown TroutA catch & release policy is actively encouraged on the lake at all times

Sheelin - Catch & Release circle
Most of the fish featured in these angling reports are returned carefully and safely to the lake

Sheelin - Andy Mitchell releasingAndy Mitchell releasing his 3 ¾ lb trout back into SheelinSheelin - Catch & Release badge





Water rarely gives second chances and a life jacket is just that – it saves your life, so we would implore anglers and all other users for their own safety as well as it being the law under

SI No 921 of 2005 – Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005

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

Sheelin - Little cartoonThere 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.
Lough Sheelin Guiding Services (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) 087 1245927

Michael Farrell @ 087 4194156Telephone: +353 43 6681298 Email: [email protected]



Sheelin - Rising Trout PhotographyRising Trout Photography by Oystein Rossebo

Please remember All anglers are required to have a Fishery Permit to fish Lough Sheelin which must be purchased before going out on the lake.

The heaviest fish for the week was a 6 lb plus trout caught by Peter Boyle, Monaghan

Total number of trout recorded: 78

Selection of CatchesLough Sheelin - Laughing fisherman
Karl O’Toole, Dublin – 1 trout at 4lbs 10ozs on April 21st.
Thomas Lynch, Cavan – 1 trout fishing wets, weighing in at 4lbs, April 25th.
Jack Spratt, Enniskellan – 1 trout at 4 lbs 12ozs using a Green Peter.
Albert Berry, Enniskellan – 1 trout at 3lbs using a Fiery Brown Dabbler.
John McGurl – 1 trout at 3lbs on a Claret Hopper.
Pat Burns, Kingscourt, Cavan – using a selection of Dabblers, 1 trout at 3lbs.
Des McCullough, Belfast – 3 trout at 5lbs on a Humungus and 3lbs and 2 ¾ lbs using Dabblers
Paul Hamilton – fishing with Thomas Lynch 1 trout at over 5lbs on April 26th.
Thomas Rooney, Warren point – 2 trout at 2 and 2lbs 6 ozs (released) caught using a Humungus.
Freddy Steele, Banbridge – 2 trout both weighing in at 2 ½ lbs each caught and released using a Golden Dabbler.
Martin McCoy, Derry – 2 trout using a Dabbler weighing in at 4 ¼ and 2 ¼ lbs, both released.
Niall Benwick, Dublin – 1 trout at 1 ¾ lbs using a Sooty Dabbler (released).
Billy Graham, Banbridge – 1 trout at 1 ¾ lbs using a Golden Olive Dabbler.
Jim Entwhistle, Carrick Fergus – 1 trout at 48cm using Dabblers.

Sheelin - Standing angler shadow

Sheelin - Doggy cartoon

Brenda Montgomery IFI