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

Fly-fishing is this great adventure we have in a thousand little episodes

Paul Schullery

Sheelin - 4 year old Caoimhe Sheridan, all ready for a day out fishing‘First day out on Lough Sheelin’ – 4 year old Caoimhe Sheridan, all ready for a day out fishing

This was a testing week for the Sheelin anglers.  Cold nights and bright hard sunlight featured on most days which made fishing challenging.  Temperatures rose to a tropical 16 – 17 degrees only to plummet to a wintery 1 -2 degrees after nightfall. Thursday saw the first appearance of the long awaited olives on the lake and there were some good hatches of buzzer in sheltered areas.  Despite this encouraging first real beginning of fly life on the lake, we are still nonetheless stuck this week in that no man’s land between early season and buzzer/olive fishing.

The fish are still feeding deep and are in that transitional phase from depth to subsurface/surface feeding.  We need a soft mildness which remains constant during the day and throughout the night, as this consistent mildness will improve fly hatches dramatically and bring Sheelin’s fish up out of the lower water column.

The heat during the day has felt like a false heat with that underlying coldness seeping through when the sun disappeared.  The season is still pushing forward and the first sighting of the swallows skimming close to the water’s surface is a reminder that the heart racing main fly fishing season is just around the corner.

Although this lake’s fishing appears to be in a bit of a dip, some anglers however did have good fishing and reported ‘great sport’ with wild hard fighting fish.  The Sheelin trout are strong and feisty and have consistently tested every angler’s skill which has been particularly true over the past five or six days.

Anglers in general believe that sunlight is not conducive to good fishing because fish avoid the sunlight because the bright sunlight hurts their eyes but this is only partially true.  Fish don’t have eye lids but the light from the bright sun doesn’t hurt their eyes and we know this because there are many species of fish that don’t avoid bright light. Trout avoid bright sunlight not because it hurts their eyes but for other reasons.  The trout prefer to hide from their predators in dark shaded areas or they prefer to hide as predators themselves.  Brown trout have excellent low light level vision compared to their prey and they prefer to feed during low light levels particularly during evening, early morning and cloudy conditions.

CJames Greaves, Cork with one of his wild Sheelin trout (released)

The Sheelin trout over the past number of days are still feeding in the lower levels of the water and lures, the Humungus and the Minkies are what’s landing the big trout.

The epoxy Buzzer did well this week for some anglers.  This buzzer is more suited to lakes with deep holes (which Sheelin doesn’t have) but fished with a long line in teams of up to as many as six on an intermediate or floating line can bring its own degree of success as Dublin angler, Vincent Doran proved with his 5lb 10oz prize.

A variety of flies were used with varying degrees of success, the Dabblers are still featuring heavily with some Buzzers and Bibio variants landing trout of 2 lb plus but these are sporadic and not a constant unlike those lures.

CA fine 3lb plus trout caught & released by ghillie Michael Farrell on April 17th

Sheelin - The elusive Olive



The elusive Olive

Sheelin - Ned Clinton with a perfect 1 lb trout safely releasedSheelin - Craig Sheridan, Bray with his 2 pounder‘Back he grows’  Ned Clinton with a perfect 1 lb trout safely released and Craig Sheridan, Bray with his 2 pounder

Sheelin - Mini  Golden HumongousA contradiction in terms a “mini” Golden “humongous” Tied on a Short Shank # 6 so Shank same length as a B170/175 # 10 but nice wide gape . Body : Gold Holographic Dubbing , Rib : Gold Wire , Hackle : Golden Grizzle , Eyes : Metal Bead Chain , Tail : Black Marabou and few strands of the Gold Holo Dubbing.  Great for catching those big lumps of Sheelin trout.

Sheelin - The Catching crewThe Catching crew

Sheelin - The  Peachy DabblerSheelin - The Peter Ross Bumble
The Peter Ross Bumble                              The  Peachy Dabbler

The  Sheelin  Classic

The Sheelin Classic was held on Sheelin on Saturday last, April 19th with a record number of ninety anglers fishing this competition.  Hosted by the Kells anglers this popular fishing event in previous years was held later in the season usually in June but because of the hot weather and blazing sunshine which was particularly apparent last year, the date was moved to a ‘supposedly’ cooler month.  But it seems as if bright sunshine follows this competition around and this year despite the change of month saw no different with bright sunshine throughout the day and less than favourable fishing conditions.  As the organizer Noel McLoughlin wryly joked ‘if you want to make hay always pick the date that the Sheelin Classic is on’…Despite the difficulties that the weather threw up this competition ran well and anglers in general were pleased with their day on the water. Most anglers saw fish and the winning fish of 5.41 lbs caught by Kenneth O’Keefe made for an impressive end to the day.

Sheelin - Kenneth O’Keefe, CavanKenneth O’Keefe, Cavan with his Classic winning fish of 5.41 lbs using a Minkie

2nd place went to Gordon Law, Northern Ireland with a 4.23 lb fish and 3rd was taken by Declan Conlon with a beauty of 3.55 lbs.

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

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

Sheelin - Andy Mitchell releasing his fishSheelin - Catch & Release badgeAndy Mitchell releasing his 3 ¾ lb trout back into Sheelin

This year it feels as if the winter has gone on forever, with the seemingly relentless cold, wet and wind and then all of a sudden this week we get a glimpse of the summer, with soaring temperatures and long days of sunshine.  Lough Sheelin stretches out invitingly in front of us, sparkling and alluring, its holiday time and in the heat of the moment and wrapped up in the excitement of getting out on that water it is all too easy not to put on a life jacket.  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

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

Cartoon anglerUpcoming Competitions             

On Saturday April 26th The Ulster will be hosted on Lough Sheelin.  This prestigious event was last hosted on this lake in 2009 so we welcome its return.  The Ulster is normally run on a rota system between Lough Erne, Lough Melvin and Lough Sheelin.  To enter anglers must be a member of the Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association or be affiliated to a Northern Ireland trout angling club.  The winner of this competition will be officially the best fly angler in Ulster for the year and will be awarded the Ulster cup.

For further information please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033

Sheelin - Misty anglerSheelin - 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 - Splash troutRising 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 an impressive 6 lb trout caught using a buzzer by William Craig

Total number of trout recorded: 31

Selection of Catches             

Vincent Doran, Glasnevin, Dublin – using an epoxy buzzer with a red backing, 1 trout at 5lbs 10ozs.

James Greeves, Cork (ghillied by Michael Farrell) – 10 trout over 3 days (all released) averaged 2 ½ – 3 ½ lbs, wild and in great condition.

Gary Connor, Armagh – 1 trout at 2.94 lbs using Dabblers.

Alan Molloy ghillied by Gary McKiernan – April 16th, 2 trout heaviest was 2lbs.

Vinny O’Connell, Dundalk – using wet flies, 1 trout at 5 ¼ lbs.

David Troy, Antrim – 3 trout, heaviest was 3lbs using Claret and Peter Ross Dabblers.

Dean Kearns, Dundalk – 1 trout at 2lbs using wet flies.

Andrew Doyle, Kells – April 19th fishing wets 1 trout at 2.38 lbs.

Michael Farrell, Finea – 6 trout averaging 3 – 4 lbs, all released.

Gerard McSeain, Cavan – Saturday April 19th, 1 trout at 1.45 lbs.

Martin Connor, Armagh and Noel McLoughlin, Kells – 3 trout fishing wet flies, heaviest was 3 ½ lbs.

Gary McKiernan (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) – April 15th fishing wet flies, 2 trout heaviest weighed in at over 2 lbs.

Brenda Montgomery IFI