‘Fly-fishing for wild trout on quiet waters must be one of the toughest and craziest ways to catch fish ever invented by man, as well as among the most magical and exhilarating’ … John Voelker

Ciaran Newman, Mullingar at Kilnahard, Lough Sheelin with his winning trout of almost 5lbs at the LSTPA River Rehabilitation Competition
Ciaran Newman, Mullingar at Kilnahard, Lough Sheelin with his winning trout of almost 5lbs at the LSTPA River Rehabilitation Competition on Saturday October 4th

The first days of October and autumn beckons with winter like a dark shadow in the background.  The trout season ended on most lakes on September 30th but Sheelin’s cut off date is October 12th.  There was a time when trout fishing in October was frowned upon but whether it is due to changing weather patterns or social morals, times have changed and for many trout anglers from all over Ireland, sneaking that extra day or two on a crisp autumn morning or even a soggy rain dampened yellow leafed afternoon, always seems that little bit special.  This is the month that the Sheelin trout will be on the move, heading towards and into those rivers and streams that run like veins through the lake’s surrounding catchment, to spawn.  The trout will be feeding fast and furious in preparation for the winter ahead and for Sheelin up until now that feeding has been done mainly in the deep, avoiding the warm surface layers, a byproduct of our recent Indian summer.

Sheelin Lady
Sheelin Lady

 ‘Summer days, summer nights are gone/I know a place where there’s still something going on’ lines from a Bob Dylan song, summer has left the building but with the change in weather at the end of the week Sheelin started to come to life as fish gradually started to surface for food, making themselves very visible to the anglers by flashy splashy rises.

6.5lb trout
Greg Miller, Wales with his Sheelin 6 ½ pounder (62cm)

This week saw an increase of anglers particularly from October 1st onwards partially because of the close of other trout lakes but also as a practice run for the Sheelin River Rehabilitation competition hosted by the local angling club the LSTPA which was held on Saturday, October 4th.

Jack Egan on Lough Sheelin
Jack Egan, Cavan with his Sheelin trout of almost 5lbs caught on a Claret Dabbler, September 29th 2014

Predominantly fishing was still very tough going for most of the week because of the dry consistent warmth.  There were lots of rises and showing of trout but few opportunities of takes for the anglers.  There was good movement of fish around Curry Point but again few rises to the vast selection of flies being cast out on to the water by the hopeful angler.

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

September heading into October places the lake just at the tail end of the terrestrial season with just a bit of good dry fly opportunity left.  There are still plenty of fish willing to look up but temperatures play a consistently important role in their willingness to commit to the fly in the film.  Hoppers and Daddies in the calm and Detached Daddies with easy legs landed a few nice trout during the week but in all other cases it was all about luck and having that fly in the right place at the right time when the trout was looking up.  A Silver Daddy on the point, Claret Bling in the middle and a Stimulator on the top dropper proved to be a deadly trio for one angler, bring in a steady number of fish for him throughout the week.  The Stimulator is a good fly to have on the top dropper and the scruffier you have this one the better, you don’t want this fly tied too neatly as its job is create a surface disturbance and a good wake to attract the trout and make them look look upwards, the ideal Stimulator looks as if it’s been used a few times before – an almost disheveled, past it’s sell by date appearance… There were huge numbers of sedges but they were all in the bushes along the shoreline and only a smattering ventured out on to the water causing a short rise of fish.

Tommy Rush and Dessie McEntee
Tommy Rush, Armagh being presented with the McIntyre/Guider cup by Dessie McEntee (Cavan Anglers)

It sounds a statement of the obvious but it gets dark earlier than you think so a small torch is a great help for tying on that last fly at dusk as you squeeze the end of the fishing day to a finish.  Although there hasn’t been much fly on the water over the past weeks, now we are into October there is even less, so matching the hatch for the dry fly angler is easier.

Midges or ‘buzzers’ are incredibly prolific and are most apparent on the lake in calm bays particularly around Bog Bay, Goreport and the Sailors Garden, the trout weren’t that interested in surfacing for these but an odd one did rise so a buzzer pattern strategically place did get some anglers an occasional take.

All fly casting, no matter how descriptive and analytical the directions and teachings, must finally conclude kinesthetically – that is by feel – Mel Krieger

The Stimulator
The Stimulator – a great fly at creating a wake to attract a trout, fished on the top dropper in a team of three with a Silver Daddy on the point and a Claret Fly in the middle.

Flies that worked well this week were  the Klinkhammers (14-16), Pheasant Tail Nymph, Buzzer (14-16), the Stimulator, the Dabblers (Silver, Peter Ross, Claret and Green), the Glister Ollie, the Silver Invicta, the Detached Daddy, the Silver Daddy, the Bibio, Silver Humungus, Hoppers, Golden Olive Bumble, Green Peter,  Muddlers. Olives and the Black Pennell.

For wet fly fishing it is still really whatever is the anglers favourite fly, the ‘tried and trusted’ , a fly which is repeatedly used will inevitably catch fish.

Ted Wherryon Lough Sheelin with his trout
Ted Wherry, Lincolnshire with 4 ½ lbs of Sheelin magic, caught September 29th
On a Claret Dabbler

Lough Sheelin River Rehabilitation competition

On Saturday October 4th The Lough Sheelin Protection Association hosted their annual Lough Sheelin River Rehabilitation competition, this event attracted over three hundred anglers from all over Ireland including a smattering from England.  Fishing conditions were difficult, with bright harsh sunshine and cold winds remaining throughout the day.  All anglers saw plenty of fish but consistent to previous weeks fishing this lake, it was all very tough going. This angling club imposed a 16 “ limit on the day, which more than reflected the confidence these anglers have in the large fish that Sheelin has a reputation for.  Lough Sheelin didn’t disappoint and despite everything, some very nice trout were brought in with Mullingar angler Ciaran Newman taking first prize with his fish of 4lbs 15.8ozs. There was great comradeship and good humour throughout the day and credit should go to this seemingly tireless club in their persistent support and vision of this great lake.  All proceeds of this competition are invested back into the rehabilitation and enhancement of rivers within the Lough Sheelin catchment

Boats ready to go
Before the start – the LSTPA’s River Enchancement Competition – Kilnahard, October 4th

Up-Coming Events

The Cavan/Monaghan Garda Divisional Fly Fishing Championship and Open Competition – Sunday October 12th from Kilnahard Pier, fishing from 11am to 6pm.  Competition is for the heaviest fish (visitors) and the heaviest fish (Cavan/Monaghan Garda members), presentation of prizes and refreshment dinner at Crover House Hotel at 7pm sharp.  Any queries please contact Dessie McEntee on 047 77216 or 086 8937568.

In memoriam

It is with great sadness, shock and a feeling of disbelief that I write about the sudden and unexpectant death of long time Sheelin angler and friend – Sean McIntyre on Thursday last October 2nd.

Sean who had a caravan at Chambers on the shores of the lake, spent a lifetime on and around Lough Sheelin.  He had a deep, genuine and unshakable love of this lake.  The June 3rd – June 9th2013 angling  report quote ‘heaven is a place on earth’ came out of a conversation I had with him about the mayfly fishing on Sheelin.  His death feels like a piece of Sheelin has gone forever. A minutes silence was held at Saturdays LSTPA Sheelin River Rehabilitation competition as a mark of respect for this unforgettable Sheelin angler who died beside a lake which meant everything to him.

A view of Lough Sheelin
A minutes silence was held at Saturdays LSTPA Sheelin River Rehabilitation competition as a mark of respect for the passing of Sean McIntyre

The catches..,.

The heaviest fish for the week was caught by Gary McCiaran a  7lb, 64cm trout

Total number of trout recorded for the week:  45

Selection of Catches                 

Some of the results of Saturday’s River rehabilitation competition were:

Anto Donnelly 2lbs, Gearoid Kirwn 2lbs 11ozs (on a Silver Humungus), Kevin Rooney 3lbs 1oz, Jeffrey Highland 3lbs 6ozs, Michael McKiernan 3lbs 9ozs, Pat Noonan 2lbs 4ozs, Peter Byrne3lbs 9ozs, Mary Harkin 2lbs 13ozs, Feithin McMorrow 2lbs 13ozs, Noel Moran 2lbs 6ozs, Paul Rush 3lbs, John Burke 2lbs 1oz, P.Waterworth 2lbs 3ozs, Des Foley 1lb 12ozs, John Finn 2lbs 5ozs, Niall Lutton 2lbs 1oz, Frank Kelly 2lbs 12ozs, John Baker 2lbs 3ozs, Darren Magar 2lbs 7ozs, John Mulvaney 2lbs 9ozs, Michael Sheridan1lb 4ozs, Dara Murtagh 2lbs 4ozs, Chris Meadows 3lbs 7ozs, Adrian Boyle 2lbs, Gary Binley 2lbs 7ozs and Padar McAvinny 2lbs 1oz.

Jermaine Clarke, Dublin – 1 trout at 3lbs on Thursday October 2nd on a Silver Dabbler.

Pat Brady, Cavan – 1 trout at 2 ¾ lbs on a Silver Invicta at the back of Church Island.

Damian Feeney, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 3 ½ lbs fishing around Goreport on a Silver Daddy.

Go fishing…

A permit is required to fish on Lough Sheelin which can be purchased online.  A list of distributors can be seen here.

  • No 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 – Catch and Release is encouraged for all anglers
  • For more information see Fishing on Lough Sheelin



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