Soon after I embraced the sport of angling I became convinced that I should never be able to enjoy it if I had to rely on the cooperation of the fish.” Sparse Grey Hackle

The fishing for this week on Lough Sheelin regardless of how you try to twist and turn it was difficult, challenging and frustrating and although this is of absolutely no consolation to the Lough Sheelin trout anglers, it’s all down to the weather.  This week the weather was more than unkind for trout angling with nightly frosts and day time cold, coupled with the chill of North and Westerly winds with the weekend closing in with bright harsh sunlight and evening temperature drops.

Crover Shore, Lough Sheelin
Crover Shore, Lough Sheelin

Without sounding like a broken record, the fishing here isn’t good because the water temperature in this lake is still too cold, the fly hatches are patchy due to the lack of that soft daytime and evening warmth and the trout are still lying deep for the simple reason being that with the off putting bright sunlight and no surface food there is simply nothing to entice these fish up to feed surface or indeed sub surface.

A Sheelin beauty caught by Dublin angler, Mick Kelly on the Chernoble
A Sheelin beauty caught by Dublin angler, Mick Kelly on the Chernoble

Last year’s fishing was different with a good March and then a slowing down in April before an early Mayfly but last year the weather was different and we need to remember that. The trout don’t suddenly switch from behaving in one particular way to another, simply because the date changes.  The point is trout do suddenly switch behaviours but this is not because they are familiar with the calendar, it’s because of what’s happening in the environs surrounding them (and also they want to frustrate us, keep us interested and, well, because they are trout).

ough Sheelin Guiding
Gary McKiernan of Lough Sheelin Guiding making difficult conditions look not difficult with this beautiful Sheelin trout caught during the week.

I had two anglers call in to the office during  the week, the first guy was brimming over with (his) first day of the season enthusiasm ‘live in hope’ he happily told  me only to have his friend (who had fished the lake a number of times previously) mutter the end of that phrase ‘die in despair’.

Lough Sheelin’s water levels are only gradually receding – April 17th
Lough Sheelin’s water levels are only gradually receding – April 17th

Anglers fishing this lake should not despair, annual tests show that Lough Sheelin is full of well-conditioned trout, ‘thick from top to tail’ with results indicating an increase in numbers every year.  Sheelin’s trout population is alive and well and ready for its anglers.  To con an old angling phrase ‘fishing is called fishing and not catching’ and as irritating as this can be at times when you’re drawing a blank, it is true so with the knowledge that the fish are there, it is down to skill and luck to land that Sheelin prize but when you do it will all be worth it and that’s a guarantee.

Selection of Catches

There were a few fishing moving mid-week and small hatches of duck fly and the sighting of an odd dark green Olive but nothing really to get the heart racing.  One Dublin angler came across a nice little ‘pod’ of fish close to the entrance of a river into the lake and spent a few happy hours there, landing 3 trout over 3lbs for himself.  Most anglers report that although fish are showing occasionally they are hard to get.

The heaviest fish for the week was a 7 pounder by angler Aleksei Vacietis. Total number of trout recorded for the week –  25     

  • David Troy, Antrim – 2 trout, heaviest 3lbs using a Fiery Brown Dabbler and a Silver Dabbler.
  • Dean Kearns, Dundalk – 1 trout at 3lbs on a black & silver Humungus.
  • Mark Smith, Cavan – 2 trout at 3 and 3 ½ lbs using Silver Dabblers and a Sooty Olive.
  • Karlis Polis, Dublin – 4 trout averaging in weight 3 to 5 ½ lbs.
  • Leonidis Krievukalej, Navan – 6 trout for the week averaging 2 ½ to 5lbs.
‘The Line Up’ – boats at Crover waiting for the Mayfly to begin
‘The Line Up’ – boats at Crover waiting for the Mayfly to begin

The flies…

We are progressing towards the last week in April and towards the much anticipated mayfly season. The month of April is in many angling circles believed to be one of the easiest months (although I have never found this to be the case on Sheelin) because the fish tend to be somewhat naïve in their feeding habits, If an angler is lucky enough to come across a fish usually whatever fly or lure is on will be taken, trout are not particularly choosy about which fly is being used and persistence during this month actually seems to pay off.

There were a variety of concoctions used this week but the Humungus and Minkies are still the ones that are landing the big trout, fished on a di3.  The epoxy Buzzer fished with a long line in a team of three using an intermediate line worked its magic for Dublin angler David Magee who landed a 4 pounder in Goreport on Monday last.  The Dabblers are there as well with Silver, Peter Ross, Claret, Peachy and Fiery Brown dominating.  Flies with bright colours featured with Mick Kelly’s Chernoble catching fish when most anglers were crashing and drawing blanks.

Other patterns were the Bumbles, Bibio Variants, Stimulators, Gold Humungus, Cormorant, Duck fly patterns and the Sooty Olive.

The Dunkeld was first recorded in ‘A Book on Angling’ by Francis Francis 1867 and started life as a salmon fly but soon proved its worth as an attractor pattern for trout on both rivers and lakes.  This fly has proved itself on Sheelin and pops its head up now and then throughout the season as being responsible for some heavy weight catches.

A blast from the past

Wesley Harper tying flies in his caravan home at Kilnahard, Lough Sheelin (1975)
Wesley Harper tying flies in his caravan home at Kilnahard, Lough Sheelin (1975)

Brenda Montegomery
Inland Fisheries Ireland

For anyone interested in joining Lough Sheelin’s Angling Club – The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033.

Go fishing…

A permit is required to fish Lough Sheelin. Buy your permit online or from any of the permit distributors listed here.

Guides and ghillies

Grey Duster Guiding
Kenneth O’Keeffe
086 8984172 Email: [email protected]

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services
Tel: 087 1245927 Web:

D.C Angling & Guiding Services
contact David @ 087 73946989

Michael Farrell
Tel: 087 4194156 or  +353 43 6681298
Email: [email protected]

Michael Flanagan,
Trout and Pike Guide.
Email: [email protected] Web:

House Rules

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

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
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


It won’t work if you are not wearing it.
It won’t work if you are not wearing it.

Life jackets are required by law – SI No 921 of 2005 – Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005.

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.

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