The spring for me always brings a heady mixture of anticipation, trepidation and high expectations for the coming trout season on Lough Sheelin, writes Brenda Montgomery in her latest report from Lough Sheelin…

Lough Sheelin trout
Enrico Fantasia, Dublin with his 61cm Sheelin trout, March 8th 2015

“Most of the world is covered by water. A fisherman’s job is simple: Pick out the best parts.”
 – Charles Waterman

Overwhelmed with an eagerness to get out there after the long winter months, once it hits March 1st, anglers in their restless enthusiasm to get out on to the lake often overlook the one abiding obstacle for early season fishing and this is of course the temperamental Irish weather.  This naturally applies to every other Irish lake but for Sheelin more so as the weather and the fishing are irrevocably entwined, a marriage where there can be no separation.

The weather during the week followed a fairly steady pattern of one day wet and windy and the next cold, frosty and bright.  Despite the natural challenges, Lough Sheelin fished well and each day (with the exception of Monday where southerly to westerly strong and gusty winds put a stop to boats getting out safely onto the water) saw at least ten boats on the lake with a predictable increase in numbers at the weekend.

Lough sheelin, waves
A stormy Lough Sheelin – March 9th, Crover

Some nice sized trout were caught (and mostly released) with a superb 7 lb hen trout taking the top weight for the week, caught (and released) by Aleksandrs Trifonovs.  Most anglers even if they didn’t land a fish certainly got a number of underwater pulls which gave them an appetite for a return visit.

6.61 lbs Sheelin trout
Aleksandrs Trifonovs with his 6.61 lbs Sheelin trout

Sheelin’s trout are still in winter mode and they are hungry, feeding in the lower water layers and traveling in shoals mainly in the shallows and bays.

We are still very much in early season and the night time temperatures this week dropped to a very wintry minus 4 on Friday night chilling the water and hampering the hatching of any fly.  With the cold the trout have a tendency to go down deeper in the water and with the absence of fly to bring these essentially subsurface feeders to the top it makes sense for the angler to use a sinking line and artificial flies/lures resembling as close as possible the food that the trout are eating which for now is predominantly freshwater shrimp, louse, snails and a variety of nymphs.

There is however hope in the horizon in that a handful of dark olives were seen hatching in some sheltered bays around the lake this week and fingers crossed this is a very good sign that spring is on schedule after all.

The fly that took top position over the past seven days has to be the Humungus.  Originally invented for the big brown trout of Loch Leaven in Scotland, this fly has traveled well on to the Irish lakes and for now can be fished with a steady confidence for early March on Sheelin.  This fly is best fished on a sinking line with a slow pull, letting the fly sink and rise in the water on retrieval.

The most successful way to go is using a tying in either black & gold for when the weather is bright and black & silver for when it is cloudy and dull, although D.C Angling & Guiding Services contradicted those colour combinations with last week’s top weight of almost 6lbs using a White Humungus.  The Humungus caries the title in fishing literature as ‘The devastating lure that will catch you more and bigger fish’ and with the profile, movement and flash that trout find irresistible it is worth a try before the fly life appears in earnest on this lake.

Fiery Brown Dabbler
Mick McShane’s Fiery Brown Dabbler (taken in the sunshine)

Putting the Humungus and all its variants to one side, the Dabbler is still proving to be highly effective on the lake.  The trout are hungry, but hunger isn’t the only reason why trout will take a fly, they also take it out of curiosity, out of aggression and out of defense of a territory and with this in mind there is an interesting and mind blowing collection of attractor fishing flies on the scene devised to bring out the wild trout’s natural aggression for the adventurous angler.

Ted Wherry’s Bibio
Ted Wherry’s Bibio – an exciting version for Sheelin

Straggler Ultra Violet – this straggler brings a modern twist to the Dabbler using the latest fly tying materials.  It is a great top dropper pattern that creates plenty of disturbance, the bright colours ensure that the fish can see it even in poor water clarity conditions (after high winds).  Snatcher Fiery Brown, a fly of Scottish decent has grown in popularity and can be particularly successful for wild brown trout.  It pays to have a duller more natural looking pattern in the middle when fishing attractor patterns.

Ted Wherry’s Silver Dabbler - apologies to Ted for last week’s report where his beautiful Silver Dabbler was inadvertently given credit to another fine fly tyer.  This mix up sadly reminded me of a famous saying by the late and great, Tony Fenton ‘don’t duplicate the dude, dude’ and of course nobody could duplicate Ted’s unique style
Ted Wherry’s Silver Dabbler – apologies to Ted for last week’s report where his beautiful Silver Dabbler was inadvertently given credit to another fine fly tyer. This mix up sadly reminded me of a famous saying by the late and great, Tony Fenton ‘don’t duplicate the dude, dude’ and of course nobody could duplicate Ted’s unique style

In cold and dull conditions a suggested combination would be a Straggler Sunburst UV at the top, a Snatcher Fiery Brown as the middle fly and at the point a black & Gold Humungus.  A good tip is to allow the fly to drop for a few seconds before pulling back fast.  The idea of this collection is to spark the trout’s aggression so the retrieve should be varied.  Fast jerky pulls and basically sticking the rod under your armpit and using both hands to strip the line hand over hand works best. The recommended line is a Di3 or possibly a Di5 depending on how far out in the lake you go.

 Sheelin trout of 2 ½ lbs
Barney Mulholland, Dundalk with his Sheelin trout of 2 ½ lbs

The most successful flies for this week were the Humungus, Minkies, Golden Olive Bumble, the Hare’s Ear, the Silver Dabbler, the Fiery Brown Dabbler, the Claret Dabbler, the Claret Bumble, Bibios, the Silver Invicta, the Connemara Black, Black Pennell and the Sooty Olive.

Nymph  by Graham Barker
Nymph by Graham Barker

The best areas for fishing was along the Western shore, around Chambers and Kilnahard and down along Crover depending on wind direction.

Cased caddis by Graham Barker
Cased caddis by Graham Barker

Selection of Catches

The heaviest fish for the week was a 7 pounder caught & released by Aleksandrs Trifonovs.

Total number of trout recorded: 31

  • Peter Boyle, Monaghan – 2 trout weighing in at 2 – 2 ½ lbs, fishing wets.
  • Enrico Fantasia, Dublin fishing with Gary McKiernan ( – 1 trout at 61cm on March 8th, caught on wets.
  • Peadar McAvinney, Clones – 2 trout at 2 ½ and 3 ½ lbs caught using a Humungus and a Minkie.
  • Dara Murtagh, Cavan – 1 trout at 4 lbs 4ozs on a Humungus, caught at Walkers.
  • Aleksandrs Trifonovs, Navan  – fishing with his friend, 8 trout, all released, largest was 3.2kgs, smallest weighed in at 1.8kgs.
  • Colin Dowling – 3 trout best weighed in at 3 lbs.
  • Gerry Peppard, Dublin – 1 trout at 3lbs using a Humungus.
  • Marlius Zakarus, Meath – 1 trout at 3.09 lbs.
7lb Sheelin trout
Aleksandrs Trifonovs with his 7lb Sheelin beauty (released)

If an angler is new to Sheelin or indeed new to trout fishing, really the only way to learn both the skill of fly fishing, the correct fly and the lake itself is to hire out a ghillie or guide.  It is money well spent as, as a rule devoted Sheelin anglers are notorious for not giving out their years of knowledge of this lake and who could blame them.  What always sticks in my mind is what I once overheard a disgruntled new comer to Sheelin say in his attempt to find out what flies to use – ‘the locals don’t like giving anything away, it’s a sort of secret fly dressing, only to be seen by the blind, heard by the deaf and given life to by the dead’ – my advice is that if you are inexperienced and new to this sport or to this lake, book yourself a day or two with a Sheelin guide and there are plenty of excellent ones around.

Brenda Montegomery
Inland Fisheries Ireland

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:

Competition and events notices

Richard Anthony Kilroy
Richard Anthony Kilroy with his Sheelin trout 1930 – the LSTPA’S first competition of the fishing year is in memory of this man. who lived close to Lough Sheelin all his life and was somewhat of an icon in that he was secretary of the Lough Sheelin Protection Association from the 1920’s to late 1960’s , he was a fanatical trout fisherman and a devotee of this lake.

The LSTPA will be holding a youth angling day out to Glenkeen trout fishery, Aughnacloy during the Easter holidays.  This day follows on from a previous successful excursion a few months ago.  For anyone interested in going on this day out please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033 for further details.

The first competition of the year – The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association will be hosting The Kilroy Cup on the lake on Saturday March 21st from 11.0 am 6pm, – starting from Kilnahard pier (members & new members welcome). Please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033 for further details.

The popular Sheelin Classic trout competition now in its 10th year will be run on Lough Sheelin on Easter Monday April 6th. The kick off time is 11am with a finish at 6pm. All boats should be on the shoreline and ready to go by 10.50am. There is a strict 15” size limit and the individual with the heaviest fish wins. There comes an impressive list of prizes with this competition with a 19ft Sheelin boat as a first prize. For further details please contact Noel McLoughlin at 087 – 2179460

House Rules

Jonathan Peppard, Dublin all set to go fishing
Jonathan Peppard, Dublin all set to go fishing

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

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

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

Please put on and keep on that life jacket until you are back on dry land. It won’t work if you are not wearing it.

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.

 Lough Sheelin
The rolling waves at Crover, Lough Sheelin making access onto the water difficult on Monday last
 Boats being taken in off Lough Sheelin at Kilnahard in the 1960’s
Boats being taken in off Lough Sheelin at Kilnahard in the 1960’s