Lough Sheelin Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI June 29th to July 5th 2015

“Yet Ireland remains on her own. It is as though geography and climate, history and accident have all combined in some mysterious alchemy to make the perfect place in which to go fishing.”  – David Street – Fishing in Wild Places

Evening Fishing - Rusheen Bay, Lough Sheelin

Evening Fishing – Rusheen Bay, Lough Sheelin 

With water levels dropping and water temperatures rising, clear skies and the warmth of summer combined to make this a sluggish week for fishing on Lough Sheelin.

Angling numbers were sparse during the day as the barometer glass rose and the temperatures stretched into the mid- twenties and the surface water was transformed into a silent reflective sheet of glass.

As Lough Sheelin gently moves away from its mayfly season, traditionally angling numbers on this lake drop dramatically and this year was no exception.

To be blunt (and perhaps a little presumptuous) the majority of anglers only want Sheelin for its mayfly fishing – these do not come under the heading of dedicated trout anglers more transient ones, but this is perfectly alright as this lake is not an excluding lake, it is a lake for everyone.  Dedicated brown trout anglers are few in numbers, because trout fishing outside the mayfly is difficult and restricted to smaller windows of opportunity in the evening and at night.  The morning also can be good for caenis fishing but many will not consider it due to the small size of the natural and the delicacy that is necessary to fish this tiny mayfly effectively.  Fine leaders, small hooks and lighter tackle is a must or the small hook will open on the strike.

So what has happened on Sheelin for this week?

For the first week in July it was all about evening and night time fishing and the sedge particularly the Murrough was an ‘after dark’ affair with anglers settling in shallow areas, at the back of islands and along sheltered shorelines.

Caenis frequently referred to as the ‘Anglers Curse’ kept the Sheelin anglers on their toes for this week by providing some great early morning and some late evening fishing.  The welcome increase in heat this week and therefore water temperature brought on the caenis hatches, in some places of biblical proportions and the lake became alive as the trout rose to mop up these white/cream coloured flies. Caenis is tricky because it very rarely elicits selective feeding and when the trout are on them, it can be notoriously difficult to match them because they are often much smaller than a size 28. Trout take caenis sitting in the film and more than one at a time.  Sometimes they will take the shuck and a size 16 all black will and did catch fish for this week.  Accurate casting is the key to success and pulling a lure (like a Harray Cat) across their line of vision spurs them into an aggressive response – this worked well for Scottish angler David Grey when he landed a 4 pounder at the back of Church Island in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

For other times a more subtle approach is needed for caenis with perhaps using a buoyant pattern like a Hares Ear Emerger in middle position which might jolt the trout out of their fixation on the naturals.

Another good point fly is the Olive Brown Suspender but again the accuracy of the cast is all important and also the ability to gauge what direction the fish are travelling as Caenis feeding trout can travel in a most random fashion and rarely in a straight line.  Two other good Caenis flies are Last Hope (size 16-18) and Pale Watery (size 18-20).. It’s all a trial and error process with a good dollop of patience and perseverance thrown in as sometimes this is the only fly the trout will look at for hours on end.  Another fact to take into consideration was that the trout could be after Caenis nymph which are notoriously difficult to see but which the trout adore and when they are in this rhythm of feeding they are as good as uncatchable.

The Olive Brown suspenderThe Olive Brown Suspender

Callum, Nathan with dad David Reilly heading out for some Sheelin fishingCallum, Nathan with dad David Reilly heading out for some Sheelin fishing

Sheelin now offers a heady mixture of aquatic insects with each day offering trout catching potential at some point.  This month forces its anglers to constantly think analytically about what they are observing – there is plenty of surface activity to a variety of food items and it is down to the angler to figure out what exactly the trout are feeding on.

Sheelin APT (All Purpose Terrestrial).Sheelin APT (All Purpose Terrestrial).
With the final arrival of summer, all kinds of tit bits are loosing their footing in riparian foliage and consequently tumbling to a watery grave.  Present to a great or lesser degree are things like black gnats, beetles, ants, Daddy-Long Legs and so on, all of which keep the trout looking up.

Aside from all these being clumped together under the heading ‘terrestrials’, one thing that links them all is their colour which is usually or very close to black.  Terrestrials of course are land born and it is the wind that puts them on the water although some anglers in their impatience have been known to shake the branches of overhanging trees to encourage a rise.
Lough Sheelin’s BuzzerLough Sheelin’s Buzzer

There was a brief rise of a small number of trout to a strip of wind-blown terrestrials on the surface in Goreport during the week. Very good fish were taking them with abandon beside one angler’s boat but it was as if the fish knew the wind was coming to halt proceedings and in this incident by the time an appropriate fly was on the leader it was all over.


Silver Daddy Olive Pseudo DaddyLawrence Finney’s Sheelin Silver Daddy & the Olive Pseudo Daddy

Lough Sheelin’s Apple Green MidgeLough Sheelin’s Apple Green Midge 2
Lough Sheelin’s Apple Green Midge 

The Apple Green Midge featured again on Sheelin this week with large numbers of the adults in adjacent bushes in various areas around the lake.  It was difficult to see what the fish were feeding on (suggesting surfacing aquatic insects just underneath top water film), the abundance of food was there and the trout rises were numerous and constant punctuated by a more aggressive rise suggesting an adult insect being taken on the move which is a typical feature of all buzzer rises.  The Apple Green featured in large numbers around the Western shore but was also present in heavy patches along sheltered shorelines elsewhere on the lake.

A 4lb Sheelin A 4lb Sheelin trout with an adult Buzzer before it swam off into the depths.

There were reasonable hatches of buzzer around Goreport, Bog Bay and the Sailors Garden during the week with good rises and takes of 2 ½ – 3lb trout.

Although the may fly is almost at an end for guide Damien Willis, Sheelin did not disappoint as he bucked the trend and had some good daytime fishing with all trout rising to a small Gray Wulff during the late afternoon.

Sedge fishing has a consistent reputation as being the cream of the fishing season on Sheelin and it was the preferred choice for this week with a number of trout being landed using small brown 14 -16 dry Sedges.  Other successful flies used by anglers after the sedges were the Cinnamon Sedge, Grey Klinkhammer (12-14 Emerger) and the Elk Hair Caddis.

‘Contemplation’  Crover, Lough Sheelin

‘Contemplation’  Crover, Lough Sheelin

Another nighttime catch

Another nighttime catch from Northern Ireland angler David Casey (released)

a juvenile The future of Lough Sheelin – a juvenile trout from Walkers Bay   

Damien WillisDamien Willis


Web www.loughfishingbuddies.com

The flies that worked this week were the sedges (size 14 & 16), Finney’s Biscuit Sedge, the Silver Daddy, the Murrough, the Welshman’s Button, the Bibio, the Golden Olive Bumble, the Buzzer patterns, Spent Gnat patterns, the Alexandra, Thunder & Lightening, Kate Mclaren, the Dunkeld, Greenwells Glory, the Raymond, the Stimulators, the Klinkhammer, and the Wulffs (Gray, Royal & Green), the APT, Hoppers, the Silver Dabbler and the Silver Invicta.

With the trout fast moving on to the pin heads, fly dressing incorporating a thread of silver attracts these fish on the hunt for the silver of the perch fry.

The Hackled Coachman (dry)

The Hackled Coachman (dry)

This is an interesting fly which well-known angler Stevie Munn writes about in his article ‘The Evolution of Flies’ and recommends it as being great for trout feeding on Caenis.  He speculates that trout may take it as an emerging Caddis as it sits on its end in the surface film of the water.

Lough Sheelin, July 2015

image018Sorting out the best fly – Charlie Hendron , Belfast at Plunketts point

image019‘In the net’ a beautiful 4 pounder caught on an Adult Buzzer

 image022‘The last dance’ – Spent at Church Island
All about the dark on Sheelin – Greg’s lovely trout, fishing with Damien Willis

image025The Murrough by night – Lough Sheelin

image026A Sheelin trout at almost 4lbs on the Murrough

image027The tranquil beauty of Lough Sheelin

July is the month for true trout anglers who want the challenge of some real trout fishing.  The water is becoming rested after the heavy boat traffic, jagging and spooking from the mayfly hordes and the fish can finally operate in peace.

Lough Sheelin supports a large number of trout, the question that needs to be answered is whether anglers want to meet the challenge or opt for easier fishing elsewhere but one thing for sure is there are ways to catch the Sheelin fish and there are ways, even when the fishing is difficult.  To be regularly successful on this lake the angler must not only understand the fodder on which the fish feeds but how to effectively imitate the different stages and present them flawlessly to Lough Sheelin’s educated, selective trout.  The first step as I see it is that you have to be curious, the second is observant and the third is to keep experimenting, those three steps combined will result not only with catches but with an understanding of the fish in this great lake.

As one angler put it to me recently ‘ I did a lot of thinking at Sheelin, it inspired me, fascinated me and frustrated me, day in, day out.  I kinda became besotted with it and it was if for those few days we became merged as one’.

image032The magic & mystery of Lough Sheelin, July 2015

image035Starting young…………

image036Casting out – some day time fishing on Sheelin, July 1st


image039Deer Hair Mayfly Dun

image040Lough Sheelin’s Adult Buzzers

image041Michael Pollin’s Sheelin trout

image042Up-Coming Events

The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association will be hosting a Youth angling day on at the end of July. This popular event will include fly tying, fly casting and trout fishing followed by a Bar B Q. All participants will have the opportunity to catch fish and receive a small prize. For further details contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033 .

A Blast From The Past

The late Sean McEntyre – a life time fisher and devotee of Lough Sheelin 

image044Lough Sheelin Guiding Services (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com)  087 1245927


image045Kenneth o Keeffe                    Grey Duster Guiding 0868984172

[email protected]




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

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

image046It won’t work if you aren’t 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 under

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


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

image048Please 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 4lb  trout caught by David Gray, Glasgow on a Harry Cat.

Total number of trout recorded: 31

image049Selection of Catches             

Jordan Comistkey, Newtowngore – 2 trout at 1 ½ and 2lb using dry sedges at Arley and Chambers, July 2nd.

Tim Regan, Dublin – 1 trout at 2lbs on a Green Wulff on Friday July 3rd and 1 trout at 1 ¾ lbs on a Murrough on July 2nd (11pm).

Pat Brady, Cavan – 1 trout at 2 ½ lbs using a Stimulator.

Noel Delanty, Cavan – 2 trout on sedges, heaviest at 1 ¾ lbs.

Trent Fahey, England – 2 trout, heaviest at 3lbs on Sedges, reported seeing a lot of small trout 8 – 9” in Walkers Bay.

image050Crover, Lough Sheelin  (photo. By Mark Wilson)

Brenda Montgomery IFI