“The lesson, of course, is never to take your eyes off the dry-fly, for it is certain that Murphy’s Law applies to fishing just as much as to any other human activity.”
David Street

Lough Sheelin – July 2015
Lough Sheelin – July 2015

This week Lough Sheelin embraced the dark by producing some good catches of beautiful classic Sheelin trout – thick from head to tail.

It’s Sedge time on Lough Sheelin (photo. Mark Wilson)
It’s Sedge time on Lough Sheelin
(photo. Mark Wilson)

The majority of fish were caught as the sun sunk low behind the shoreline trees and the evening light across the water succumbed to night.  Regardless of the reduced numbers of anglers fishing this lake, Lough Sheelin had good rises of fish to match the substantial hatches of sedge and various other insect life coming off the lake.

Dara Murtagh
Dara Murtagh, Cavan with his ‘after dark ‘trout caught on a Murrough

Lough Sheelin now in mid- summer stretches out majestically in front of its anglers – 4500 acres of rested water providing a fishing mecca for the serious trout angler – the angler who is prepared to study, look and see as to what is going on out there and there is quite a lot.

Lough Sheelin – July 2015
Lough Sheelin – July 2015

Coves and small bays peppered with water lilies like flat green saucers covering some of the sheltered shallows, interjected sporadically with the golden yellow spheres of their flowers sitting like meditating buddas in the centre of their floating green mats.  Leaving fishing to one side (while also mindful that this is of course an angling report) Lough Sheelin in summer regardless of our temperamental weather is a very beautiful place, heady with the scents of summer, the sweet pungent scent of the elder flower mingled with dog roses, water irises like empty banana skins with their vibrant yellow colour intermingled with the willow herb and loosestrife standing like purple pokers amongst the reeds along the edges of the lake’s shorelines.  The swallows mindful of the abundance of fly life swoop and dive continuously mopping up the prolific insects as they skim skillfully along the water’s surface.


The Hatches

July is the month of the evening rise on Sheelin – sedge fishing, ir

Another catch from Sheelin
Another catch from Sheelin

refutably the cream of the fishing calendar on this lake and for this week the cream surfaced magnificently to the top.

Sedges are one of the most important species of fly for fishermen who chase wild brown trout. Caddis flies are quite often referred to as ‘Sedge’ flies, to describe how an adult Caddis fly tend to attach and cling themselves onto the sedge grass growing along the banks of the water.

A Sheelin Caddisfly (Limnephilus flavicornis)
A Sheelin Caddisfly (Limnephilus flavicornis)

There is nothing like seeing a sedge fluttering across or floating on the surface, especially when we see that great wake or hear the big ‘sloop’ as it is swallowed down by a trout.

There are amazingly over 200 species of sedge flies identified in Ireland but generally only 20 are of interest to the trout angler. The adult sedge or ‘Caddis’ is an aquatic moth like creature with tent shaped wings.  While sedge flies can vary in size, the main characteristics of the sedge flies are its wings and colour. Adult caddis has 2 pairs of wings, a slightly longer set at the front and shorter at the rear. It also has long antennas which extend from the sedge’s body, while its body has dull colours such as grey, brown, orange or green so as to help attract less attention from trout. The sedges wings can have patterns with similar colours.

Long Horn Sedge, Chambers, Lough Sheelin
Long Horn Sedge, Chambers, Lough Sheelin

Sedges tend to hatch either early or late evening, which is probably the best time to fish this fly. Fish near the banks, and if trout are not biting, try using an attractor pattern which has brighter colours to attract the attention of any trout.

On Sheelin the sedge can provide some good day time fishing but really it is the evening that is best and when the egg laying activities are at their height.  The sedges lay their eggs while dipping and fluttering across the water surface.  The trout have to move fast to catch them and therefore the rise is a splashy one.  Sedge fishing with dry flies can be fantastic fishing on this lake – when it works.

The sedge larvae often build a little home for itself out of bottom vegetation and stones.  This is called the cased caddis.  The black lure invented by Bob Church, was initially an imitation of a cased caddis that built its home with burnt black straw…or so the story goes.

The sedge pupa is rather a fast mover by nymph standards and fish feeding on these do so with a characteristic “whorl” or giant swirl.

The Fisherman’s curse – Sheelin’s Caenis
The Fisherman’s curse – Sheelin’s Caenis

On Saturday morning July 11th as dawn broke, there was a fantastic hatch of caenis behind Church island.  Caenis fishing needs mirror calm water and conditions were near on perfect from 5am to 6 that morning.  Caenis is a tricky and difficult fly to fish because of its tiny size, the standard approach to a caenis rise is a black lure fished high in the water.  This is always the first line of attack.  Occasionally it is essential to fish with caenis duns and spinners.  Cork angler Mark Bedford used an orange thoraxed pheasant tail nymph, with a wet white-winged Wickham’s on the top dropper.  This method relied heavily on very accurate casting and not giving the fish much time to think.  Mark landed himself a fine 4 ½ pounder using this combination but it required very skillful fishing and would not be the norm for caenis, perhaps Ted Wherry’s caenis in a size 18 or 20 would be easier for the caenis fishing enthusiast.

Other “hatches” observed on the lake during the week…

The Catches

This week anglers on Lough Sheelin reported a total 45 trout for the week. The heaviest fish for the week was a 4 ¾ lb   trout caught by Charlie Preston, England on a Murrough on Thursday night July 9th at Derrysheridan.

A Sheelin classic  (copyright 2015 loughfishingbuddies)
A Sheelin classic
(copyright 2015 loughfishingbuddies)

The Elk Hair Caddis(size 14) and the Goddard Caddis (12-14) were particularly successful this week.  Another great fly was the Stimulator particularly when the wind picked up on Friday evening.

A successful plan too was a team of flies with some buzzers or nymphs along with good sized sedge suspending them positioned in the feeding zone, about 18”-2ft down when the sedges were about.  Simple slow retrieves of the sedge fly with a pause between retrieves, causes the sedge to ripple across the lake, simultaneously lifting the buzzer which then drops back down into the feeding zone.  This technique looks both like a natural sedge moving across the water and the buzzer lifts and drops like a natural buzzer emerging in the water.  Fishing with Stimulators in this manner is a deadly technique especially in the early evening when the sedges were more prevalent on the lake.  Using sedge hogs on a 2 sedge dry fly set up where there is very little line or tippet on the water when pulling the sedge across the currant while at the same time pulling them under the ripples will effectively cause the fly to pop back up as the rod tip is lifted up causing movement and disturbance which will attract the trout’s attention.

Matt Penny with his 4lb Sheelin prize
(copyright 2015 loughfishingbuddies)

With the bombardment of sedges in late afternoon and evening, the biggest of them all the Murrough or red sedge made itself known to anglers usually from 9 pm onwards.  The Murrough can be fished dry as a single fly or in a two team combination of a murrough with a balling buzzer as a top dropper.

A selection of catches

  • Dara Murtagh, Cavan – 1 trout at 3lbs on a Murrough.
  • Feithin Brady, Cavan – 2 trout at 2 ½ and 3lbs fishing off Derrysheridan, both fish caught using single dry sedges.
  • Malcom Dalton, Cork – 3 trout weighing in at 1 ½ – 3 ½ lbs caught using Murroughs and Green Peters.
  • David Bravender, Monaghan – 2 trout at 4lbs and 1 ¾ lbs caught using dry sedges in Bog Bay, July 10th.
  • Patsy Smith, Cavan – 1 trout at 2lbs using a Green Peter on July 9th.
  • Rory Sheehnan, Galway – 2 trout at 1 ½ and 2 ½ lbs using a dry sedge, fishing around Goreport and Holywell.
  • Gregory Fagan,  Dublin – 3 trout averaging 2 – 3 ½ lbs on the Murrough and Green Peter.

The Flies

There were still plenty of the terrestrials being blown on to the water this week with ants, beetles, daddy long legs and some hawthorns being helped out on to the water by the daily breezes, providing a variation in the menu for the surfacing trout.

The flies that worked well for this week were the dry Sedges (a pale brown/beige 12-14) CDC Sedge fly, the Green Peter, Hare’s Ear Sedgehog, the Golden Olive Bumble (good for creating that all important disturbance on the water), the Stimulator, the Hoppers, the Black Pennell, the Murrough, the Royal and Green Wulff, the Grey Klinkhammer (12-14 Emerger), the Cinamon Sedge, Greenwell’s Glory, Damsel Nymph and Pheasant Tail Nymph.

The Fiery Brown Fly has had a steady degree of success on Sheelin this season.  This fly is renowned in general to be a very versatile fly throughout the angling world.  It can represent fresh water shrimp in the early part of the season, duck fly in the spring and sedges in the summer.

The Black Pennell is a fly that is great one for Sheelin. Pennell, Angler and Naturalist, tied this fly first, it goes back a long way to about 1860, when it was an immediate success in Scottish lakes. So it is a real traditional one for trout, and according to a well-known angler from the Owenea a very good one, because: if you can’t get’em on anything black and silver- give it up.

It works especially well as a small point fly when black gnats or other small midge type insects are on the water. Hook sizes from 8 to 16; and materials should be used very sparsely, the hackle fibres a good bit longer than in most other patterns to allow lots of movement.

Lough Sheelin’s islands – July 2015
Lough Sheelin’s islands – July 2015

According to Sheelin’s past records, some of the largest fish have been taken on the murrough and the most likely places are behind the Stony Island’s, Gaffney’s Bay, Ross, Rusheen and the bottom of Goreport and Bog Bay.

It is difficult to find the beginnings of the Murrough or Murragh or Mor Ruadh or the Great Red Sedge fly and the pattern is subjected to many a variation but a body of chestnut brown seal fur, a rib of fine oval gold, and a hackle of red with the dark speckled wings tied flat along the back and slightly longer than the bend on a size 10 hook would be a good baseline.  Irish it certainly is and was ‘invented’ for fishing the big Limestone lakes, which is gospel.  Anything other is subjecture.  It is a very old pattern and was once commonly referred to as the ‘Northern Bustard’ and was quite popular as a night lure in a few places.  In other places, the bustard was simply a name for a largish, moth like, night fly, often dressed with owl feathers in various types, presumably originally from the great bustard, which would place the flies at least about 175 years old.

John ( Big Jackie) Child (1949 – 2015)

I had the privilege of meeting angler Jackie Child on a number of occasions on Lough Sheelin.  I could  not of done justice to this lovely man so instead I asked his best friend and angling comrade Stevie Munn to pen a piece about his lifelong friend and fishing companion….

John ( Big Jackie) Child (1949 - 2015)
John ( Big Jackie) Child (1949 – 2015)

“My great friend Jackie Child passed away on June the 27th. It is with great sadness and heavy heart that I am penning this. I knew big Jackie a long time, a life time. We fished together a lot over those years on Loughs Currane, Arrow, Corrib, Erne , Melvin and his perhaps his favourite Sheelin , which we went to yearly with the Mallusk Angling Society, a club which he was a past chairman of . We also fished on the rivers Mourne, Maine, Kells and the Sixmile water and he was also a member of that rivers club, The Antrim and District Angling Association. I also for a short time worked with Jackie who was an electrician by trade and when I needed to get work he got me some. Jackie was one of my greatest mates, we had many laughs and shared many great days fishing together as he did with many other anglers.

I will miss his wit his funny stories, that I never grew tired of hearing, his whistling that would drive me up the walls at times, his jokes that often I was involved in. Jackie was proud to represent his country in the last few years with the Irish Disabled Anglers as in the past he had also done with the Irish Sea Anglers. He was a man of immense strength and fortitude, even when in dreadful physical discomfort his big beaming smile was never far away. Jackie was a big brother to many of my generation of anglers – always there to help whether it was at the Irish Fly Fair, the angling weekend at Renvyle House a Game Fair, an event or competition he could always be relied on to help and to make the event more pleasurable and fun. He was always there to listen, always patient and understanding, he brought comfort and friendship to many. A larger than life character, he was a kind gentleman. Jackie was a big man with a big heart and was loved by the angling fraternity that knew him and in fact everyone who met him.

RIP old friend see you on a Lough on the other side.”
Stevie Munn

Go fishing…

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

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

Upcoming events

Youth angling day

The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association will be hosting a Youth angling day on Saturday July 25th. This popular event will include fly tying, fly casting and trout fishing followed by a Bar B Q. Casting instruction will be given by APGAI and participants will have the opportunity to catch fish and receive a small prize. For further details contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033 .

Lough Sheelin’s magic hour (copyright 2015 loughfishingbuddies)
Lough Sheelin’s magic hour (copyright 2015 loughfishingbuddies)

The McDonnell cup

The McDonnell cup will be held on Saturday August 8th on Lough Sheelin, fishing from 11am till 6pm from Kilnahard pier with an entry fee of €20.  This competition has been fished catch & release for the last three years which proved to be very successful.  Measures will be provided for all boats with the cup awarded to the longest fish.  This competition is open to members of the club only but membership is available on the day. There will be lots of prizes on offer and this day is generally viewed as a great day out.

For further details contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033.

LSTPA Stream Rehabilitation competition

The Lough Sheelin Protection Association’s Stream Rehabilitation competition has been set for Saturday October 3rd. Match booklets will be out by mid- August and will also be available to download off the LSTPA’s web site.

Guides and ghillies

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

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services
Tel: 087 1245927 Web: www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com

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: www.midlandangling.com

Rusheen Bay – Lough Sheelin
Rusheen Bay – Lough Sheelin

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


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

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

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.

Resting Up – River Inny, Finea, Lough Sheelin
Resting Up – River Inny, Finea, Lough Sheelin