Lough Sheelin 2014 Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI

‘So quiet, you can hear the moment it took your breath away’

Lough Sheelin 2014Lough Sheelin 2014

2014 has turned on its back and Lough Sheelin is at the dawn of a new year with only 8 weeks to go before the start of a brand new angling season – 2015. In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Janus is the god of new beginnings and transitions. He is a two-faced god since he looks to the future and the past and so with this in mind and before we bid a final farewell to fourteen it is perhaps interesting to take a glance back over the past 12 months
Lough Sheelin, Ireland’s ‘jewel in the angling crown’ has had a roller coaster of a year, peppered with peaks and troughs, highs and lows.

The fishing season was marked fairly early on with the landing of the heaviest fish of the year a 7.2 kg ( 15.87 lb) trout by Alex Trifonovs in April.

IFI recorded a total of 4387 trout caught by anglers for the 2014 season, most of which were released. This figure comes from IFI’s weekly collection of angling data and because it was impossible to have access to all fish returns, it just gives the lower end of the scale as to the numbers of fish being caught on this lake. Sheelin anglers in general are conservationally minded so overall a catch & release policy was adopted.

A 7.2kg Sheelin trout, caught and released at Plunketts ptIt’s still out there! – A 7.2kg Sheelin trout, caught and released at Plunketts pt. by Alex Trifonovs in early season on Lough Sheelin

If you were to plot a graph of the trout returns throughout the season, March to the end of April would show a gradually climbing line until April 28th when there was a sudden increase in the number of fish being caught with a dramatic rise from then until June 8th.

Looking at the dates and figures, the peak of the season can clearly be seen:

May 5th – May 11th 575
May 11th – May 18th 1152
May 19th – May 25th 1680
May 26th – June 1st 345
June 2nd – June 8th 205
June 9th – June 15th 49

The dramatic rise in numbers of catches, of course is attributed to Sheelin’s mayfly season which is the pinnacle of the fishing here. ‘Duffers fortnight’ attracts thousands of anglers from all over Ireland as well as an increasing number from England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, France, Holland, America and Australia and out of all of these anglers few return home disappointed with the spectacular hatches of mayfly and heavy falls of spent accompanied by mind blowing rises of trout. The 2014 mayfly season was excellent but didn’t last for long and crashed dramatically from the end of May, really only lasting at a stretch 2 ½ weeks.

Lough Sheelin doesn’t normally feature for the Green Peter but 2014 was a good year and a number of fish were taken on imitations. The Murrough fishing was sporadic and not as good as in previous years. The Spent Gnat was excellent in certain areas of the lake with the falls being most prominent in the early to late evening. The traditionally good buzzer fishing was poor for 2014 and the bloodworm didn’t feature at all.
Some lovely trout were caught during the season with the trout averaging generally from 2 ½ to 6 lbs. There is of course an unofficial ‘over eight pound’ club and there were quite a few qualifiers for 2014, a selection of which included –
Thomas Lynch, Kilnaleck at 10lbs (69cm), Noel McLoughlin, Kells 9lbs, Ken Kearns, Dundalk 8 ½ lbs, Liam Faulkner, Navan 8lbs and Seamus Meegan, Dundalk 8lbs
Keith Lough, Glasgow (ghillied by loughsheelinguiding) at 9 ½ lbs, Danny Murray, Dublin 8 ½ and Darren Harton 9 ½ lbs to name but a few.
Anglers reported huge numbers of small trout in the lake which was an encouraging and positive sign for the future.

‘Love at first sight’ Stuart Marry‘Love at first sight’ Stuart Marry

Lough Sheelin’s fishing is very much governed by the weather and a change in wind direction can bring a surge of fish to the surface or an instant collapse of a rise. The summer of 2014 was hot and dry and this had a very negative effect on the fishing in that the fish stayed deep and were reluctant to surface through the warm oxygen depleted top layer. Angling numbers decreased significantly with the difficult and challenging fishing and this meant poor returns from mid June until the end of the season.

All areas of the lake fished well but the ‘hot spots’ were along the western shore, Chambers Bay, Kilnahard, Crover, at the back of Church Island, Goreport and Bog Bay.

The most popular flies used varied as the season progressed, early season favoured the Minkies, Humungus (in black, black & silver and gold), the Dabbler, Connemara Black, Hare’s Ear, Golden Olive Bumble and the Glister Ollie. This was followed by dry and wet hackle mayflies, olives – drys, emergers and nymphs, a selection of Dabblers (claret, fiery brown, silver, golden olive, peter ross and green), Golden Olive Bumble, Sedges, Green Peters, Klinkhammers, Stiumulators, Red tailed Claret and Red tailed Green Peters, Buzzers, Daddies and Hoppers. At the end of the season things seemed to have reverted back to the start with the Humungus and Minkie achieving the best results.

Peter Boyle, Monaghan with his Kilroy Cup winner of 6.32lbsPeter Boyle, Monaghan with his Kilroy Cup winner of 6.32lbs

A number of competitions were held on the lake during the year, the main ones were:

The Kilroy Cup March 16th, 67 anglers, winner Peter Boyle, Monaghan with a 6.32lbs 63cm fish.
The Sheelin Classic April 19th, 90 anglers, winner Kenneth O’Keefe, Cavan with his classic of 5.41 lbs using a Minkie.
The Ulster Fly Fishing Championships, April 26th, 70 anglers, winner David Marshell, Hillsborough with a 59 cm trout.
The LSTPA/Recreational Ireland Youth Angling Day, July 12th, 34 participants, winners Dervla Gormley and Aaron Shannoney with 2 trout at 2 and 2 ½ lbs on an Albert Berry Green Stimulator.
The McDonnell Cup, August 10th, 25 anglers, winner Thomas Lynch, Kilnaleck with a 52.3cm trout.
The McIntyre/Guider Cup, September 26th, winner Tommy Rush, Armagh with a 2lb trout using a Daddy.
The Royal Cup, September 26th, twenty anglers, winner Gary Leddy, Cavan with a 3lb trout.
The LSTPA Lough Sheelin River Rehabilitation Competition, October 4th, 300 anglers, winner Ciaran Newman, Mullingar with a trout of almost 5lbs.
The Cavan/Monaghan Garda Divisional Fly Fishing Championships & Open Competition – October 12th, 95 anglers, winner Jim Hughes, Clones with a 3lb 7.2oz fish.

Other smaller competitions held at the end of the season were IFI’s Field Officers competition, The Silver Stream Anglers Fly competition and the Tormey Shield run by the Kells anglers.

Sheelin Lady

3 year old Erin McShane tying a fly3 year old Erin McShane tying a fly – Dad Mick reports that his little daughter loves tying flies, as long as everything is in pink!

The Lough Sheelin Protection Association (the LSTPA) held a number of very popular fly tying classes at the IFI offices at Kilnahard in November and December and these will continue into January 2015. These classes are open to all age groups, for further details please Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033.

Paul Lunney with his 4lb prizeHappiness is a Sheelin trout – Paul Lunney with his 4lb prize

magical MayflyLough Sheelin’s magical Mayfly

Dervla Gormley (1st)  and Sally Hurson at the LSTPA YouthFishing friends – Dervla Gormley (1st) and Sally Hurson at the LSTPA Youth Angling Day held at the IFI premises at Lough Sheelin

Sheelin hawthorneThere were two great losses during the year from Lough Sheelin.

The first was the sudden and untimely death of Elaine Brady on May 20th. Elaine was a front house employee of Crover House Hotel overlooking Lough Sheelin. Elaine was an integral part of Lough Sheelin and will be remembered for her good humour, friendship and dedication to this lake.

The second sudden death was that of avid long time Sheelin angler and friend Sean McIntyre on October 2nd. Sean who had a caravan at Chambers on the shore of the lake, spent a lifetime on and around Lough Sheelin. He had a deep, genuine and unshakable love for Lough Sheelin. Sean poignantly died beside a lake which meant everything to him.
Requiesce in Pace.

Sheelin butterflyLough Sheelin hit the headlines extensively both nationally and locally for all the wrong reasons on May 26th with the gruesome discovery of the covered remains of missing Dublin men, Anthony Keegan and Eoin O’Connor on Inchacup island on the on the Meath section of the lake. Clashing with the mayfly fishing for a while it was abit chaotic with an extensive gardai presence intermingled with a large angling fraternity. But with the removal of the bodies Sheelin soon settled back into what Sheelin does best and that was producing some excellent trout fishing.

Ryan Houston, EnniskellanRyan Houston, Enniskellan during Sheelin’s Mayfly season

Sheelin troutA typical Sheelin trout – ‘thick from head to tail’

Lough Sheelin’s local angling club – The Lough Sheelin Protection Association as part of a Midland Fisheries Funding Project carried out extensive rehabilitation and enhancement work on the Crover River. This work involved the introduction of spawning gravel, weirs, deflectors, cattle drinkers, bank protection and fencing which greatly improved this river as a spawning site for the Sheelin trout.

Sheelin’s PeterSheelin’s Peter (Agrypnia varia)

Lough Sheelin's Guiding ServicesSheelin guides & ghillies

Ciaran Newman, winner of the LSTPA’s River Rehabilitation CompetitionCiaran Newman, winner of the LSTPA’s River Rehabilitation Competition with his trout of almost 5lbs, October 2nd 2014.

‘Getting it right’ Caoimhe Sheridan, Cavan‘Getting it right’ Caoimhe Sheridan, Cavan

This photograph of 5 year old Caoimhe Sheridan was used repeatedly during the year in an attempt to make anglers and all lake users aware that they must wear a life jacket and that it is illegal not to do so. (SI No 921 of 2005 – Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005).
Two weeks after the close of Lough Sheelin’s fishing season, in early November, three men ventured out on the lake to shoot ducks, conditions were stormy and treacherous and the boat capsized and although it took the men some time to get into the shore, a tragedy was averted only because these men were wearing life jackets.
In this incident the men escaped with their lives but the story is tinged with sadness because these men had dogs with them and although the dogs were strong and quite capable of swimming to the shore they refused to leave their masters and drowned beside them.
Life jackets are just that – they save lives, but safety on water particularly on Lough Sheelin is a combination of things – assessment of weather, the kind of boat you are using as well as the life jacket.
The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association will be holding their AGM in mid-February. This is a strong and progressive angling club dedicated to the protection of Lough Sheelin. All new members are welcome. For further information please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033.

‘Before the storm’ Crover‘Before the storm’ Crover, December 20th 2014

Happy New Year‘Fishing consists of a series of misadventures interspersed by an occasional moment of glory’ (Howard Marshell)

Tight Lines for 2015

Brenda Montgomery IFI