Lough Sheelin Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI March 21st to March 27th 2016

“It doesn’t matter if the rod is or isn’t bent. Time spent fishing is time well spent.” Justin Morgan

image001Danny Murray, Dublin with a 56cm Sheelin catch, March 2016

This has been a tough and difficult week for anglers on Lough Sheelin as the cold daytime temperatures persisted along with a scattering of unwelcome nightly frosts preventing that much needed ‘warming up’ of the water. The Easter weekend was disappointing with gusty south to southwesterly bitterly cold winds accompanied by heavy, thundery and blustery showers. Sheelin for now is caught in that in between stage between winter and spring weather, on the cusp of spring, teetering on the edge but for this week not quite there.

Early season fly fishing is often frustrating as the cold makes the trout sluggish, producing lackadaisical feeding behaviours, the fish lie deep, sticking to the lower regions, feeding on freshwater shrimp and hog louse on the bottom of the lake and with the lack of surface fly life there is no incentive to move to the surface. There were some good hatches of duck fly particularly in sheltered areas but the Sheelin trout, as yet are simply not interested.  Most of the catches for this week were caught, once more on the big lures – the Minkie’s, Cats whiskers and Humungus although some anglers who are staunch users of traditional fly patterns did strike lucky but the lures still topped the pole in the number of trout landed.  The Dabblers in claret along with the Sooty Olive were the most popular traditional flies.

image002Crover, Lough Sheelin, March 2016

For many Sheelin anglers the start of the season is marked by fishing the local angling club’s Kilroy Cup, this year on March 19th   as trout once more become legal quarry but now veering towards April, the start of the season is slipping away with the trout seemingly dour and sullen, hatches non-existent and the weather inclement, so it is not surprising that some complacency is setting in as the fishing is not living up to those winter time dreams of this seasons expectations.  The advice at this stage is to limit (I suggest drastically) the angler’s hopes and this bit of advice was very necessary for last Saturday’s Sheelin Classic.  This popular competition, now in its 11th   year previously had an unblemished record for attracting the hottest brightest day of the season but this year that record was unceremoniously broken as strong bitterly cold southerly winds tore across the lake as the day progressed. The morning sported reasonable fishing conditions but the afternoon brought with it heavy downpours and strong winds creating dangerous mid lake conditions.  Most of the catches were caught in the shallows and along the shorelines, in bays and behind islands. For the weigh in, it was difficult to find any area at Kilnahard pier that was sheltered from the then bitingly cold wind which slammed in across the bay. Undeterred the competitors clustered in groups awaiting the results.

The winner of this competition was 16 year old Brendan Keaney from Kells with a 4.1 lb trout caught using a Minkie.


1st Brendan Keaney  1 trout @ 4.1 lbs

2nd Frank Dempsey    1 trout @ 3.9 lbs

3rd Patsy Tracy          1 trout @ 3.55 lbs

4th Luke O’Connell    1 trout @ 3.32 lbs

5th David Egan            1 trout @ 3.0 lbs

6th Gerard Timoney    1 trout @ 2.99 lbs

7th Frank Kelly            1 trout @ 2.36 lbs

image005A Classic winner – 16 year old Brendan Heaney, Kells with his winning 4.10 lb fish

image006Frank Dempsey, Athlone 2nd in The Sheelin Classic competition with his 3.9 pounder

A good proportion of hardy early season anglers on this lake are visiting rods (Scotland, Wales and England), eager to experience the first hatches of the duck fly. A lot of duck fly anglers will go out in harsh conditions and most will come back disappointed.  The fish that were caught were all sub surface.  Whenever the conditions are such that surface activity is unlikely (like it was for this week) fishing buzzer imitations sub-surface proved only way to take fish but it could never be described as easy fishing and would test even the best of anglers.

I had the pleasure of talking to a number of Scottish anglers who fished Lough Sheelin this week. These anglers were refreshing in their enthusiasm and obvious appreciation of this lake and for very good reason.  Over in Scotland as a rule anglers would consider they had a good day if they landed a trout of a pound so Sheelin with its ‘heavy weights’ in their words is like a Mecca of hope, that anticipation of landing a big trout, an anticipation that does not exist in the Scottish loughs.  Some of these anglers caught fish, some did not but regardless they are all returning later in the season as Sheelin enthralled and excited these new comers to return to its shores.

image007David Connor, Ballinrobe (DC Angling) with a perfectly conditioned Sheelin trout

image008Jack Egan practicing Catch & Release

                                                                      image009image010Martin McCoy with his trout caught on a Dabbler

image011Arthur MacDonald’s Claret Bumble

image012Ben MacKay, Scotland with his 55 cm trout

image013Andrew Brown’s trout of 53cm caught on wets

image014A Green George – a good start for early season fishing

image016Sunrise over Sheelin

image015Billy Sweeney’s short shank dark Sooties

The most successful flies for this week were the Humungus, Minkies, the Cats whisker Fritz (fished on an intermediate line with various rates of retrieves), the Ice Buzzer (fished on an intermediate line on a very slow figure of eight retrieve), Shrimp patterns (fished on an intermediate line) Golden Olive Bumble, the gold ribbed Hare’s Ear, the Silver Dabbler, the Fiery Brown Dabbler, the Claret Dabbler, the Claret Bumble, Bibios, the Silver Invicta, the Pheasant Tailed Nymph, the Connemara Black, Black Pennell and the Sooty Olive. As far as the lures where concerned colour didn’t seem that important, although black in discoloured water and white or yellow in clear water seemed to offer some advantage.

The best areas for fishing was along the Western shore, around Chambers and Kilnahard and down along Crover depending on wind direction. Most fish were caught in the shallows, tight to shorelines and behind islands and in bays.

image017Dave Egan, Clare with his catches at The Sheelin Classic

image018Darius Simkus, Galway showing his small son the secrets of Lough Sheelin                 

image019Jack Egan, Cavan with an early season trout caught on a Dabbler


On Saturday April 16th The Ulster Fly Fishing Competition will be hosted on Lough Sheelin.  This prestigious event was last hosted on this lake in 2014 so we welcome its return.  The Ulster is normally run on a rota system between Lough Erne, Lough Melvin and Lough Sheelin.  To enter anglers must be a member of the Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association or be affiliated to a Northern Ireland trout angling club.  The winner of this competition will be officially the best fly angler in Ulster for the year and will be awarded the Ulster cup.

This will be a Catch & Release competition

For further information 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

image020It 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

5 year old Noah Johnson Breen





Capture 1

Capture 2

Capture 3A catch & release policy is actively encouraged on the lake at all times

image023Please 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 4 lb trout caught using wet flies by Dublin angler Danny Murray.

Total number of trout recorded: 38


Selection of Catches            

Ben MaKay, Scotland (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) – 4 trout on wets, heaviest 55cm.

Andrew Brown, Dublin – 4 trout fishing Dabblers, heaviest at 53 cm.

Michael Kiernan, Dublin – 3 trout, 2 on a small orange shrimp pattern using an intermediate line at the back of Church Island.

Kajus Caikiene, Dublin – 3 trout, heaviest at 3 ½ lbs using large Minkie’s in black and silver.

Lukas Eaginas, Dundalk – 3 trout heaviest at 3lbs using Humungus and Cats Whisters, fishing around Sailors Garden.

Dominykas Tyla, Navan – 2 trout at 2 ½ and 2 ¾ lbs, both caught on lures.

Matas Vadisis, Dublin – 3 trout, heaviest 3 ¾ lbs using Minkie’s and Humungus in black, silver and gold.

Jokubas Kacaitus, Dublin – 4 trout for the week, heaviest 3 ½ lbs using lures, slow retrieves.

image025Crover, Lough Sheelin 2016

Brenda Montgomery IFI