Lough Sheelin Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI – April 11th to April 17th 2016

‘The world owes you nothing. It was here first’
Mark Twain


Tonagh, Lough Sheelin April 11th 2016

Winter weather with heavy rain, hail, frosts and an insidious cold stamped its indelible print on Lough Sheelin for most days this week.   Depressingly there seems to be no middle ground in April and little or no reprieve from the bitterness of this tenacious unseasonable weather.  There were a few afternoons mid-week were we were treated to a few hours of warmth where the barometer crept upwards, but this was short lived and was followed on by a sub zero drop and bitterly cold north winds, it was if Zeus, the god of weather, was saying that’s enough, you’ve had a few hours and now it’s back to business.
This weather does not make things easy for the Lough Sheelin angler but regardless of this, Sheelin fished well this week and there were some pretty impressive trout landed, all in peak condition.

The Catches…


‘A bit of a handful’

Gary McKiernan of Lough Sheelin Guiding with the weight of the week a 63cm Sheelin beauty, April 16th 2016

The heaviest fish for this week was a 63 cm trout caught & released on Saturday April 16th by Gary McKiernan (www.loughsheelinguiding.com)

Total number of trout recorded: 55

Selection of Catches            

image026Gary Cruthers, Belfast – 1 trout at 4 ½ lbs on a Claret Stimulator

Pat Burns – 1 trout at 3 ½ lbs fishing on the lee side of Church Island using a Peter variant.

Grey White, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 4 ½ lbs fishing wets.

Albert Berry, Monaghan – 1 trout at Watty’s using a Silver Dabbler.

Lawerence Hickey, Dublin – 3 trout, 2 at 3 ½ lbs caught on Humungus and Claret Dabblers

Pat Brady, Cavan – 2 trout at 2 and 2 ½ lbs on Butchers and Dabblers

Frederick Carson, Dublin – 3 trout heaviest at 4lbs using Stimulators and Dabblers.

Arden Pollock, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 3 ½ lb on a Minkie at Lynch’s pt.

Martin McCabe, Cork – April 14th 2 trout at 3 and 3 ½ lbs on a Claret Dabbler and a Bibio in Orangefield.

On Saturday April 16th The Ulster Fly Fishing competition was hosted on Lough Sheelin.  The weather was far from kind to the 70 participants in this prestigious qualifying competition, with bright harsh sunshine and a bitter cold north wind which sliced down the lake without mercy throughout the day.  Despite the unfavourable fishing conditions and with a limit of 35.5cm 24 fish were recorded with Tony Hogg taking the cup.

The first 18 of this competition qualify for the Interprovincial to be fished next September 3rd on Lough Melvin and the first 30 qualify for the 2017 National.

The results of this competition were as follows:

1st   Tony Hogg

2nd   Terry McGovern

3rd   Paul Lunney

Other Qualifiers were: 

James Doherty                 Mark Cleland                         Ned Clinton

Larry Gibb                       Martin McCoy                       Harry McAteer

Andries Ferreria               Arden Pollock                        Mervyn Campbell

John McGurl                    Gordon Law                           D.Maguire

Garry Stewart                   Dessie McEntee

Eamonn Ross                     Paul McArdle

Terry McGovern               Greg White

Pat Carson                         Keith Moffitt


Tony Hogg (left) winner of The Ulster being presented with the Ulster Cup by the Ulster secretary Woodrow Acheson.



Getting ready– Lough Sheelin’s Ulster, April 16th 2016

image015Truth be told every angler when they venture out on a lake wants to catch a fish and in a competition particularly a qualifier there is more expectation than normal and when there’s a blank perhaps a bigger disappointment. On the evening of the Ulster, there were those who caught and those who didn’t and out of the ones that didn’t a superstition which I had never heard of before was thrown up and that is the banana one.  Superstitious anglers (and they say the better the angler the more superstitious they will be) believe that bringing bananas on a boat jinxes the fishing and creates bad luck for everyone in the boat.  Stories of bananas bringing bad luck can be traced back to the 1700’s when sailing ships carrying bananas hurried to deliver their cargo before it spoiled.  The ships moved so quickly that crew members trolling for fish off the stern seldom caught anything.  A more passable answer is that unlike the scents of say garlic, which attracts fish, the smell of banana wards them away and since most anglers don’t wash their hands after eating bananas, the banana oil gets on to the fly.

So it’s no wonder the theme song of banana phobic charter boats captains is ‘Yes we have no bananas’……


A 47cm beauty (www.loughsheelinguiding.com)

The Hatches & Flies

The angling season is moving forward, albeit a little slowly due to the elements, but it is moving, the duck fly hatches are receding with small buzzer hatches replacing them. The trout are starting to make an appearance with evidence of some feeding on these buzzers in the calm and in sheltered bays and inlets.  The swallows have appeared back from Africa during the past week and sweep and skim relentlessly along the surface of the water, mopping up any fly life that crosses their path.

Anglers are moving away from the large lures and the early season Minkie’s and Humungus are losing their power and position in favour of teams of traditional wet fly patterns.  The Dabblers and all their variants have featured very prominently this week.


A line up on Crover shore, Lough Sheelin

The Dabbler basically came about as two anglers discussed the dressing of another great Irish Lough pattern – the Gosling. Like the Gosling the Dabbler has many variants and for this week it was the Black, the Green, the International, the Silver, the Claret and the Yellow which all hit the jackpot for their users. E.J Malone’s book on Irish Trout and Salmon Flies contains hundreds of flies from as far back as the 19th Century. Martin from The Fly Tying Journal successfully splices old Irish trout fly patterns with dabbler and ice by adapting each traditional pattern – largely with a dabbler style wing and some flash. He introduces an Ice head to complement the dabbler wing and incorporates Ice dub, Lite Brite etc. onto his Dabblers with good success rates.

Olive Partridge & Brown Variant
Some of Martin’s flies with flash – Olive Partridge & Brown Variant
 Mallard & Green Variant

Mallard & Green Variant

Most old timers fishing this lake will tell you that at this time of the year that if you are lucky enough to come across a fish ‘looking up’ then really anything you throw out on the water (an old boot was suggested) will do…. but I like to think that it’s more than just that and the reappearance of those comfortable Sheelin oldies like the Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear, Bibios, Sooty Olives, Leadwing Coachman, Black Gnat and Connemara Black are secretly welcomed back by me – old staples in the myriad of new flashy flies targeted a lot to catch the fishermen and not the fish. 


Andries Ferraira’s ‘fat Sheelin fish’. April 16th (released)


The Dynamic Dabblers

 “The Dabbler is one of the great Irish wet fly patterns of recent times and has several variants as well. It was invented by accident when Donald McClarn of Co.down phoned a friend for the dressing of the Gosling. The fly took the trout angling competition by storm in the early 1990s and was the cornerstone of the success of the Dromore trout-fishing teams. It is without doubt a great killing pattern when stripped fast and then dibbled, on an intermediate, sinking or floating line in a good wave. It, and its variants, have accounted for numerous big wild lough brown trout, many into double figures” (O’Reilly, 1995; p.16).

The most successful flies for this week were the Humungus, Minkies, Golden Olive Bumble, the Hare’s Ear, Buzzer Pupa imitations, 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.

The best areas for fishing was weather dependant but Watty’s Rock, Derrysheridan, Lynch’s point and into Corru produced some good fish. Other areas fishing well were around by the Stoney Islands, Church Island and Chambers bay.


Sailors Garden, Lough Sheelin, April 5th


On Sunday May 22nd a fly fishing competition will be held on Lough Sheelin to raise funds for the Irish Youth team.  Registration will be at 10.30 am at Kilnhard,  This is a catch & release event and will run from 11am to 6pm.

For further information please contact Frank Dempsey @ 087 2351830

Capture 1 Capture 2 Capture 3

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 Breen Johnston







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

The return of a 56cm trout
The return of a 56cm trout


Spring has sprung on the shores of Lough Sheelin, April 11th 2016

Brenda Montgomery IFI