Lough Sheelin Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI September 11th – September 18th 2016

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour but this hour” Walt Whitman


French angler Christopher Defillon with one of his magnificant Sheelin September trout

As Lough Sheelin’s fishing year gently falls on its back and the insidious fingers of autumn take a grip, this lake’s mercurial temperament seemed to intensify this week with the only constant being the total unpredictability of the fishing. Good fishing was measured in hours, even minutes but not days. Sheelin swung erratically between great fishing – rises, takes and exhilarating catches to the unnerving calm with not a stir of anything with gills or fins.

Autumn can be a testing but intoxicating time to hit this particular quicksilver stretch of water that is Lough Sheelin.
This backend of the season is all about change and movement as the season moves forward and the trout become restless in their need to migrate to spawn. This move to the rivers does not entail a gigantic surge of trout but rather a period of several weeks where trout will manoeuvre themselves into certain locations within the lake and hold in these areas prior to making that spawning run. It’s a bit like the swallows which gather along telephone lines before making their journey to South Africa’s coastline, as autumn progresses the sky can come alive with the twittering masses of these social migrants. Then comes the day when the air falls silent and they are no longer there. Much the same happens under the water with Sheelin’s trout, only these are things we cannot see.

The Catches

Selection of Catches

John Murphy, Crover – 1 trout at 4lbs, September 13th

Des Elliott, Dublin – 3 trout – 1 @ 1 ¼ and 2 & 2 ½ lb each, caught on Golden Olive Bumbles and wet Murrough patterns.

Cian Murtagh, Cavan fishing with Vincent Kelly – 3 trout, best at 3lbs using Daddies, Silver Invictas and Claret Bumbles

Aleksandris Breidis, Dublin – 2 trout on September 18th, heaviest at 3½ lbs, using lures.

Gintars Helmanis, Swords, Co.Dublin – Saturday September 17th at the Long Rock, 1 trout at 4½ lbs using a black & silver Minkie.

Indrikis Mezhlauk, Dublin – September 18th 3 trout, heaviest at 3lbs using lures around Wilsons Pt.

Kazimiris Rubenis, Navan – 4 trout, heaviest 4lbs using Minkies in black & silver and grey & silver.

Dessie Egan, Athlone – 1 trout at 2½ lbs on a Claret Dabbler, fishing at the Long Rock.

Please 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 this week was a trout of over 6lbs caught by Lough Sheelin Guiding – Gary McKiernan on Wednesday September 14th.

Total number of trout recorded: 47



On Sunday October 2nd Lough Sheelin’s angling club The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association will host their annual Stream Rehabilitation Competition starting at Kilnahard from 11am to 6.0pm.

All proceeds of this event go towards the enhancement and rehabilitation of the rivers within the Lough Sheelin catchment.

The club and organisers of this competition, now in its eleventh year, welcome all anglers who wish to fish one of the best wild brown trout fisheries in Ireland and to experience first-hand the magic and allure of this lake which has the potential to produce the heaviest trout in the country.

For details please contact Eamonn Ross @ 086 6619834/ 049 9526602 or Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033

Click on the Link for a copy of the Entry form for Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association Stream Enhancement Competition



The Cavan/Monaghan Garda Divisional Fly Fishing Championship and Open Competition will be held at Lough Sheelin on Sunday October 9th from Kilnahard Pier, 11a.m – 5.30p.m.
Weigh in will be at 6p.m sharp at Crover House Hotel.
This competition is for: The Heaviest fish – visitors and The Heaviest fish – Cavan/Monaghan Division Garda Members.

For further details please contact Dessie McEntee on 047 77216 or 086-8937568

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


‘At the helm’ 6 year old Noah Breen Johnston

It 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


Releasing one of Sheelin’s juvenile trout


The Hatches and the Flies…

There was little or no fly life to motivate trout up to the surface to feed and this coupled with the restlessness of pre spawning fish meant that although the Sheelin trout displayed daily sporadic jumps and splashes, clearing the water and slicing the air with their less than agile antics, it was not food that they were after, which forced the dry flies to be stowed away for this week while the wets, nymphs, streamers and lures with sinking and intermediate lines took top position.

A few small late season olives, darker in colour than their early season counterparts flitted in and around the Bog Bay area but there wasn’t an adequate number to be a serious food contender for the distracted trout. Leatherjackets/crane flies or the daddies although plentiful inshore were few and far between on the surface water. Daddy Long Legs prove to be an irresistible meal to the trout so the use of wet Silver Daddies were responsible for fooling a number of trout this week.


Lough Sheelin – A Mercurial & Magical stretch of water

A fact is that a high percentage of trout sub surface feed and this was borne out on Lough Sheelin over the past number of days with non-existent surface boils or breaks which meant that it was a good bet that the trout were holding down below. The old tried and tested Sheelin wet fly patterns came up trumps time and time again with the Dabblers (Silver, Peter Ross and Claret), the Silver Invictas, Daddies and Bumbles (in claret and gold) featuring repeatedly as being responsible for the highest number of trout taken.
The weight of the week was a trout of over 6lbs caught on Wednesday by local ghillie Gary McKiernan of Lough Sheelin Guiding but as well as this impressive fish there were a number of 3, 4 and 5lbs also in the mix from other anglers both local and foreign.

The bulk of the catches ranged at between 1 ½ to 2½ lbs and most fish were in great condition – plump, feisty and gleaming with wild energy and that word ‘wild’ is a word that anglers should remember both at times when nothing is stirring and also those times when the net is out to receive the prize – these are wild fish, the definition of which is ‘living in nature without human control or care, untamed’ so wild is not an easy thing to trick and particularly at this time of the year where older larger fish are wary from seasons of anglers.

Suggestions on fly colour proposes that you think seasonal with dark colours recommended for early spring and autumn to match the colours of their environment and lighter flies for warmer weather. Simplistic as this sounds Sheelin argues this theory because it has always been the clarets, silvers, greens and golds regardless of where we are in the fishing calendar that have been a constant in catching fish


Damien Willis showing some of the trade secrets for Sheelin at Lough Sheelin

For now, at this time of the year I am told that ‘anything goes’, seemingly you pick your favourite wet fly set up and go for it. I am also told that it is not the choice of flies but the way you present the flies that seems to matter (along with a substantial dollop of luck). Along with size and colour, it is the movement of those artificial through the water that counts. It is important to keep the flies moving so throwing a slight curve into the line and accelerating slightly at the end of a retrieve with a hold in the skin of the water before lifting off could result in a firm take instead of the continuous reports of trout rising and coming up to the flies but then stopping short, not taking resulting in failed hook ups.
The familiar words ‘I missed it’ are inaccurate as trout rarely ‘miss’ a fly. A rise followed by a disturbance in the surface usually means a refusal.


A Sheelin Autumn olive

Trout respond best to movement than to static and because they are not looking for a specific food item (because there isn’t one) they are not selective about a fly pattern so basically for now anything goes but movement and colour are important. The old tried and tested patterns are the best and the fly pattern that has done consistently well on this lake throughout the season and rose to the top this week was the Dabbler in Claret, Olive, Silver and Ginger – the Sooty Dabbler, Claret, Silver, Pearly and Peter Ross to give them their correct titles. Tried and trusted patterns are the best bet but with longer hackles or wings to produce extra movement and a more streamlined shape.

Hoppers (wet) in a size 14 were good.

Other popular flies were the Golden Olive Bumbles, the Klinkhammers, the Muddler Minnows, the Silver Invicta, the Daddies – Detached and in Silver, Gorgeous George, the Humpies, the Stimulators (particularly with a twist of silver in them), the Diawl Bachs, the Bibios, the Muddlers and Wickhams Fancy.

The areas of the lake that featured well were around Church Island, Rusheen, down along Holywell, Wilsons pt, Chambers, the Long Rock and Derrahorn.

A look around Sheelin

Brenda Montgomery IFI