Lough Sheelin Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI -March 14th to March 20th 2015

“Fish are, of course, indispensable to the angler. They give him an excuse for fishing and justify the fly rod without which he would be a mere vagrant.” Sparse Grey Hackle.

image001Andrew Brown’s weight of the week at 4lbs caught on a March Brown

A weather front from Russia this week brought with it a thin sharp East to North East wind which whipped across Lough Sheelin’s surface like a knife, creating in its wake testing conditions for the even the most experienced anglers on this lake. Although water levels are decreasing, the sub zero nightly drops in temperatures meant there was little increase in water temperatures and conditions were still too cold to encourage the fish out of the deeper water columns.  Despite the persistent cold there were good hatches of duck fly but with little or no surface feeding from the trout.

But there is hope in sight as we are now into the second half of March and the days are noticeably lengthening and with the odd blast of heat, chironomid activity will increase. The available food density usually builds from mid to late March and as this month moves onwards trout should gradually make that transition between bottom feeding, close in shore, shallow water feeding to the much easier and freely available zone feeding on buzzer pupae but it is a slow process.  What we now need is some warmth to move things on and leave the large lures and sinking lines behind but until that happens this is where Sheelin is at the moment stuck with the di3s and di5s and with the sizable lures like the Minkie’s and Humungus.

Saturday March 19th saw the first competition of the season – The Kilroy Cup being hosted on the lake.  With the kick off time at 11am, this annual early season competition was organized by the local angling club – The LSTPA. Conditions up to mid-day were dull and cold with the sun breaking through in the afternoon.  53 anglers took part and for many it was their 2016 debut and a return to Sheelin for another year.  Despite early season and all the difficulties that come with it, Sheelin fished well and anglers were happy with catches, pulls, follows and sightings of fish.  Most of the fish were caught using variants of the Minkies and Humungus on sinking lines but the winning fish broke that trend by being caught on a traditional early season Sheelin pattern – The Sooty Olive.  The winner Stan McCart from Garvey, Northern Ireland was more than happy with his first day out this season on Sheelin.  Ten fish were weighed in but a lot more were caught and released due to bigger fish being caught.  Anglers reported good hatches of duck fly but the dark lake olives which usually appear in March have yet to make themselves known.


‘Happiness is a Sheelin Trout’

Stan McCart, winner of The Kilroy Cup with his 3.26lb fish

 image004Kevin Coyne’s Humungus

 image00516 year old Jack Egan, Cavan making it look easy with his catch on March 19th

image007A Bibio Variant by James Bews – ‘it can be fished both as a damp dry if ginked up and left static then for a wet fly if pulled for movement. It is scruffy enough to sit up but heavy enough to cut in like a foreman’s favourite so it is the best of both worlds’.


The rule of thumb for The Bibio is simple never be without one.

image008Kevin Sheridan’s trout, caught & released, March 19th


David Connor, Ballinrobe with a small but beautifully conditioned juvenile trout (released)


Moving forward it is usually over the next number of weeks late March to mid April when things get going with fly life on this lake, when nature realises that spring is really in the air. But it may not really be apparent if the fishing is tough going and you blank or perhaps land only one fish after many days of hard slog. In this stage of buzzer activity it’s very likely that conditions won’t always be right for the actual hatch to take place but nevertheless the pupa can be surprisingly active deep down under the surface, with the trout only too aware and feeding heavily.

The duck fly is one of the many species of buzzer on this lake. Duck fly hatch out from big underwater holes known as ‘duck fly holes’. These are large underwater holes with a muddy bottom and plenty of weed growth. The eggs hatch under the mud and the larval stage of the fly, known as the bloodworm, wriggles about on the bottom. There, it undergoes a transformation to become the swimming pupa which ascends to the surface in great numbers.

Once at the surface, the pupa’s wing case pops open, and is now known to anglers as an ‘emerger’. The adult fly now pops out and flies off for cover in a hedge, returning later to the lake surface to mate and reproduce, starting the cycle again as the eggs drop down to the lake bottom. A buzzer is basicially am imitation of the pupa of a midge or chironomid – in other words a non-biting “mosquite” in the state between a larva and the adult, flying insect. Most anglers will already know midges in two forms: the red blood worm found in in lake sediments, which are the midge larvae, and the big swarms of “dancing” midges, which are the insects mating in mid-air in large numbes. The midges are a good one for anglers to imitate because they are high on the trout’s menu and hatch throughout the fishing season.

One thing that characterizes the buzzer patterns is their sparseness. The skinny patterns are motivated by several factors. The animals that they imitate are small and slender, and there is often a wish for a fly that moves and sinks freely in the water. Lack of body volume is one way of obtaining this.

Paul Watkins Epoxy Buzzer patterns


The most successful flies for this week were the Humungus, Minkies, Golden Olive Bumble, the Hare’s Ear, 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 along the Western shore, around Chambers and Kilnahard and down along Crover depending on wind direction. Stony Island down to Inchacup also featured with some of the heavier catches, particularly in and around Gaffney’s Bay.  There were some catches mid lake around Church Island using large lures, sinking lines and fast retrieves.

image016J.C Blae Sooty Olive – a good early season pattern for Sheelin

 image017Martin McCoy’s trout of 3 ½ lbs caught on a large Dabbler 

image018Lough Sheelin 2016 

image020The Irish Humungus ! 

image021Eamon Ross, Kenneth O’Keefe (chairman LSTPA), Stan McCart (winner of the Kilroy Cup) and Thomas Lynch (secretary LSTPA)

Results of The Kilroy Cup

1st Stan McCart 1 trout at 3.26 lbs

2nd Martin Connor 1 trout at 3.04 lbs

2nd William Craig 1 trout at 2.84 lbs

            image023Paul Cramp’s Duck Fly


The popular Sheelin Classic trout competition now in its 11th year will be run on Lough Sheelin on Easter Saturday March 26th.  The kick off time is 11am with a finish at 6pm.  All boats should be on the shoreline and ready to go by 10.50am.  There is a strict 16” size limit and the individual with the heaviest fish wins.  This competition comes with an impressive list of prizes with a 19ft Sheelin boat & trophy as first prize.

All proceeds of this event go towards the protection and enhancement of rivers within the Kells and Sheelin catchments

For further details please contact Noel McLoughlin at 087 – 2179460

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

image024It 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




Lough Sheelin Guiding Services (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) 087 1245927

D.C Angling & Guiding Services – contact David @ 087 73946989

Michael Farrell @ 087 4194156Telephone: +353 43 6681298 Email: [email protected]

Capture 2

Capture 1

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

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 the week was a 4 lb trout caught on a March Brown by Andrew Brown.

Total number of trout recorded: 47

image029Selection of Catches            
Frank Kelly, Cavan – 1 trout at 2.22 lbs
Kenneth O’Keefe, Cavan fishing with Jack Egan – March 19th 4 trout heaviest at 2 ½ lbs, caught on intermediate lines using Silver Dabblers and Minkies, fishing at Leggetts and Wilsons pt.
Kevin Sheridan, Cavan – 1 trout at 2lbs on a Gold Humungus.
Paul Rush, Armagh – 1 trout at 2.8lbs on a Silver Dabbler.
Pat Foley, Monaghan – 1 trout at 2.72 lbs on wet flies.
Martin McCoy – 3 trout, heaviest at 3 ½ lbs caught on a large Dabbler.
Padar McAvinney – 1 trout at 2.78 caught on wet flies.
Trent Marshell, Dublin – 2 trout heaviest 2 ¾ lbs on a Silver Dabbler.
Paul Rush, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 2.8 lbs, wet fly fishing. March 19th.

image030Sun rise over Sheelin (K.Sweeney)

Brenda Montgomery IFI