Lough Sheelin Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI -July 25th – July 31st 2016

“Whether I caught fish or not, just the thrill of rolling out that line and watching my fly turnover has been good enough for me. That and the hundreds of treasured memories I have of this wonderful sport.” Curt Gowdy


Peadar McAvinney, Monaghan with his trout of over 5lbs caught on a Peter at the back of Church Island

Lough Sheelin, reputed to be one of the best wild brown trout fisheries in the world, a kaleidoscopic stretch of natural magnificence, lived up to this reputation over the past seven days by producing some excellent trout catches and opportunities for its anglers.  Most anglers were caught unawares by the sudden change over from sluggish daytime fishing to areas of water that seemed alive with trout on the move.
Over the past number of weeks, fishing opportunities have been more or less restricted to the evening, dusk and darkness where Sheelin’s trout rose to the hatches of the night time sedges – the Murrough and Green Peter. Day time fishing was poor with little or no surface activity and then, last Tuesday it was as if someone flicked on a switch across this lake and it seemed as if a coded message was transmitted to the trout to start rising to the surface and Sheelin became a completely different place from the one it had been a few days previously.  One angler, caught up in the euphoria of good fishing said it put him in mind of Gary Barlow’s song ‘The greatest day’.

Lough Sheelin – an ever-changing, challenging and memorable place to fish

Lough Sheelin is a constant mystery with nature continually reminding us that it is not us who make the rules. There is no fixed agenda, we can only speculate and follow in the general pattern and direction which this lake and its trout lead us in.
July and August, with water levels perhaps at their lowest and water temperatures approaching their highest, bright skies and the warmth of the summer (which at times isn’t that warm) combine to make these months usually the poorest of the season as fish gorge on fry and the trout season slows.  The trout locked on to the perch and roach fry caused no end of frustration to the angler and Sheelin’s only salvation up until this week had been the late evening rise with the arrival of the sedges and chironomids on the water with the moths and ants being a terrestrial species that offered a possible alternative in the trout’s menu. The ‘picking up’ of the fishing here normally doesn’t happen until later in August so lulled into the ‘usual’ this change of direction set anglers into a spin and as word got out, numbers fishing the lake increased from the previous Marie Celeste situation.

The Catches…

For the past number of days, fishing conditions have been excellent with good cloud cover, a bit of a surface wave and warmth, morning to night produced the goods as large numbers of fish were reported to be rising – pitching and boiling on the surface. Some anglers reported a continuous showing of bigger fish i.e in the 4lbs upward bracket but more reported great sport and catches around the 2 -3 lb mark and below.  There were good sedge hatches in certain areas of the lake, with these making their initial appearance by crawling in large numbers up the gunnels of the boats, the fish were rising and taking small sedge patterns in a size 14 -16.  It was noted with the Green Peter that trout were only taking this sedge when it was sitting on the water drying its wings and not on its eventual return to the water to lay eggs.
Most of the days during the week saw little or no insect activity on the lake, as one angler put it to me ‘the only fly on the water was my own’ but trout were still surfacing and in general taking what was on offer by the angler.  Anglers were fishing on the blind and trout were coming up to the artificial.  At the weekend anglers reported good and continuous rises but the trout frustratingly coming short of the dries all day.
Selection of the catches
Gene Brady, Cavan – 1 trout at 3 ½ lbs on a Murrough in Goreport.
Brian McAvinney, Clones – 1 trout at 3 ½ lbs
Des Elliott, Dublin – 15 trout for the week, heaviest at 7lbs, 4 and 3 ½ lbs. Caught on wets – Sooty Olives, Golden Bumbles and Bibios.
John McGauren, Baileboro, Cavan – 1 trout at 5 ¼ on a Green Peter.
Frank Smith, Dublin – 5 trout, heaviest at 4 ½ lbs on Peters.
Mathew Sommers, Dublin – 16 trout for the week, caught on wets (Sooty Olives and Invictas) and dries (Peters and small sedge patterns)
Thomas Lynch, Cavan – 1 trout at 7lbs on a Green Peter.
Peadar McAvinney, Monaghan – 6 trout heaviest at 5 ½ lbs caught at the back of Church Island on a Green Peter.
Danny Murray, Dublin – fishing with Loughsheelinguiding – 9 trout on July 27th, heaviest at 3 ½ lbs wet and dry fly fishing.

The Competitions…

The McDonnell cup will be held on Saturday August 6th on Lough Sheelin, fishing from 11am till 6pm from Kilnahard pier.. This competition has been fished catch & release for the last four years, which proved to be very successful. Measures will be provided for all boats with the cup awarded to the longest fish. This competition is open to members of the club only but membership is available on the day
There will be lots of prizes on offer and this day is generally viewed as a great day out.
For further details contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033.
image034The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association will be hosting a Youth angling day on Saturday August13th.. This popular event will include fly tying, fly casting and trout fishing followed by a Bar B Q. Casting instruction will be given by APGAI and participants will have the opportunity to catch fish and receive a small prize.
For further details 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
Caoimhe Sheridan, Cavan
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
This week, The Irish Times reported that ‘more than 100 people drown each year in Ireland’.
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.
A catch & release policy is actively encouraged on the lake at all times
The heaviest fish for this week was a trout of 7lbs 2ozs caught by Dublin angler Des Elliott on a Sooty Olive, Monday July 25th.
Total number of trout recorded : 71

The hatches and the flies…

It was a combination of fishing wets and dries, as no one particular method seemed to be leading the way, perhaps wets during the day and a mixture of both wets and dries for the evening. The Sooty Olives, Bibios, Green Tailed Peters, Dunkeld and Golden Olive Bumbles worked very well with Murrough and Green Peter patterns taking over as the evening light faded into dusk.  There are still copious amounts of fry around with a waning interest by the trout, a Silver Invicta or an Alexandra worked well in the shallows were trout were moving to the fry.

There was still no evidence of the Bloodworm but conditions although warm lacked that necessary calmness that this larvae demands. There was good bloodworm fishing on this lake during the mayfly phase which again contradicted the normal pattern for this chironomid larval appearance as this usually happens at the end of July so again Sheelin is bucking the trend this year as far as predictability is concerned.

Lough Sheelin’s Welshman’s Button

There is still Murrough hatching but these sedges are dwindling in number and are being replaced by the Green Peter. There were good hatches of Peter particularly in and around Goreport in the late evening with anglers reporting good rises to this sedge.
Fishing in Chambers Bay last Saturday night was magical. A little light in the Northern sky was reflecting on the water and when there was a fish trout rising between you and that sky you were able to see them rising, the only bother being that you’d only know vaguely where your fly was.  Luck was a big element and when this was on your side on the strike, then the rest is history as you play and take in a Sheelin 4 lb plus.

There were large hatches of Caenis in the late evenings, living up to its nickname ‘the anglers curse’ by sticking to everything and requiring precision and minuscule fly imitations from the angler in order to stand any hope of catching trout taking this small insect. There were good hatches of this fly before sunrise but the requisite of flat calm didn’t happen. Early morning is a bit like fishing the evening backwards and requires a special kind of dedicated and motivated angler and on Sheelin we have a few larks who can be seen moving around Church Island and beyond as the sun rises at the very cusp of a new day.
The flies most used this week by anglers were the Murrough, a Small Brown Sedge (12-14 or smaller), Klinkhammers, , the Bibio, Gorgeous George, Yellow Humpies, the Fiery Brown Sedge, the Chocolate Drop, the Grey Flag, hoppers, the Hare’s Ear Sedge, the Alexandra, the Sooty Olive, the red-tailed Green Peter, the Sedge Invicta, the G&H Sedge,  the Black Pennel, the Claret Pennel, the Welshman’s Button, a variety of Bumbles and the Silver Invicta.
A combination that worked well this week was a small Golden Olive on the point, a Green Peter Muddler in the middle and a Claret Bumble on the top dropper.
The top dropper is the most important as this is the fly that attracts the trout so something bushy and vibrant should be the criteria when choosing the team of flies.
No one particular area on the lake stood out from the rest but at a push Chambers Bay, the back of Church Island and from Inchacup down to Sailors Garden seemed to feature most but again this lake’s fishing is steered by wind direction so areas differed from day to day as winds and weather changed.

A look around Sheelin

Brenda Montgomery IFI