Lough Sheelin Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI – July 18th – July 24th 2016

‘Things fishermen know about trout aren’t facts, but articles of faith’
John Gierach


Keith Lough , Scotland with a superb 65cm Sheelin trout

As daytime temperatures soared to a Mediterranean peak of 29 degrees on July 19th, Lough Sheelin’s trout reacted accordingly by disappearing down into the lower colder regions of the lake and Sheelin for another week struggled with its ‘office hours’ fishing, leaving the dusk and darkness with possibly the only opportunity to redeem itself in the trout angling world.
With the persistent humidity, angling numbers were predictably low throughout this week, almost nonexistent during the day and rising to a sparse five to seven boats for the evenings and nights. The number of trout caught are generally a reflection of the number of anglers out fishing, sparse anglers fishing usually means sparse numbers of fish being caught.  But despite dwindling numbers, some lovely heavy trout were recorded for this week, with eight fish making it over the 4lb mark and the heaviest tipping the scales at a cool 7 ½ lbs by Belfast angler John Malcom.

A picture is worth a thousand words and so the photographs adorning this report show that beautiful trout are still being caught here despite the challenging weather but it is important to see beyond the photographs too and look at the ‘word’ bit, for there was no easy fishing this week and all fish were as they say in Cavan ‘hard got’.
Lough Sheelin is consistently a tough lake to fish, regardless of where we are in the fishing calendar, nothing is simple or straight forward here and those who catch work very hard, putting in long hours, encompassing the night as well as the dawn.  Sheelin in all its mercurial magnificence can and does bring even the most proficient trout angler to his knees.  With all this in mind, we are now into the end of July and this along with the coming number of weeks are reputed to be the most challenging of times.
Fishing Sheelin for the angler is something akin to one of those old fashioned two pan balances, the slightest tip will send the fish down and can lead to days or evenings of perpetual blanks – so be prepared, this is Lough Sheelin.

Crover, Lough Sheelin

The Catches…

Des Elliott, Dublin – July 21st , 2 trout at 3 ¼ and 1 ¾ lbs using a Bibio and a Golden Olive at Crane Island.
Dara and Cian Murtagh, Cavan – 6 trout on Thursday July 21st, on wets, heaviest at 2 ½ lbs.
Mathew Keaney, Dublin – 2 trout – 1 at 3 ½ lbs on a Murrough, 1 at 4lbs using a series of Nymph patterns.
David Stafford, Kent – 2 trout at 2 and 4lbs on Murroughs.
Pat Brady, Cavan – 2 trout, heaviest at 3 lbs on Silver Dabblers.
Tim Regan, Dublin – wet fly fishing 2 trout at 2 and 3lbs using Golden Olive Bumbles.

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.
The heaviest fish for this week was a 7 ½ lb trout caught on a Murrough pattern by Belfast angler John Malcom.
Total number of trout recorded : 31
A catch & release policy is actively encouraged on the lake at all times

‘Until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed’
Cardinal John Henry Newman

This week was marred with considerable sadness on hearing of the death of long time Sheelin angler and friend – Tom Murray. Tom will always hold a special place in my heart as it was he who, through the Kells angling club, entrusted me with my first job as a water bailiff on the River Blackwater and more importantly instilled in me his love of fishing and all things associated with rivers and lakes. He was a patient and skilled angler and unselfish in his generousity in imparting his skill and knowledge to others.
It was a privlage and an honour to have had Tom in my life and the angling world will be a much poorer place without this special man.
IFI extends its sincere sympathy to Tom’s wife Bridie and sons Tom, Enda and Fergal.
Requies mea in pace

The Hatches and the Flies…

For this week, day time fishing was poor, late afternoon onwards was the only time when there was any sort of a pick up as far as insects/fly life and trout rises were concerned. Around 5pm trout fed sporadically in the shallows on winged ants, the odd Daddy Long Legs and a few of the other unfortunate terrestrials blown in off the shoreline.
Sedge hatches did not happen until later on in the evening and it was the emerging sedge which the trout were most interested in.  A small brown/grey size 16 Sedge pattern worked for some anglers.
There were hatches of Murrough and good rises of trout to these hatches when they happened but the feeding window was small and the areas scattered so you had to be in the right place at the right time to avail of this night sedge fishing. Even if there are text book conditions sometimes it just doesn’t happen, insects don’t hatch and the trout don’t rise, I’m thinking of an evening this week when everything seemed ideal – good cloud cover, warmth and a pin head ripple but no Murrough and as a consequence no trout, when I enquired as to why there was no hatch of Murrough, the unhelpful answer was ‘I don’t know, I have never asked them’, and the thing about this is that none of us have all the answers and nothing is set in stone and nature has a way of doing what she pleases, without our permission and this is good if not frustrating.

Lough Sheelin’s Murrough

The Murrough although still featuring is tapering off and its replacement on the menu was seen at the weekend with good rises of trout to the Green Peter. Ideal conditions for Peter fishing here are warmth with soft winds blowing from the shoreline.  Fishing in the shallows – Wattty’s Rock, Corru Bay and Inchacup are good places to try.
The Bloodworm normally coincides with the Peter and can provide some great fishing in very specific areas on this lake but the bloodworm requires warmth and calm, a combination that was hard to come together this week as although we had the heat, most days held too big a wave out on the water.
To achieve any degree of success on Sheelin (and any trout lake) it is of paramount importance that anglers know what the trout are feeding on. There is an abundance of insect life going on both above and more so below the surface, at least two thirds of the diet of a trout is made up of subsurface food sources, so even if you’re a dry fly purist knowing what nymphs, larvae and crustaceans are available beneath the surface is very helpful when selecting that team of flies.  It’s larvae – pupae – nymphs – emergers – adults and for this week it was the emergers for the small Sedges and the adult form for the Murrough egg layers that the trout were after with the odd terrestrial thrown in when there was nothing else available.  There were also some trout bashing the pin heads in the middle of the lake.

Knowing the different rises are important too as this gives a great indication as to what exactly the fish are after – boils, slurps, splashes and sips all give us good direction as to what is going on. For instance a crash, and there were a few of them this week, is a trout slamming in on a Murrough as it tries to get to the shoreline.
There were also a few trout caught using skating sedge patterns. At dusk for a sedge, skating across the water surface can be a risky life and death adventure.  Russian Roulette on the wing and why they do this skating business is another  mystery but understandable from a human perspective as when we think about it, these insects have just spent their entire lives crawling around at the bottom of the lake, eating stuff and building homes out of bits of gravel and now they have received their wings, four of them so it’s an exciting time.  Their lives have been spent hiding from trout, now they are going to live dangerously.  Good patterns for sedge fishing on Sheelin are the Stimulator, Grey Flag, Grey Duster, Cinnamon Sedge, a small brown Sedge (12-14) and Dennis Moss’s top Sedge pattern a Hare’s Ear Sedge about which he states ‘ I originally tied this pattern to represent the Murrough on Sheelin, where on a size 10 hook it proved effective during the late evening when the large sedges emerge.  Since then I have found this pattern in sizes 12-14 to be good during hatches of grouse wing and silverhorn sedges’

Early morning Ballynarry, Lough Sheelin

Trout anglers are stalkers and hunters and we are talking about wild fish and wild means they are very easily spooked and not easy to trick. Putting some weight on the subject, many anglers use a 6 possibly a 5 wt line, a tentative suggestion by an observer of those anglers who are catching good trout at the moment would be to opt for a 4 wt which although light allows for a much more delicate entry on to the water, softening that scare effect.
Sheelin’s fishing is still mainly about Trichoptera – the adult sedge or caddis and so therefore dry fly but some good wet fly fishing is happening as well with the old favourites like the Bibio, Golden Olives and Bumbles fished on the blind in that all important wave achieving respectable 2 to 2 ½ lb fish.
There is admittedly a confusing plethora of wet flies from which to choose but sticking to the old tried and tested Sheelin patterns are the best, many of the flies on sale now are perhaps more out to catch fishermen than fish.

The River Inny, Sheelin at Finea Bridge

Lough Sheelin is now heading into the close of the month, bring with it elation and frustration among the angling fraternity here but coupled with these emotions is a respectful acceptance that although difficult, wayward and temperamental this is one of the best trout fishing lakes in the world and as one angler who stumbled his way through this week’s fishing added ‘ I know they’re in there, plenty of them, shoulder to shoulder’ which conjured up an interesting but encouraging image.
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.
The best areas for fishing on the lake this week were Lynch’s pt, the Long Rock, Wattys Rock, Chambers Bay, Church Island to Orangefield, Corru Bay, Inchacup, Bog Bay, Goreport and Sailors Garden.

‘Taking a shoreline break’

 Brenda Montgomery IFI