Lough Sheelin Angling Report By Brenda Montgomery, IFI September 26th – October 2nd 2016

‘There’s no place quite like the mist of morning and the stillness of the water…
The quieter you become, the more you can hear’


Smoke on water – Lough Sheelin, September 2016

There was nothing gentle or sedate about Lough Sheelin mid-week as south westerly’s rampaged down the centre of this lake, creating an angry swell of white crested waves reaching alarming heights. The bulk of this week’s fishing days were dominated by strong winds rendering the centre section of the lake and down by Finea perilous and virtually impassable, consequently radically limiting anglers to the very sheltered inlets, bays and behind islands on these days.
Sinking deeper into autumn, temperatures have dropped and with the help of a tenacious wind there was a freshness edged with a winter chill which had been missing in the previous weeks.

The Catches…

Now, into October there is a sense of urgency among those who fish Lough Sheelin, the need to get out there to fish before the close of season, now, only days away, a thirst to wring out that last drop of piscatorial sport from this mercurial stretch of water, as if to sustain themselves for the long days of winter that lie ahead.
The heaviest fish for this week was a trout of 6 ½ lbs caught by David Sullivan, Northern Ireland using a Stimulator
Total number of trout recorded : 39

Selection of Catches
Dara Murtagh, Cavan – 1 trout at 3lbs on wets at Hollywell.
Dominic Kerrigan – 3 trout on wets, heaviest at 3lbs.
Gerry Timoney – 1 trout at 4 ¼ lbs at Sailors Garden, September 27th.
Owen Jacob, Dublin – 2 trout at 4 ½ and 4 ¾ lbs on wets.
Ian Reynolds, Carrick – 2 trout, September 30th, 2lbs, caught on Dabblers.
Pat Brady, Cavan – 2 trout, heaviest at 3lbs using Claret Dabblers and Peters.
Damien McGort, Castleblayney – 2 trout heaviest at 3 ½ using Leggy Green Peters and Bumbles.

‘Happiness is a Sheelin trout’

Stephen Furlong, Summerhill, Co.Meath with his trout of 4lbs caught Monday September 26th

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.


On Sunday October 2nd Lough Sheelin’s angling club The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association hosted their annual Stream Rehabilitation Competition. Now into its 11th year this competition attracted 256 anglers from all over Ireland.  Sheelin however looks after itself regardless of the numbers who fish it and so as a heavy early morning mist burnt away to give a day of bright sunshine and an almost cloudless sky anglers struggled in far from ideal fishing conditions.  Despite the weather obstacles a respectable number of fish were brought in at the close of the day with Kingscourt angler Niall Burns taking the top prize with his 48.5cm trout weighing in at 3.04lbs.  It was the second time in two days where Mayo had to take second place as Tony Baines came in a tight second with a fish at 2ozs lighter at 50cm.

Tackling up
Tackling up

Heading out
Heading out

Taking Off
Taking Off

Niall Burns, Kingscourt, Co.Cavan with his winning 3lbs 4oz fish
LSTPA Stream Rehabilitation Competition, Lough Sheelin 2016

1st Niall Burns 1 trout at 3lbs 4ozs
2nd Tony Baines 1 trout at 3lbs 2ozs
3rd Peter Crilly 1 trout at 2lbs 14ozs
4th Eddie Harte 1 trout at 2lbs 14ozs
The 7th Irish Fly Fair and International Angling Show – Galway Bay Hotel in Salthill. 12th and 13th of November 2016 Ireland’s biggest fly fishing extravaganza, and now one of the top fly fishing shows in Europe. The event will again feature a huge host of world famous fly dressers and angling stands, under one roof in Ireland. Fly dressers, fly casters and angling celebrities from all over the globe will gather at the Galway Bay Hotel, in Salthill, to participate in the 7th Irish Fly Fair and International Angling Show. Which will be held on the 12th and 13th of November. Many International and local visitors will come to this celebrated event, and have the opportunity to see some of the finest fly dressers from around the world practice their art. Champion fly casters will be available to demonstrate and advise on fly casting. Well known professional fly fisher and show organizer Stevie Munn said: “Last year, The Irish Fly Fair saw some of the world’s best fly casters and fly tiers descend on The Galway Bay Hotel in Salthill. This show is a fantastic success with many of the fly dressers, demonstrators, exhibitors and the tackle trade rebooked for this year’s event. With thousands of visitors to the show, the feedback is always exceptionally positive, many saying it was the best fly fishing angling show they have ever been to. We hope to build on this success and have new trade stands, fly tyers and celebrities again for this year.” The tackle trade will be very well represented at this year’s event, with a huge range of quality trade stands in the form of tackle, outdoor clothing, fishing holidays, fly tying gear and various other stands, so there is something for everyone! The event team would like to welcome back angling celebrities, Hywel Morgan, Glenda Powell and Peter O’Reilly, who will be demonstrating and talking on all aspects of fly fishing! We would also like to welcome our new guests, including Spey casting legends Scotland’s Eoin Fairgrieve and Gordon Armstrong and Master Fly-casting Instructor Christopher Rownes from Guideline. In addition, there will be fly tying tuition from qualified angling instructors APGAI Ireland, available fly tying lessons during the two-day exhibition. Experts from the Inland Fisheries Ireland, Tom Doc Sullivan, Dr Ken Whelan, FISSTA and many more will be hosting talks and seminars on various angling related topics. The “Youth Fly Tying Competition” will give the young people a chance to show the “Pro Fly Dressers” what they can do. The Irish Fly Fair is hailed as one of the finest shows of its kind in Europe, a great weekend to meet up with old friends and make new ones! This show is a must for all angling enthusiasts. A Big Thank you to all who support the show, including the sponsors Veniard, Marryat ,Partridge, Costa and Semperfli. This is the undisputed best Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Show in all of Ireland, and one not to be missed. The show is held in one of Galway’s best hotels. Numerous visitors come each year for the weekend with their families to experience the whole atmosphere of the show.
Please come along and give it your support, angling needs feel good events like this. For more details visit our website. www.irishflyfair.com or contact Stevie Munn by Email: [email protected] www.irishflyfair.com.

Lough Sheelin, September 2016

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
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
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

The Hatches and the Flies…

The turbulent stormy conditions churned Lough Sheelin’s waters from top to bottom leading to inevitable high discolouration which in turn influenced anglers colour choice for wet flies and lures with bright colours and silver bodies and a glittery treaded twist through, all the more important to catch a trout’s attention in their murky aquatic environs.
For anglers nymphing, the red Holographic Diawl Bach was a must for the top dropper because red is the first colour to be lost in water so logically it should be as close to the surface as possible, somewhere that the fish are going to be able to pick out that red.  Although as this fly is fished slowly and allowed to descend through the water column, it will lose its colour and become all very natural.  The Diawl Bach was responsible for the landing of a beautiful 5 pounder on Friday last by German angler Dieter Schmidt.

A Sheelin moth

The fly life has all but disappeared and what is there was only in evidence tight to shorelines and in the very sheltered areas. There were some hatches of buzzer or midges around Bog Bay, Goreport and the Sailors garden, mostly in evidence towards the later part of the week when the winds died and the sun brought a heat into the afternoon and evenings. Buzzer hatches regularly occur in the shallows but they do need calm water, stealth is always a requisite but more so at this time of the year when the autumn sun is lower in the sky resulting in lower sun angles through most of the day, which means longer shadows and an increased chance of spooking the fish with a thoughtless cast.  Delicate presentation is required to fish emerger patterns effectively; this is a time for single flies, fine tippets, lightweight rods and keeping casting to an absolute minimum to avoid spooking already distracted fish.  Good patterns for the buzzer anglers were the Klinkhammers, the Snatchers, Bob’s Bits and the F- Fly.

There were small hatches of the September olive round the back of Church Island.
An odd terrestrial wandered on to the water and having a few soft hackle patterns to emulate these drowning insects increased the odds of catching a brown. A terrestrial pattern landed into the water with a deliberate loud plop and a few strips during the drift will help to get the fish looking at what you have on offer.  Wind- blown terrestrials invariably require a good breeze to bring them to the trout’s attention, normally found in open water, in a good wave and where the wind lanes are will often hold pods of trout feeding on these unfortunate non aquatic insects.  A two- fly set up using a small Black or Ginger Hopper on the point and perhaps a dark Sedgehog pattern on the top dropper might attract, if not a small black Foam Beetle might do the trick.
However, when the wind whipped up, all insects life disappeared and for most of the days we were left with a turbulent stretch of furious grey water seemingly devoid of life. On the calmer days the Sheelin trout reverted back to their previous week’s antics of spiraling through the air, bursting through the water as if their breaks had failed and displaying a show off abandonment for anyone who cared to watch.
This is the part of the season where it really is pot luck and where anything goes as far as fly patterns are concerned and this is because our Sheelin trout are not interested in food, their focus is getting into locations close to rivers for their eventual spawning run later this month. At this late stage of the fishing year anglers have to get cuter.  You can’t really blame the trout for shying away from flies after months of having these imitations chucked at them.  There are just so many times that a fly will work but throw in a twist, scale down the size or introduce a subtler target and the interest from the fish may well return.  Perhaps this why all those variants have appeared from, as those keen fly tyers constantly adapt and revisit the traditional favourite patterns.  ‘One of my own’ sound familiar Mick Kelly?
The lures i.e. the Minkies and Humungus do well twice on this lake, early season – March and the beginning of April and now at the back end of the season the lures take up position once more as getting results again.   Fished in relatively deep water, where a bit of searching and knowledge come into play, an angler can land a fairly substantial weight.  One of the reasons as to why the trout go for a fairly large lure at this stage of the season, is because their feeding habits have changed slightly and their diets are focused on fairly big food i.e. the fry which provide plenty of calories without that much energy expenditure (energy that needs to be saved for that river run and the long weeks of lean feeding ahead) so using large streamers with lots of flash is a good way to invite a strike. Also, the trout’s appetite has slowed down a bit so as well as looking for a bigger meal their strike on the patterns could be simply because of aggression and instinct.

With Sheelin there is a new rule every day and particularly in the run down to the end of season, truer words were never spoken. The majority of anglers were dragging wets, teams of threes perhaps a Kate McLaren as the top dropper, a good Leggy Peter in the middle and a Claret UV Dabbler on the point.  Golden Olives, Bumbles, Red Tailed Peters, Pearly Dabblers, Stimulators and Silver Invictas all were responsible for consistent catches averaging up to 3lbs.

Kilnahard, Lough Sheelin

Lough Sheelin has a reputation for the ‘heavy weights’- trout of 5lb plus, the bar is set high for this fickle and moody stretch of wild brown trout water.  This reputation can be a distinct disadvantage as there is a huge expectation there among a lot of anglers, a need for Sheelin to deliver something special to them, nobody who knows Lough Sheelin has any doubt on the size of the trout underneath those waves but it’s the frustration of catching them (or not as is usually the case) that sometimes boils over in the angling fraternity.  I remember one angler some years back, before the start of a fishing competition here excitedly telling me ‘that Lough Sheelin is like Lough Arrow only on steroids’.  There is an underlying disquiet among the local anglers and occasionally with the visitors, that belies the catching of a mere 2lb fish, a dismissiveness from others that stirs in us a sense a failure but exalts and elates the landing of a true Sheelin fish  – 6lbs or beyond.  I can’t think of any other lake in Ireland where anything under 3lbs breeds dissatisfaction.

Sunset on Sheelin

Both movement and colour seem to be important at this stage of the fishing season. The old tried and tested patterns are the best and the fly pattern that is still doing consistently well on this lake are the Dabblers  – Claret, Olive, Silver, Sooty, Pearly, Ginger and Peter Ross. Patterns that worked best were those with longer hackles or wings to produce extra movement and a more streamlined shape.
Minkies and Humungus in black with a twist of silver and Streamers on sinking lines as well as the Orange Booby for the Daphnia addicts.
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.
image024The areas of the lake that featured well were around Church Island, Rusheen, down along Holywell, Wilsons pt, Chambers, the Long Rock and Derrahorn.
Ross (on the point, good for when the trout are feeding on the fry), the Claret George, Green George, Klinkhammers, Stimulators, Detached Daddies, Fiery Browns, the strong attractor patterns like the Butcher and Bloody Butcher which are fantastic flies to use when fish are on the fry with their silver bodies and dark wing, the Sooty Olive, the Alexandra and the Dunkeld.
The Zulu is a very effective pattern and although not that commonly used on Sheelin can be an excellent fly when fished in a team of flies, on the top dropper.

Kilnahard, Lough Sheelin

Brenda Montgomery IFI