Lough Sheelin...
Lough Sheelin…

‘Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin’

Lough Sheelin attracted a number of anglers to its waters in the final days of this year’s angling season. The last few fishing days before the close of play here – October 12th, were marked by those who wanted to avail of those last precious days of chances, a grasping on to the dregs of a past season as if to store up memories to tide them over the coming winter months followed by a mass exodus of boats from the piers and shorelines as the light faded and darkness heralded the official farewell for another 18 weeks here.

Cal Healy, Cork fishing with Lough Sheelin Guiding Services with his superb trout
Cal Healy, Cork fishing with Lough Sheelin Guiding Services with his superb trout


Despite the end being in sight, it has been a busy number of days here. Sunday October 8th saw the annual Garda Open Fly Fishing Competition being run on the lake. This event attracted 77 anglers hailing from various parts of Ireland as well as the Sheelin locals. The weather put up its usual obstacles with mirror calm conditions persisting throughout the day. The winner of this competition was Northern Ireland angler Cathal Rush with a fish of 3.12 lbs caught using a CDC Buzzer. The angler who took second place immediately grabbed my attention as it was the one and only Donald Mclearn.

'Its all about the spots' - Shane MacNamme's spotty end of season trout (released)
‘Its all about the spots’ – Shane MacNamme’s spotty end of season trout (released)

Donald is from county Down in Northern Ireland and this is the man who was responsible for inventing one of Lough Sheelin’s most successful trout fly – the Dabbler. The original dabbler – the Golden Olive was tied by Donald in the mid 1990s. His nicknamed ‘dabbler’  as far as I know (and I’m open to correction) began life as an accident. He was tying some Goslings for a competition in Lough Melvin and discovered that he had run out of grey mallard  flank. He replaced the grey mallard with bronze mallard and a deadly pattern was born. It is known to take fish anywhere on the cast – although the top dropper is a favourite position. As with many Irish patterns, the impressionistic nature of the pattern accounts for its success and its range of variants. It is further recognised how the cloak style mallard wing offers an impression of an emerging insect.

Andrew Brown, Dublin with his trout caught on a Black Smut, October 8th
Andrew Brown, Dublin with his trout caught on a Black Smut, October 8th

Former ‘Trout and Salmon’ writer Rod Tye remarked that the main reason why the Dabbler works well is due to the gosling-type wing that encircles the body (Trout and Salmon 2000, May, p.13). Moreover, the cloak style mallard wing causes multiple strands of mallard to split and enclose the fly. This engenders considerable movement and vitality to the fly when pulled through the water. Regardless of anything this is a superb and reliable fly (along with its variants) on Sheelin and it was an honour to get to meet the inventor.

‘Stuck on you’ - a Sheelin sedge on shoreline reed
‘Stuck on you’ – a Sheelin sedge on shoreline reed

A group of anglers held an ‘unofficial’ last day competition on Thursday deciding at the same time to incorporate a fund raising element into this affable get together of fishing friends. The outcome was great fishing punctuated by a Bar B Q out on Church Island with the end result of raising over €400 for the charity ‘Boyne River Rescue’. A nice finishing touch by the local Lough Sheelin anglers.

One for the future (Damien Willis)
One for the future (Damien Willis)

The best areas for fishing on the lake this week was predominantly out in the deep but along the Western shore particularly Orangefield, Church Island, Inchacup, the Long Rock, Lynch’s pt and in and around Kilnahard and Chambers were good as well. The heaviest fish for this week weighed in 7 ½ lbs caught by Dublin angler Juris Dzerins using lures, fishing mid lake.

Total number of trout recorded: 26

Enrico Fantasia, Dublin with his 47cm trout
Enrico Fantasia, Dublin with his 47cm trout

Selection of Catches

  • Enrico Fantasia, Dublin – 1 trout at 47cm using a Claret Dabbler.
  • Dean Reed, France – 1 trout at 46cm using a Stimulator fishing off Church Island.
  • Andrew Brown, Dublin – 2 trout heaviest at 2 ½ lbs on Smutts.
  • Cal Healy, Cork – 1 trout at 68cm using a Claret Bumble.
  • Gary McKiernan (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) – 5 trout at 57cm, 50cm, 56cm, 63cm and 68cm, all on the wets.
  • Craig Sheridan, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 5 ½ lbs using a Silver Dabbler.
  • Alex Kealy, Dublin – 3 trout for the week, best at 3lbs caught on a Purple and Silver Dabbler.
  • Pat Brady, Cavan – 1 trout at 2lbs on an Octopus.
  • Jevgenijs Belinsky, Dublin – 2 trout, heaviest at 4lbs using lures.
  • Sergeji Mikhailov, Navan – October 12th 2 trout heaviest at 5lbs using lures, fishing off Church Island.
  • Vasilijs Babinski, Navan – 2 trout, heaviest at 4½ lbs using lures.

The Flies

Claret Bumble - Kevin Sheridan
Claret Bumble – Kevin Sheridan

For the past week and indeed for the past month really anything goes as far as the choice of fly teams are concerned on Lough Sheelin. The set up which the angler feels most confident with is the advice I hear time and time again but still there were some artificials that stood out from the crowd by claiming the most successes and even as this season drew its final breath these flies were still in top place.  The Stimulatosr used as a top dropper, something with claret in there – a Claret Bumble, a Purple Daddy and then the Dabblers which overall seemed to be a very consistent catcher – Dabblers in silver, fiery brown, green and gold.

 Paul Caslin's Fiery Brown & Silver Combo
Paul Caslin’s Fiery Brown & Silver Combo

Other flies which featured were the Klinkhammers, Gorgeous George, Yellow Humpies, the hoppers, the red-tailed Green Peter, the Sedge Invicta, the Pearly Invicta, the Mallard & Claret, the Black Pennell, the Claret Pennell, the Golden Olive Bumble, Silver Daddy, the Pearly Invicta, Silver Invicta and the Golden Olive Bumble.

Gerry Donohoe

The late Gerry Donohoe working with me on a water sampling job on Lough Sheelin
The late Gerry Donohoe working with me on a water sampling job on Lough Sheelin ‘Meus in pace’

October 8th brought great sadness for me with the death of Gerry Donohoe.  Gerry worked for over 40 years with the Fisheries Board, starting in the West of Ireland and later returning to his home turf of Lough Sheelin.  Gerry was my work partner for 13 years and as well as being totally dedicated to his job, he was my best friend. With him by my side everything was possible and with his passing brings great loss to myself, his family & friends and to Lough Sheelin to which he cared so passionately for.  At his funeral Father Quinn quoted from Newman’s prayer ‘till the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over and our work is done’.  Gerry’s work is done but his memory lives on forever.  Requiesce in pace.

Tight lines for 2018

House Rules

A permit is required to fish Lough Sheelin. Buy your permit online at: shop.fishinginireland.info or from any of the permit distributors listed here.

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

 BYE-LAW 949 strictly prohibits:

  • The taking of any brown trout of less than 36 centimetres.
  • For a person to fish with more than 2 rods at any one time.
  • To fish with more than 4 rods at any one time when there is more than one person on board the boat concerned.
  • For a person to take more than 2 trout per day.
  • All trolling on the lake from March 1st to June 16th (inclusive).
  • To fish or to attempt to take or to fish for, fish of any kind other than during the period from March 1st to October 12th in any year.

Join the Club…

For anyone interested in joining Lough Sheelin’s Angling Club – The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033.

Guides and ghillies…

Grey Duster GuidingGrey Duster Guiding
Kenneth O’Keeffe
086 8984172 Email: [email protected]

Christopher Defillon
Tel: +33 68 596 4369  Email: [email protected]
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.defillon

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services
Tel: 087 1245927 Web: www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com

John Mulvany
[email protected] 086 2490076

D.C Angling & Guiding Services
contact David @ 087 3946989

Michael Farrell
Tel: 087 4194156 or  +353 43 6681298
Email: [email protected]

Michael Flanagan,
Trout and Pike Guide.
Email: [email protected] Web: www.midlandangling.com


We would implore anglers and all other users to wear life jackets for their own safety as well as it being the law.

Life jackets are required by law – SI No 921 of 2005 – Pleasure Craft (Personal Flotation Devices and Operation) (Safety) Regulations 2005.Water  rarely gives second chances and a life jacket is just that – it saves your life.

Please put on and keep on that life jacket until you are back on dry land.

An nocturnal observer – Lough Sheelin, October 12th
An nocturnal observer – Lough Sheelin, October 12th