‘Foster child of silence and slow time’
John Keats

Lough Sheelin, June 2017
Lough Sheelin, June 2017

People spend half their lives chasing shadows. But what would it feel like to actually catch one? This is a line which BMW are now using to advertise their new shadow edition 3 series but every time I hear it I can’t help thinking of Sheelin and its anglers chasing their own personal shadows in the form of this lake’s elusive and evasive trout. The weather threw up a heavy obstacle for most of this week, certainly for our day time anglers, as temperatures rose to a searing 26 degrees with no reprieve until Thursday. The lake was bathed in tropical sunshine and blue skies, there was an absence of boats along with a silence of trout movement. There are a hundred and one theories and speculations about trout fishing in bright sunny conditions but in general it can be difficult and the trout most definitely move further down the water column. Trout usually do not like hot sunny weather. The shallow waters heat up easily so oxygen is driven off. Fish move out into deeper water and go down to avoid bright sunlight. Trout of course do not stop feeding just because it’s hot so sinking lines with a lure or blob might work on those rare baking hot days. Contradicting the ‘going down deep’ theory was Cork angler Brian Reilly who caught a 2 ½ pounder using a buzzer pattern on a longish leader on a floating line in the blazing heat in Bog Bay on Tuesday last.

A beautifully marked trout for Azim (guided by Richie Johnston)
A beautifully marked trout for Azim (guided by Richie Johnston)

The hatches

Chocolate drop
Chocolate drop

Another reason for trout going down in the water on bright sunny days is that daphnia do the same and the trout are feeding around mid-lake on this water flea.  The rule for the Daphnia feeders on cloudy days when they are feeding high in the water is to use a vibrant orange tying but for this week it was better to go deep with lime green.

A factor also to be considered in blue sky conditions is of course the angler’s own visibility.

A tropical Lough Sheelin
A tropical Lough Sheelin

Early morning , from 5am to 10am some trout were rising to dry flies and buzzers in the top few feet by mid-day they were at least 3 -5 feet down requiring a different line and imitation. There was some caenis on the lake particularly in the very early hours but Lough Sheelin has never really featured as a caenis fishing lake, unlike Lough Corrib and no catches were reported by the caenis fishing advocates for this week at least. Fishing ‘the anglers curse’ requires very exact conditions mainly mirror calm or just a pin head of a ripple, very accurate casting and small imitations, it’s a tricky one to match all the dots with.

French angler Jean Louis Marchal (guided by Lough Sheelin Guiding services) with a beautiful 56 cm trout
French angler Jean Louis Marchal (guided by Lough Sheelin Guiding services) with a beautiful 56 cm trout

The Catches

While the warm weather did make fishing more difficult during the day, once it got to 7pm things became easier particularly with the appearance of surface trout food – spent gnats, a huge variety of sedges as well as buzzers and the odd terrestrial.

Thursday threw to the weekend saw a different kind of weather, cooler with some rain and this made fishing abit more attractive. Day time fishing was all about fishing on the blind with patterns with Claret/Gold and Orange ruling the day light hours.

Richie Johnston's 3 ½ lb trout caught on a Green - about Lough Sheelin's Mayfly Richie commented ' where catches lacked numbers, some great fish were caught'
Richie Johnston’s 3 ½ lb trout caught on a Green – about Lough Sheelin’s Mayfly Richie commented ‘ where catches lacked numbers, some great fish were caught’

Lough Sheelin is indisputably a temperamental and unpredictable stretch of water but that in a way adds to its attractiveness, there is no set pattern, no rules, every day is different and whereas one drift might fish exceptionally well one day the next there could be not a stir of fish. We can’t put Lough Sheelin into a nice neat little box and say this is what works, this is where it works and this is when and how it works, this lake and its trout refuses to conform to human rationale and consistency which in turn poses continual challenges to its anglers. There is a lot of procrastination within the angling fraternity, we want it easy but Sheelin will never be easy, this is a lake that contains wild trout there is nothing tamed here. It seems, going on the sparse number of anglers who fished this week, that people want easy, ‘duffers fortnight’ attracts huge numbers of anglers to this stretch of water but then after the mayfly there is that predictable drop.

Lough Sheelin's witching hour
Lough Sheelin’s witching hour

The heaviest fish for this week was a 6 lb trout caught by Gene Brady, Cavan using a Golden Olive Bumble

Total number of trout recorded: 39

Selection of Catches

  • Ronan Clarke – 3 fish, heaviest at 3 ½ lbs on Spent Gnat patterns.
  • William Craig, Northern Ireland – 2 trout at 2 & 2 ½ lbs using Claret Stimulators.
  • Pat Brady, Cavan – 2 trout, heaviest at 3 lbs using Golden Olive Bumbles.
  • Jean Louis Marchal, France – 4 trout heaviest at 56cm fishing mayfly patterns.
  • Cathal Rush, Northern Ireland – 6 trout heaviest at 4 lbs fishing Claret Hoppers.
  • Eamon Connors, Ardee – 4 trout heaviest at 3lbs on wets and spent gnat patterns.
  • George Malcom, Dublin – 1 trout at 3 ½ lbs on Claret Humpies.
  • Gary McKiernan (Lough Sheelin Guiding Services) – 1 trout at 2 ½ lbs on June 23rd on a Golden Dabbler.
  • Gene Brady, Cavan – 4 trout heaviest at 6lbs using Golden Olive Bumbles.
  • Richie Johnston, Dublin – 1 trout at 3½ lbs on a Green Mayfly.
  • David Kellett, Dublin – 5 trout for the week, heaviest at 4 lbs using Stimulators and Royal Wulffs.
  • Pat Bannon, Ballyjamesduff – 3 trout, heaviest at 2 ½ lbs fishing wets.

The flies

Jimmy Tyrrell's Silver Sedges
Jimmy Tyrrell’s Silver Sedges

Lough Sheelin fished well for this week, offering good fishing on the blind for anglers using Stimulators, Golden Olive Bumbles, Gorgeous George, Humpies, Hoppers, Mayfly patterns and Claret & Mallard. Saturday was an excellent fishing day, particularly in the morning which had good cloud cover, a nice wave and warmth and yet there were only a handful of anglers out enjoying it all. There was no insect surface activity so it was up to the angler to bring up the fish and our weekend anglers seemed to have no problems attracting the Sheelin fish up to the surface. As the day light slipped into twilight fishing with Buzzers, Spent Gnat patterns, Royal & Grey Wulffs and Murrough featured the most in catches.

This week, certainly during day time fishing the Stimulator came up trumps particularly in Orange and Claret as a top dropper. The Stimulator is a very good all-purpose searching pattern and with little or no day time surface activity this was a must.  It is a remarkable ‘attractor’ fly that coaxes reluctant large trout to strike.

The Stimulator debate: –

“I invented that,” Jim Slattery says, “That was my tie”. Jim, who moved to West Yellowstone, is not usually accredited with being the original designer of the Stimulator fly fishing pattern. This honor normally goes to Randall Kaufmann, shop owner and American West Coast angler. Jim tells friends and customers that he originally tied this stonefly pattern when he lived in New Jersey back in 1980, to fish the Musconetcong River. It was based on the Sofa Pillow and originally called the Fluttering Stonefly but later changed to the Stimulator after a New York City punk-rock group. He tells clients that the fly was nearly named after his own punk rock band called Violator. As an attractor fly the Stimulator name is superb. It does what it says on the tin. It stimulates the trout’s interest into taking the fly. Jim’s original fly was a bit different to the Stimulator tied today. The shape, contrasting colors, materials used, length of thorax and abdomen were roughly the same. What was different was that the hair for the wing was not stacked. It was still great at catching fish, so much so that it came to the attention of Randell Kaufmann in California. He modified it, kept the same name and did a lot to expose this style of tying. It is affectionately known as the “Stim” or “Stimmie”. Jim Slattery owns Fireside Angler in the town of West Yellowstone.

The Claret Stimulator
The Claret Stimulator

The most successful flies this week were the wet Mayfly patterns in greens with mixes of brown and white mingled through, the French Partridge, the Goslings, Soft Hackle Mayfly Emergers, CDC Mayfly Emergers, the Wulffs (grey and royal), the Spent Gnat patterns (a predominance of black worked best) and the Sedges (sizes 12 -14) – Shipman’s Sedges, GRHE’s and suspenders, all in sizes 12 through to 16.. Other patterns catching fish were the Dabblers (Claret, Green, Gold and Silver), Bobs Bits in different colours and sizes to fish the surface film, Hackled Buzzer patterns to fish high in the water or on the drop, Pheasant Tail nymphs and Hare’s Ear for good surface film penetration. Humpies, Gorgeous George, Humpies, Klinkhammers, Stimulators (in orange and claret) and Bumbles (Golden and Cock Robin).

Go fishing…

Youth angling day

The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association will be hosting a Youth angling day in July. 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.

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.

Getting it right – Caoimhe & Oisin Sheridan
Getting it right – Caoimhe & Oisin Sheridan

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.


Sheelin sunset
Sheelin sunset