‘The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials’
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Lough Sheelin - Ireland's angling jewel
Lough Sheelin – Ireland’s angling jewel

The elements as they say in Cavan ‘played holy hell’ with the fishing on Lough Sheelin for this week.  There was a persistent disagreeable and unseasonable mix of continuous rain, nightly chills and contrary wind changes.  The meteorological unpredictability each day was palatable but it seems that nothing deters the true blue blooded Sheelin angler as this week saw boat numbers into the double figures out on the lake for most days (even the wet ones).


Last Friday September 22nd heralded in the autumnal equinox (at 4.02pm precisely) and because we are in the Northern Hemisphere this means that we are now officially into autumn.  With the remnants of summer left in our wake, the trout here are gearing themselves up for their spawning run.  The trout which are going to spawn during the coming winter months undergo physical and chemical changes, as well as these changes, the trout also feel the need to migrate inshore.  This inshore migration doesn’t appear to involve a mass movement of fish, but rather it is staggered out over a number of weeks as the trout move into certain locations and hold in these areas prior to making their river run.  The trout will gather near particular features year after year, with little change, so it is important for the angler in the final throes of the fishing season to search out these areas as it is an almost guarantee that they will hold some fairly hefty fish.

An Autumn emergence Lough Sheelin's sedge Limnephilus vittatus
An Autumn emergence Lough Sheelin’s sedge Limnephilus vittatus

The previous week saw little evidence of any aerial acrobatics from the trout but this week was a very different story when the trout here nearly seemed to prefer the air to the water as they pitched and pirouetted all over the lake.  There are so many theories out there as to why the trout leap and jump out of the water but I can discount one and that is that they pitch because of the approach of the spawning season and they are ‘warming up’ as such to run the rivers. Sunday morning I was down at a coarse fishing lake, just at the break of light, when the water came alive with coarse fish crashing continually through the water and leaping high in the air and not a trout in sight so it seems that launching into the air is a trend apparently shared among all our piscatorial friends.

Sporting autumn colours, one of Lough Sheelin's cinnamon sedges - Limnephilus lunatus
Sporting autumn colours, one of Lough Sheelin’s cinnamon sedges – Limnephilus lunatus

The water level on Lough Sheelin has risen substantially over the past weeks, a combination of fresh water, plenty of wave action and the fact that trout are collecting and moving around because of this last stage of the season does excite the fish and this excitement could be reflected in these constant breaks through the surface.

Under side view of a Sheelin sedge
Under side view of a Sheelin sedge

A well known Sheelin guide from years gone by firmly believed that the trout were jumping for joy and I’m sticking with Kit Rooney on this one.

A 5lb autumnal Sheelin fish
A 5lb autumnal Sheelin fish

This week saw some good fish being caught but as always with Sheelin, it was tough going and many anglers drew daily blanks.  This is a funny time of the fishing season in that the fish are not looking for food coupled with the fact that they are carrying a past season of wariness behind them so for now there are no firm takes to the artificial and sometimes it seems as though the trout are just entertaining themselves with the teams of pro –offered flies and are not seriously interested.  But still a well presented fly will move a fish even if they are not interested in dining, the trout may be stimulated by reflex to an easy meal, or they may take out of sheer aggression but either way if they take the fly, the result is usually a positive one.  The flies that did well this week were the Dabblers (in silver & gold or a black on the point), the Invictas – silver and particularly a pearly green bodied Invicta, the Sooty Olives, the Bibios, the Black Pennell (on the top dropper), an Octopus (as the top dropper), a Green Daddy (on the point) and the Orange Daddy.  When it comes to choosing a fly pattern, a good plan would be to combine something old with something new to attract the attention of the fish – silvers, golds, greens and reds are the colours that are working.  Without preaching to the converted late-season tactics never change – pulling the wets is the only thing that works, more than half a dozen pulls on a short line, combined with a smooth drawn out lift, works best of all.  An undisturbed fish is a confident fish and more likely to take a fly.  The majority of takes will come either just after the fly has landed, within the first few pull or on the lift.

Dry Sedge Pattern
Dry Sedge Pattern

The heaviest fish for this week weighed in at 7lbs 2oz  caught by Krisjanis Grundmanis, Dublin on a silver lure, fishing mid lake.

Total number of trout recorded: 31

Selection of Catches

  • Des Elliott, Dublin – 5 trout for 4 days fishing, heaviest at 3lbs, using Bibio and Sooty Olives.
  • Aleksis Zelastiba, Navan – 2 trout heaviest at 4lbs using lures fishing off Church Island.
  • Osvalds Rukis, Navan – 3 trout heaviest at 5lbs using silver and gold lures, fishing off Plunketts Pt.
  • Vladislavs Vircavnieks, Dublin – 2 trout heaviest at 4 ½ lbs fishing with lures out from Finea.
  • Pat Brady, Cavan – 2 trout, heaviest at 3lbs using Silver Invictas and Pennells.
  • Michael Flynn, Wexford – 2 trout, heaviest at 2 ½ caught using Dabblers off Inchacup Island.
  • Eamon Connors, Ardee –  1 trout at 2 ½ lbs wet fly fishing off Derry pt.
  • David Kellett, Dublin – 5 trout for the week, heaviest at 3 ½ lbs using a green bodied Pearly Invicta.
‘Release to spawn’ Christopher Defillon
‘Release to spawn’ Christopher Defillon

Lures worked well for the majority of anglers and big tyings like the humungus and minkies brought the trout up and had a modest degree of success.

Sticking to the shoreline - a Lough Sheelin Buzzer
Sticking to the shoreline – a Lough Sheelin Buzzer

Although there are still some sedges around, olives and buzzer hatches, the weather is destroying any hope of these getting out on to the water and attracting fish.  It’s all about the wets but still Andrew Gibbons from Dublin bucked the trend by using a dry sedge in Bog Bay earlier in the week and landing himself a 2 ½ pounder in the process.

Cian Murtagh measuring up
Cian Murtagh measuring up

The flies most used this week by anglers were the Stimulators (in Claret and Orange), Klinkhammers, Gorgeous George, Yellow Humpies, the Dabblers (Claret, Silver and Green), 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 Muddled Daddy, the F Fly, the Pearly Invicta, Silver Invicta.

An Irish Claret & Red Straggle Dabbler
An Irish Claret & Red Straggle Dabbler

A good combination in a wave is putting Stimulator as the top dropper, a claret in the middle and gold on the point.

Gary McKiernan of Lough Sheelin Guiding with a 52cm trout
Gary McKiernan of Lough Sheelin Guiding with a 52cm trout

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.

Almost gone for another season - Lough Sheelin's Peter (Agrypnia varia)
Almost gone for another season – Lough Sheelin’s Peter (Agrypnia varia)

Go fishing…

Up coming competitions

The McIntyre/Guider Cup – Saturday September 30th, starting at Kilnahard 11.0am to 6pm, this is an open fly fishing competition and gives a good warm up before the biggest competition of the season on October 1st.  For further information please contact Dessie McEntee on 047 77216 or 086 8937568.

LSTPA Stream Rehabilitation Competition
LSTPA Stream Rehabilitation Competition

The LSTPA Stream Rehabilitation Competition will be held on Sunday October 1st 11.0am – 6pm. Please contact Thomas Lynch at 087 9132033

Ronnie Cox Memorial Cancer Research Ireland Fundraising Competition. A fundraising competition will be held on Saturday the 7th of October, 2017 on Lough Sheelin.  This competition will be hosted by the L.S.T.P.A and will be fished from 11am to 6pm.  Voluntary contributions are welcome and this event will be an enjoyable social occasion.  All donations of prizes are welcome and any surplus will be raffled off and the proceeds will go towards the Cancer Research Ireland Fund.

All enquires should made to Eamonn Ross @ 086 6619834, email [email protected]
The competition will be hosted by the L.S.T.P.A.

The Cavan/Monaghan Garda Divisional Fly Fishing Championship and Open Competition will be held at Lough Sheelin on Sunday October 8th 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 Joe O’Connor at   086 8509229

Thomas Harten, Cavan with his autumn fish
Thomas Harten, Cavan with his autumn fish

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.
A Blue tailed Damsel fly
A Blue tailed Damsel fly

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.

Peter Gissell guided by Mike Kelly, Friday September 22nd
Peter Gissell guided by Mike Kelly, Friday September 22nd

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.