‘Fly-fishing is a continuous process that you learn to love for its own sake’
 John Gierach. 

Stevie Munn with one of his four fish caught within an hour on June 16th
Stevie Munn with one of his four fish caught within an hour on June 16th

‘I could fish deep into the night, well past the light but at the end of the day it’s the end of the day’, words by angler Burhan which reflected the mood that existed throughout the days and evenings on Lough Sheelin for this week, where effort surpassed reward.

Christopher Defillon with his trout caught fishing wet fly patterns
Christopher Defillon with his trout caught fishing wet fly patterns

A respectable number of anglers fished this lake over the past seven days, at various times using various methods as well as a mind boggling array of flies but Lough Sheelin’s trout, with a discouraging consistency, refused to co-operate and whereas plenty of fish were seen on the move and there were numerous takes, misses, extended plays and escapes, actual captures were few and far between.  Well known angling instructor and writer Stevie Munn commented wryly that ‘Sheelin does not give up its babies easily’ and you can sing that one Mr Munn.  However, the same man, landed himself four heavy weights last Friday night within an impressive one hour period (throwing this Lough Sheelin angling reporter a very welcome life line!) attributing his success to the right conditions and a bit of luck rather than his renowned skill as a trout angler.

After sunset at Tonagh, Lough Sheelin
After sunset at Tonagh, Lough Sheelin

The weather this week (with an unwelcome regularity) again had a hugely negative influence on the fishing on this lake and it was the constantly changing wind direction which mostly played havoc with the rises and feeding of trout. ‘A slight increase in wind strength or change of wind direction will put surface feeding wild brown trout down’ states author Dennis Moss in his book Trout From A Boat. The daytime was mainly fishing blind but the evening saw good rises of fish to the surface food – mainly spent, buzzer and sedge with an encouraging movement of trout. As usual, things would be looking good from an angling point of view and then there would be an abrupt turnaround in wind direction and the fish would vanish, never to resurface again for the rest of the evening. The weather as they say in Cavan ‘played holy hell with the fishing’.

A beautiful trout caught by Stevie Munn, Belfast
A beautiful trout caught by Stevie Munn, Belfast

Forever keeping a watchful eye on the competition, that is the other great Irish trout lakes mainly the western ones of Corrib, Conn and Mask but also neighbouring Ennell, Sheelin’s difficulties reassuringly are reflected everywhere with reports of poor and scanty fishing and disinterested trout.

There is a general consensus that ‘it is all down to the weather’ but I’m not so sure.

The Hatches


Lough Sheelin’s Ephermera danica
Lough Sheelin’s Ephermera danica

The insect life surpassed itself out on the lake, with our mayfly season still in evidence with the ‘greens’ visible, perched up like little green sailing boats on the water’s surface. The spent were still going out in good numbers particularly off Derrysheridan, Derry pt and Stoney and fish were coming up to feed on them – ‘taking one in every ten’ an Northern Ireland angler reported.

The sedges which had been holding back in previous weeks, exploded into life, where substantial quantities were visible particularly as the light dwindled towards darkness.

Caddis fly or sedge
Caddis fly or sedge

With a bewildering 900 varieties of the natural insect in Europe alone; world-wide almost 7000, sedges can vary from just a few millimetres to almost seven centimetres. The Welshman’s Button is one of the more easier recognisable ones and fishing an imitation of this charmingly named sedge proved to be very successful for two Wexford anglers during the evenings – David Hunter landing himself a 6 pounder and Brian Wentford a 5 ½ trout.  The Welshman’s Button or Button or sometimes called the Hazel-Fly can be a difficult fly to make because of his shape, which is nearly round and from where he derives his name.  His wings are made from the red feathers of a partridge’s tail, his body is peacocks herl and it’s a black hackle for the legs.  This sedge is normally around from the first week in June but the interesting thing about it is that he could only be around for two days as the slightest storm of thunder or lightning totally banishes him from the season.

welshman's button
Lough Sheelin’s Welshman’s Button sedge (Sericostoma personatum)

The Murrough is there in small numbers but as yet the fish are showing no real interest for this sedge as this usually takes off here at the end of this month and although there were a few successes using this imitation it is still a little early.

The mighty Murrough
The mighty Murrough

Hoppers worked well for some anglers and fished on a slick these can be brilliant in their imitation of those terrestrial insects. The Balling buzzer late in the evening around Bog Bay was good and some tried their hand at the traditional dapping during the daytime.

Although caenis should be coming on board around now, this requires mirror calm with at most a pin head ripple, a soft South to South Westerly wind and certainly not some of the Northerly winds that we have been recently graced with.

The Catches

Aidan Rush, Northern Ireland bring his fish in
Aidan Rush, Northern Ireland bring his fish in

Each lake is unique and for Lough Sheelin, the challenging fishing so far this season is a marriage primarily of two things – certainly the weather, particularly the contrary winds but also the abundance and copious amounts of trout food available in the lower water columns of this lake and some would say that because of the mild winter many of the insects that would of died off didn’t so the sub surface larder is extra full compared to other seasons, this coupled with the fact that 85 – 90% of trout prefer to feed sub surface means that anglers are wrong footed straight away with trout that just simply are not hungry, leaving just plain luck playing a large part in catching a good fish. Trout are lazy feeders, they have to get more energy from their food than they expend in catching it or they will die and since trout have been around for some 400 million years they have the survival bit down to a pat.

Peter Neeson, Northern Ireland (guided by Mick Kelly)
Peter Neeson, Northern Ireland (guided by Mick Kelly)

We can speculate about the difficulties but what is fact is that Lough Sheelin contains an impressive number of beautiful wild trout, of all sizes and this piscorial evidence exhibits itself on a daily basis to those who fish these fickle and capricious waters.

Michael McNaughton, Northern Ireland with another twilight trout
Michael McNaughton, Northern Ireland with another twilight trout

For this week, visible trout movement was all more or less restricted to the evening time and after dark. There was plenty of pitching, head and tail rises, sub surface boils, sloppy takes, pulls out of flies and trout creating their own long distance releases as the line disappeared down to the reel.  Sheelin provided good angling sport and if a trout was caught it was extra special, the icing on the cake because these are wild animals and cleverer that we might give them credit for.

The heaviest fish for this week was a 6 ½ pounder caught by Michael Gilcrest, Cork fishing a slick out from Wilson’s pt.

Total number of trout recorded: 46

Cathal McNaughton, Antrim releasing his 3lb 3oz trout caught on a Spent Gnat at Wilsons pt.
Cathal McNaughton, Antrim releasing his 3lb 3oz trout caught on a Spent Gnat at Wilsons pt.

Selection of Catches

  • Ronan Clarke – 3 fish, heaviest at 3 ½ lbs on Spent Gnat patterns.
  • Cathal Rush, Northern Ireland – Tuesday June 13th, 8 trout, heaviest at 4 ½ lbs, caught on small Green Hoppers.
  • Aidan Rush fishing with Cathal Rush – Wednesday June 14th, 6 trout using wet Green Mayfly patterns.
  • Eamon Ross, Cavan – 2 trout at over 4lbs each on Spent Gnat patterns.
  • Michael Trent, Dublin – 10 trout for the week using Stimulators, Bobs Bits and Klinkhammers during the day and Royal Wulffs in the evenings, heaviest at 5lbs.
  • Ned Clinton, Cavan – 1 trout at 3 ½ lbs fishing Spent Gnat patterns.
  • Paul Sutherland, England – 2 trout, heaviest at 3 lbs using Wulffs and Gorgeous George patterns.
  • Brian Dunleavy, Dundalk – 3 trout heaviest at 3½ lbs using Golden Olive Bumbles and Hoppers.

 The Flies

Lough Erne Wulff which works well on Lough Sheelin
Lough Erne Wulff which works well on Lough Sheelin

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). Other patterns catching fish were the Dabblers (Claret, Green 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 and Bumbles (Golden and Cock Robin).

Stimulator – Kevin Sheridan

For the ordinary ‘day light sedges’ I am reliably informed that amber is a must for every sedge pattern and from some of the patterns I have seen, this colour dominants most of the body, certainly the lower half of this caddis imitation. Sedge flies are most commonly fished dry here, singly or in teams of two, positioned 4 to 6ft apart.  Whilst dry flies are normally fished static, sedge patterns such as the Murrough, Grey Flag, Sheelin, Melvin and small Brown Sedge are best retrieved with short pulls to represent the characteristic skittering motion of the natural sedge across the water’s surface.

welshman's button imitation
welshman’s button imitation
Daddy long legs – Kevin Sheridan

 New Bye law for Sheelin

The big news on the angling front from a legal point of view for Lough Sheelin was the enactment of Bye-law 949 which came into operation on June 14th 2017, this bye-law replaces the previous Bye-laws of 790 and 817 on this lake and it would be advisable that all anglers fishing Lough Sheelin should famliarise themselves with the new law for here.

Go fishing…

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.

House Rules

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.

All anglers are required to have a Fishery Permit to fish Lough Sheelin which must be purchased before going out on the lake.

 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.

Sunset on Sheelin
Sunset on Sheelin