‘Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again…
Within the sound of silence’
Paul Simon

Sunset on Sheelin
Sunset on Sheelin

Now defined as being in an absolute drought, Lough Sheelin for this week baked under a blue cloud free sky and blistering sunshine. ‘Why travel abroad when you can burn at home’ was the satirical play for us to holiday within Ireland.

Giovanni Marenghi, London with his 44cm ‘heat wave’ trout
Giovanni Marenghi, London with his 44cm ‘heat wave’ trout

While this summer has been a great one for getting a suntan it is not good for fishing or fish. Of all the habitat conditions which affect trout, water temperature is perhaps the most critical for growth and survival.  Knowledge of water temperature is also critical for success in angling.  Fish movement, feeding and activity levels are all governed by water temperature.  Trout are what biologists call ectotherms or cold blooded to you and I.   They cannot maintain their body temperature at a constant temperature as we, and other warm blooded animals can.  The temperature of their surroundings – water, governs their body temperature which in turn controls their level of activity.  In 1930 WJM Menzies, an Inspector of Salmon Fisheries in Scotland wrote about the importance of water temperature – ‘Temperature plays an important part in encouraging trout to feed or limiting their opportunities of so doing’.

 ‘Resting up’
‘Resting up’

This summer has been a tough one for our trout. The water levels are dropping and the temperatures in the upper layers are steadily rising chasing the trout down to the lower colder more oxygenated layers of the lake.  Lee Wulff, the angler who invented one of Lough Sheelin’s most successful flies – the Royal Wulff believed that the ideal temperature for trout was 17 degrees Celsius, while another renowned angler Norman Maclean reckoned that when temperatures go above 20 degrees ‘one would be better playing a round of golf than go fishing’.  The top water column of Lough Sheelin checked in at 24 degrees for this week.

Lough Sheelin’s Emperor moth
Lough Sheelin’s Emperor moth

Regardless of the far from ideal fishing weather Lough Sheelin always has something to offer its anglers. Both during the day and at night time this lake was alive with a plethora of potential trout food.  A good knowledge of insect life is important to an angler and for this week with no day time trout rises this afforded a great opportunity to examine the phenomenal array of insects on offer.  I’m told summer time is about hoppers, hoppers and more hoppers and a hopper pattern fished on a slick could be brilliant in cooler temperatures.  The office hours were all about the terrestrials, those non aquatic accidents that end up unintentionally on the surface and which might under colder circumstances attract a cruising trout.  The Emperor moth and Sheelin’s green tortoise beetle have to be the two favourites.  The patterned eyes on the wings of this very beautiful moth are effectively in position to scare off enemies while the shell of the beetle resembles a green war helmet.  Both of these could however be on the menu for surfacing trout.

Green Tortoise Beetle
Green Tortoise Beetle

Angling successes for this week were few and far between. Mornings and afternoons were hopeless with Lough Sheelin stretching out like the dead sea in front of its anglers on most days.  There were no surface rises of any fish.


A Welshman’s Button
A Welshman’s Button

There were phenomenal evening hatches of sedges – peters, murroughs, cinnamon sedges, Welshman’s buttons and a variety of small browns but despite these temptations the trout showed no interest and refused to surface.

Lough Sheelin’s Peter
Lough Sheelin’s Peter

Thursday and Friday saw a change in that the trout that we thought had fallen through a hole in the earth reappeared and there was huge surfacing of trout particularly in Corru Bay. This sudden appearance of feeding trout coincided with spectacular hatches of caenis .

Sheelin’s caenis
Sheelin’s caenis

Over the previous year’s Lough Sheelin has shown a decline in these, our smallest up winged mayflies but this year and this week certainly has bucked that trend when anglers were covered in vast numbers of these insects and the trout were feeding exclusively on them.

Caenis isn’t called the Angler’s Curse for nothing, they are tricky to tie, tricky to tie on, tricky to see on the water and tricky to catch fish on.  Caenis fishing demands exclusively late evening and more so early mornings with mirror calm water with perhaps a slight corduroy ripple.

‘Having a break’
‘Having a break’

I discovered this week that catching trout on caenis is very hard work and this is because of several reasons.  The main difficulty is that they are so small requiring maybe a size 20 at the least and down to a size 28 at times.  The second obstacle is the sheer number of them that can hatch at once, looking like snowflakes and sticking to everything.  They become very abundant during hatches and literally thousands cover the water.  There were huge numbers of trout surfacing to sip on them in abandonment last Thursday evening (after 10pm) and they more or less ignored everything that we threw at them.  With so many of these naturals covering the surface, it was pot luck as to whether the trout would ever find an artificial among the real ones sitting upon the surface film, so the chances were very slim of hooking up (which most of us didn’t).  Casting at feeding fish and landing the fly near their nose could be the best tactic to adopt, as the chances of them mopping up yours when it’s fished static aren’t high.  The next challenge I’m told, although very few of us got to this stage, was the landing of the trout. As they’re so tiny, the hooks can straighten on larger fish which could be a problem with Sheelin’s heavy weights. The best flies to use were grey dusters, Dave McPhail’s simple CDC caenis or a tiny F-Fly.

Fry feeding time on Sheelin - the favoured spots for fry bashing are in the shallows particularly around Orangefield, Plunketts Pt., along Derrysheridan and into Goreport Bay.
Fry feeding time on Sheelin – the favoured spots for fry bashing are in the shallows particularly around Orangefield, Plunketts Pt., along Derrysheridan and into Goreport Bay.


Everything this week was an after dark or twilight affair with the exception of Dublin angler Lawrence Hickey with his 50cm trout. A small number of trout were caught for the week, keeping the Sheelin angling flag flying but all of these were landed at the edge of darkness,  sunset or sunrise. 

Lawrence Hickey, Dublin with his Sheelin trout
Lawrence Hickey, Dublin with his Sheelin trout

There were substantial hatches of caenis particularly in Corru Bay and at the back of Church Island.

Best places for sedge fishing were Stony Island, Gaffney’s Bay, Ross Bay, Rusheen and the bottom of Goreport and Bog Bay.

The biggest fish for the week was Robert Morgan’s 4 pounder caught using a Grey Duster at the back of Church Island. Santry angler Robert Morgan also landed himself a 4 pounder using a Grey Duster in a size 20 for this week.

Total number of trout recorded: 12

Selection of Catches

  • Charles Henri, France fishing with Lough Sheelin Guiding – 2 trout at 51 and 47cm on wet fly patterns.
  • David Brady, Cavan – 1 trout at 3lbs on a CDC caenis pattern using flurocarbon in Corru Bay, July 5th.
  • Tom Hennessy, Dublin – 1 trout at 3 lbs on a Murrough pattern fishing at Stony.
  • Jim Dunleavy, Dundalk – 1 trout at 3 ½ lbs on a Silver Dabbler using an intermediate line

To improve the fishing on this lake we need a drop in water temperature and good cloud cover but because Met Eireann is forecasting another week of hot weather anglers who want to fish this lake need to stick to the evenings, nights and very early mornings. Fishing at these times and particularly at night can be an altogether foreign experience to the uninitiated.  The nightscape on this lake can seem like an alien world compared to its daytime counterpart so a suggestion would be to book yourself in with one of the many Sheelin guides and get a different perspective of fishing on this water jewel of a premier brown trout fishery.


Fishing was poor on the lake for this week but for those takes and hook ups the flies that worked were the caenis patterns the Grey Duster (size 18 -22), McPhails CDC caenis pattern, the F-Fly, Murrough patterns, Klinkhammers (good for pupa imitation using a ghost tip for that very necessary deeper fishing), a small brown sedge (12-14), Balling Buzzers and the Silver Dabbler.

There are big stands of weed in the lake at the moment – Canadian Pondweed and Potamogeton are in situ both along the margins, in bays and further out around Corru and Inchacup. these food rich havens offer the wild trout a year round food source in the shape of freshwater shrimp, hog louse as well as a copious amounts of corixa or lesser water boatman.

Bloodworm, Buzzer and fresh water shrimp There is very little evidence of the bloodworm on Sheelin as yet, this one was found in Bog Bay but it was only the only one
Bloodworm, Buzzer and fresh water shrimp
There is very little evidence of the bloodworm on Sheelin as yet, this one was found in Bog Bay but it was only the only one

Damsel nymphs and cased caddis also inhabit these dense weed beds and eventually hatch out into adult damsel and sedge flies which hover and flutter above the beds on hot summer days or the preferred cool of the evenings in the case of sedges. Black needle or Grouse Wing and the Great Red sedges can by imitated effectively by the angler in the dying light of the day.

Welshman's Button
Welshman’s Button
Sheelin murrough
Sheelin murrough

Youth Angling day

The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association will be hosting a Youth angling day on Saturday July 28th. This day offers an exciting opportunity to our younger anglers.  The day includes a fly tying demonstration, 2 ½ hours on the lake with an experienced boatman, a Bar B Q and photo call as well as lots of prizes and further information on training programmes.

For further details contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033 .


The McDonnell cup will be held on Saturday August 11th on Lough Sheelin, fishing from 11am till 6pm from Kilnahard pier… This competition has been fished catch & release for the last five years, which proved to be very successful. Measures will be provided for all boats with the cup awarded to the longest fish. This competition is open to members of the club only but membership is available on the day

There will be lots of prizes on offer and this day is generally viewed as a great day out.

For further details contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033.

Go Fishing…

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.

Catch and release

catch and release

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

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


Getting it right – Caoimhe & Oisin Sheridan
Young anglers Caoimhe & Oisin Sheridan enjoying a day out on Lough Sheelin

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.

Sunbathing at Lough Sheelin - Ephemera danica
Sunbathing at Lough Sheelin – Ephemera danica