‘The trout lives, as it were, in a room with a ceiling made of mirrors except for a round skylight in the middle (the window), through which the outside world is visible’

Frost and Brown (1967)

Lough Sheelin September 2018
Lough Sheelin September 2018

 The last of summer was swept away by Storm Ali which churned up Lough Sheelin with its unrelenting gusts peaking to a destructive 130km/hr. As the evenings noticeably draw in and a significant chill edges the daylight hours, mixed with wintery showers, the end of the season seems suddenly eminent, as if it crept up on us. Except for our stormy Wednesday angling numbers remained in the double figures on most days with good catches of trout being reported, all reports, however, being echoed continually with the words ‘but they were hard got’.

Peter Gleason, Nenagh
Peter Gleason, Nenagh

The trout consistently played cat and mouse with the anglers, coming up to the fly and then turning away at the very last moment.  The trout were slashing and splashing, porpoising and pirouetting, running and following the pro offered artificials but for all this active piscatorial bravado the Sheelin fish seldom actually latched on to the fly and most times just fell short of a take, returning to their watery world with a mocking flip of a spotted tail.


Stuart Topp, Orkney with his 59cm Sheelin beauty caught on a small Claret Dabbler (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com)
Stuart Topp, Orkney with his 59cm Sheelin beauty caught on a small Claret Dabbler

A kick in a south to south westerly wind and good cloud cover were the essential ingredients to catching fish. Change of wind direction to north or east instantly turned the fish off. Cloud cover had to be dense as weak clouds which allowed sunlight to escape on to the water sent the trout for cover. Also I’m reliably told large patches of blue aren’t conducive to good fishing either and so it’s been another week of looking up in the air and across to shoreline bushes to try to figure out is it or isn’t it right to go out there to catch those elusive Sheelin trout.

The heaviest trout for the week was a 7 ½ lb trout caught by Dublin angler Pat Grey using a Claret Bibio fishing at Merry pt.

Total number of trout recorded: 59

David Connor, Ballinrobe
David Connor, Ballinrobe
 Selection of Catches            
  • Andrew Brown, Dublin fishing with Mary (Rory’s Tackle shop) – 3 trout heaviest at 4 ½ lbs using a Big Ollie and Green Peters
  • Jerry O’Brine, Nenagh – 2 trout heaviest at 3lbs on Dabblers.
  • Peter Gleason, Nenagh – 1 trout at 2 ½ lbs fishing Dabblers and Peters.
  • Noel Shields, Kells – 1 trout at 4.9lbs fishing wets.
  • Tommy Keane, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 4lbs on a Gorgeous George.
  • Frank Kelly, Cavan – 4 trout best at 5lbs using Claret Dabblers, Daddies and a Cock Robin.
  • John Mulvanney, Kells – 3 trout best at 3.8lbs using Claret Dabblers.
  • Albert Berry, Lisnaskea – 1 trout at 4.8lbs using Daddies and Dabblers.
  • Christy Cox, Multyfarnham – 4 trout heaviest at 6.25lbs fishing wets.
  • Seamus Gannon, Cavan – 1 trout at 3lbs fishing wets.
  • Eamon Ross, Cavan – 2 trout heaviest at over 3lbs fishing Dabblers.
  • Vincent Kelly, Cavan – 2 trout at 3lbs 4ozs and 1 ½ lbs caught on Claret Dabblers and Mike Kelly Stimulators.

Trout are still feeding heavily on Daphnia so a brightly coloured fly on the bob is a good plan and head out to the deeper water. Sheelin’s clarity has remained good but the high winds of last Wednesday has naturally had a discolouring and foaming effect which means brighter flies to combat the darker water colour.

Fergal McKiernan, Athlone with his hard got ‘pig’ of a Sheelin trout
Fergal McKiernan, Athlone with his hard got ‘pig’ of a Sheelin trout

Using a floating or glass line worked best for this week.

The most productive areas for fishing was mid lake, Stony, Merry pt. at the back of Church Island and from Derrahorn down along the Western shoreline.


There were noticeable hatches of sedges and olives along the shorelines but insufficient quantities to interest the trout.  There were large hatches of Apple Green Midge at the end of the week but these stuck to the edges of the lake so didn’t elicit much interest from the fish.


Anglers tend to fixate on what flies work and what ones don’t, the ‘so called’ successful patterns are surreptitiously passed from one fishing pal to another and those patterns who have come up trumps are guarded like the crown jewels.

trout flies
A selection of flies – Jackie Mahon

There are thousands of artificial flies out there – the traditional patterns, their variants and a bewildering plethora of new ones continually sprouting up, designed to elicit a ‘rise’ or ‘strike’ from a trout. A great deal of attention (and rightly so) has been paid to size, shape, colour and behavior but what also sticks in my mind are the words of a Sheelin angler (with a 40 year fishing career on this lake) who tells me on a regular basis  – that it is not so much as what you use on your line but how you work those flies.  This seems to be the holy grail to success on a very temperamental moody stretch of wild trout water.

Red Arsed Green Peter
Red Arsed Green Peter

When catching things the behavior of the object is crucial.  In sport, the flight of the ball can make it difficult to catch or hit.  Likewise for trout – movement of the fly is crucial.  The fly will be refused if it drags on the surface or is played in such a way that seems unnatural to the trout so they just go ‘no’ and wait for the next bite of food.  Getting the play right in the team seems to be just as important as to what makes up the team.

A Daddy and 2 Claret Hoppers
A Daddy and 2 Claret Hoppers

For this week the team players were still mostly wearing claret with tinsel threaded through.  The Dabblers featured very heavily, a small claret Dabbler on the point worked well as did Mick Kelly’s Stimulator. Pearly, Fiery Brown, Claret, Sooty Olive, Silver, Claret Sparkle and International (fished as a top dropper) Dabblers were the most popular.

Big Ollies, Red Tailed Peters, Daddies (Silver and in Brown), Claret Bibios, Claret Bumbles, Hoppers, Silver Invictas, Sedgehogs, Green Katie, Golden Olive Bumbles, Octopus, Gorgeous George, Black Pennel and variants with spindly legs did the business. Messy bushy flies with hopper legs and a chunk of colour (red or luminous green) at the back hit the mark on a number of occasions.  Jackie Mahon’s Bandit Dabbler seems particularly apt for the forthcoming Garda competition here on October 7th and is certainly worth a try as it fits the bill with its dabbler make up and claret colour.

Upcoming Competitions

The McIntyre/Guider Cup

The McIntyre/Guider Cup – Saturday September 29th, 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.

Stream Rehabilitation Competition

stream rehab competition

Click to download leaflet [pdf]

On Saturday October 6th Lough Sheelin’s angling club The Lough Sheelin Trout Protection Association will host their annual Stream Rehabilitation Competition starting at Kilnahard from 11am to 6.0pm.

All proceeds of this event go towards the enhancement and rehabilitation of the rivers within the Lough Sheelin catchment.

The club and organisers of this competition, now in its thirteenth year, welcome all anglers who wish to fish one of the best wild brown trout fisheries in Ireland and to experience first-hand the magic and allure of this lake which has the potential to produce the heaviest trout in the country.

Denis O’Keefe Memorial Cup

The LSTPA have added an additional cup on to their list this year, this cup is in honour memory of great angler and Sheelin advocate – Denis O’Keefe and will be awarded to the best member over the 3 senior competitions (Kilroy Cup (18/3/18), the McDonald Cup 9 11/8/18 & The River Enhancement Comp. 6/10/18).

For details please contact Thomas Lynch @ 087 9132033

Cavan/Monaghan Garda Divisional Fly Fishing Championship and Open Competition

The Cavan/Monaghan Garda Divisional Fly Fishing Championship and Open Competition will be held at Lough Sheelin on Sunday October 7th from Kilnahard Pier, 11a.m – 5.30p.m.

Weigh in at 6.30pm and meal at Pat Bannon’s Pub, Ballyjamesduff. Entry fee of €25 taken at Kilnahard.

This competition is for:  The Heaviest fish – visitors and The Heaviest fish – Cavan/Monaghan Division Garda Members.

For further details please contact  Colin Dodd 086 6000630Pat Foley 087 2405313 or Dessie McEntee on 086 8937568.

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

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

Catch and Release

Extra care is needed when playing and releasing trout during periods of high water temperatures as additional stress at these times will decrease the survival rate of hooked and released fish.

 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


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.

Lough Sheelin, September 2018
Lough Sheelin, September 2018