‘The end of something must be accepted to get a new beginning’

Sindhuja rajan

Lough Sheelin
Dominic Murphy, Tallagh with the weight of the week, a beautiful 68cm, 8lb trout

The last five days of the 2018 fishing season on Lough Sheelin was a turbulent mix of battling erratic weather and hooking confrontational trout. It was a grand finale, where, for many anglers the best wine was left to last with great catches of trout averaging 3 to 4lbs with our top weight hitting in at a confident 8lbs.

Lough Sheelin
Andrew Brown’s ‘end of season’ trout at 59cm

The shadows fall sharply between the pine trees of Sheelin’s Mullaghmeen forest at this time of the year, laneways and edges of roads are disappearing under a covering of browns, golds and yellows and there is a definite scent in the air, the smell of rot, decomposition, not altogether unpleasant, merely noticeable.

Larry McAlinden, Newry battling storm Callum with good catches of 3, 4 and 5lb fish, all released
Larry McAlinden, Newry battling storm Callum with good catches of 3, 4 and 5lb fish, all released

Winter is fast approaching and Storm Callum slammed the door on Lough Sheelin’s 2018 fishing season last Friday, October 12th.  Winds of up to 76mph churned up the water and conditions were difficult and limiting for that last minute angler.  Most anglers were forced into sheltered bays and inlets but despite the challenging meteorological environs a percentage of anglers did brave the elements and good fish were caught until the evening light faded and it was time to call a halt to it all.

Lawrence Hickey, Dublin with a 54cm trout
Lawrence Hickey, Dublin with a 54cm trout

Tuesday and Wednesday were the pick of the fishing days when, after the autumn chills had dissipated, a summer type heat enveloped this lake and fishing was good. The trout are already pressing towards the rivers to spawn and although still feeding they are more combative and have an inclination to swat at anything that might come into their migratory path.

Larry McAlinden on Sheelin’s last fishing day of 2018

The heaviest trout for the week was an 8 pounder caught by Tallagh angler Dominic Murphy.

Total number of trout recorded: 55

Selection of Catches

  • Lawrence Hickey, Dublin – fishing with Lough Sheelin Guiding 3 trout at 48, 54 and 57cm.
  • Alan Molloy, Dublin – 1 trout at 47cm.
  • Gary McKiernan of Lough Sheelin Guiding – 8 trout for the week, heaviest weighing in at 5lbs 7ozs and 6lbs 10ozs.
  • Andrew Brown, Dublin – 1 trout at 59cm on a Golden Olive Bumble.
  • Cian Murtagh, Cavan fishing with Vincent Kelly – 6 trout all around the 3lb mark fishing off Merry pt.
  • Larry McAlinden, Northern Ireland – 7 trout averaging 3 to 5lbs fishing wets.
  • Ben McKay, Scotland – 2 trout heaviest at 3lbs on Claret Dabblers.
  • Mark Dulow, Scotland – 3 trout heaviest at 4lbs on Red Tailed Peters with hopper legs.
  • Tosh Kellet, Kells – 1 trout at 3lbs using Red Sedges.
  • Brian Dunleavy, Dundalk – 2 trout heaviest at 3 ½ lbs using a Kate McClaren.
  • David Kelly, Dublin – 5 trout for the week using Dabblers and Cock Robins.
  • Aleksander Kowalski, Dublin – 2 trout at 4 ½ and 6lbs caught on lures mid lake
  • Radley Zielinski, Dublin – 5 trout heaviest at 6 ½ using Streamers fishing around the Finea end of the lake.

Lough Sheelin’s hard fighting browns are those fish that have seldom moved from the deeper feeding aquatic larders, these are bigger trout, those trophy fish that every angler dreams about.  These fish along with their lighter counterparts are beginning a spawning journey so although on the move and still feeding and therefore suspectable to an artificial, they are also wary after a season of heavy boat traffic and perhaps the odd hit and miss with a hook and so are not easily fooled.

Peter Gleeson with his beautiful 5.1 lb trout
Peter Gleeson with his beautiful 5.1 lb trout

Flies that worked well for this week were the Silver Daddies, the Dabblers (Fiery Brown, Claret, Green, Gold and Silver), the Golden Olive Bumbles, the Silver Invictas, Black Pennels, Red Tailed Peters, variants on traditional patterns with Hopper legs attached, Gorgeous George, the Octopus, Kate McClaren, Red Sedges and Bibios. The silver, green or gold glint through the tying was still the essential ingredient.  Good trout were caught using lures – Humungus, Minkies and Streamers on sinking lines.  In general, however, it was still the floating lines that worked best.  There were some successes dapping Daddies and Hoppers in the waves but predominantly it was all about those teams of wets and working the flies according to wind strengthens and directions.

The best area for fishing (wind dependent) was primarily Merry Pt., Stony, the Long Rock, Derry Pt. and down along Derrahorn.

There is no place for the trout hunter at this time of the year, that train has left the station and they must now step aside to allow this, most beautiful of all wild fish – the Lough Sheelin brown to negotiate their way up the rivers within this catchment to start the future for seasons to come on this lake.

Lough Sheelin however will be waiting for its anglers next year – venisti remanebis donec denuo completes sis.

Catch and release is becoming increasingly popular among conservation-minded trouters eager to ensure a future full of fish and fishing. However, it is crucial to handle fish carefully if they are to survive after release.  That means bringing them in quickly rather than prolonging the fight, not squeezing them too hard or holding them by the gills and not keeping them out of the water too long.  The ‘how long you should keep them out of water bit’ was I thought addressed very well in a recent article on the subject which stated ‘ imagine your own head held underwater against your will and you’ll get a pretty good idea how long is too long to keep a fish out of water’.

Dapping on Sheelin

Recently I was sent a very lovely poem by Sheelin angler, Vincent Kelly, written by his uncle Fr. Martin Kelly, a priest in Belfast about dapping in Sheelin which I felt needed to be shared with all those who have the same gra for this lake as I have.

Dapping on Sheelin

Dumpling clouds crowd a bright sky,

leaves buckle on bouncing branches

in a fresh westerly from Strangford.

I’m back again

on Sheelin during the mayfly

dapping with a blow line, curved taut,

keeping the green flies on the jumpy water,

Charlie Baker, leaning on the straightening oar,

alert for the flash and grab of a six pounder.

Ciaran Mac crouched ready.


Terns on the surface,

skirt into the wind,

picking off hatchers

finding their wings.


‘If a fish takes

will I give him time?’

‘Lower the rod,

shout, ‘Up the Republic’

and strike’.



Rod bent in two.

‘It’s a seven pounder!’.

The dash, dive and leap,

red and amber glimpses, silver glint

in the racing, bending, twisting waves,

a desperate, fierce , adrenalined,

surface-slashing struggle,

mouth open, jerking.


Then, under the boat.


‘He’s gone’.


The line lies lifeless

on the gloating water.

I sit limp.


In silence

Charlie Baker starts the engine.


Boat resting
Boat resting

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
catch and release
the magic of a Lough Sheelin trout #CPRsavesfish

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
Lough Sheelin
‘Till the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hush’


Tight lines for 2019