Lough Sheelin Angling Report September 30th – October 6th 2019
By Brenda Montgomery, IFI
‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity’
As this year’s trout season falls on its back and with just a few days left before the close of play on October 12th, Lough Sheelin has consistently retained its reputation as being a fickle, unpredictable and an amazing stretch of water to fish. A beautiful aquatic enigma which constantly throws up conflicting reports among the angling fraternity who fish its water.
Work circumstances have disembodied me from this lake for much of this year so for the first time I feel unprepared for the close but to quote Geoffrey Chaucer ‘time and tide wait for no man’ (or woman!) the seasonal clock is turning and in evidence through falling leaves, morning mists, shortening days and a shoreline of mixed autumnal colours.
Poor weather conditions predominated this week with undesirable north easterly winds, heavy rains and a fleeting Lorenzo all of which seem to have brought the end of the fishing season abruptly in sight. The earlier part of this week was the most productive with trout coming to teams of wet flies – hopper patterns, green peters, stimulators and dabblers. Fishing was best in the afternoon and into early evening.
Persistent heavy rainfall increased water levels and lowered temperatures and on most days there was little surface evidence of fish being present, just the dark churned up waters spreading uninvitingly in front of the anglers but the piscatorial fantasies were there and when an artificial came into their line of vision it was usually met with a positive take. The fresh water and resulting high levels seemed to put the fish off initially although anglers reported plenty of followers and plucks, exciting stuff but yielding sparse returns. There are large numbers of smaller ½ to 1lb trout present in the lake particularly around Church Island and although somewhat more foolhardy and less wary than their senior counterparts they still could be tricky to catch. The smaller trout tend to follow the fly and grab in contrast to the see saw takes of the bigger fish which swung from gentle to territorially aggressive. The secret to landing the bigger fish was to let the fish take before the lift and to use a sink tip.
The weekend turned everything on its head here with two large competitions being hosted on this lake – the LSTPA rehabilitation and the Garda Cavan/Monaghan competitions attracting an increase of over 350 anglers on to Lough Sheelin’s waters. Lough Sheelin did not disappoint on either competition dates and some beautiful trout in excellent condition were caught with many more misses and follows. A large number of catches (many released) were recorded which hiked up and knocked askew the normal weekly angling records.
The LSTPA held their annual stream rehabilitation competition on Saturday October 5th and despite heavy rain this proved to be a very good fishing day. Attracting a record 230 anglers from all over Ireland and the UK this is the biggest one day fishing event in the country. The bar was set high at over 16” and 52 fish were weighed in with the top 15 tipping the scales at 4lbs and over. The winning fish was caught by Moate angler, Dylan Ennis with a beautiful 7lbs 8oz trout with Peter Crilly taking second with a 6lb 8oz weight. Plenty of competitors had trout around the 2lbs mark but most were released as their captors quite rightly figured that these weights would not feature in the final round up. Talking to anglers after this competition, a safe estimate would be that around 250 fish had been caught over 16 inches with 200 safely returned to the lake.
The annual Cavan/Monaghan Garda Divisional Fly Fishing Championship and Open competition was held on the lake on Sunday October 6th. This popular event attracted 98 anglers with some beautiful trout being recorded. Results were as follows:
Garda Section – 1st Phil Kavanagh, Dublin 3lbs 14ozs
2nd Andrew Kelly, Leixlip 3lbs 2ozs
Guest Section – 1st Tony Grehan 4lb 9ozs
2nd Danny O’Keefe 3lbs 13ozs
3rd James Fagan 3lb 12ozs
Late September and those last few days in October are all about wet fly fishing and there isn’t much room for the dry fly brigade. The old mantra of keeping it simple and keeping it traditional is the best and only way to go. The hopper patterns are working with a steady consistency and had a tendency to lure Sheelin’s hefty trout to the top. These insects are as old as 250 million years and have been around as long as our brown trout and even the pickiest of trout find it hard to resist the large meal of a realistic hopper presentation. Terrestrial insects and in particular the hoppers and Daddies don’t just chill out when they land on the water, they hate being there and will try to tumble and scramble to get away so with this in mind a light twitch of the imitation can trigger a strike from fish that might otherwise not hit. Black Hoppers with silver, Claret Hoppers and Silver Daddies are all working well now.
Trying hard not to think of the bingo nickname, Legs Eleven is doing particularly well. This is a brilliant little hopper patter which has been around for a good number of years and it’s safe to say is one of the most popular Hopper patterns – a Mick Kelly version is priceless. Legs Eleven as a top dropper brought good results for Dublin angler John McHugh landing him a 5 lb beauty.
The flies and lures that worked well over the past two weeks were the Claret Bumble (top dropper, good when there was a lot of cloud cover), Silver Invicta, Green Peter, Stimulators, Dabblers (Pearly, Silver, Green, Fiery and Peter Ross), Gorgeous George, Bibio, Claret Bling, Golden Olive Bumble, Silver Daddies, Muddled Daddies, Kate McLaren, Black Hoppers with red butts, , sedge patterns (size 12 in cinnamon colours), the Klinkhammer (size 16), Daddy Long Legs (Size 12), the Raymond, the Dunkeld, the Black Pennell (fished on a floating line or with a silver body and a slow retrieve), Muddlers (good wake flies) and Peters.
A good step up in a Silver Daddy on the point, a Claret Bling in the middle and a Stimulator as the top dropper. The Stimulator should be not too neat a tying, you want scruffy and that ‘used before’ look as the idea is to create a good wake to attract a cruising trout’s attention.
The Lures that attracted big trout were the Snakes (black body with a muddler grey head), Minkies and Humungus in black and silver.
Due to the inclement weather there were few opportunities for buzzer fishing.
There were a few trout caught on small dry flies when olives were hatching on the surface in sheltered bays and inlets.
The best areas for fishing were off Church Island, Merry Point, Wilson’s Point, Stony Island, Chambers and Holywell. Areas again were wind dependent.
With only a few days to go before we bid farewell to another season here there is still plenty of sport to be had on this lake but it is good to remember that the trout are already on their spawning journey, darkening in colour and gathering for their river run, some as early as within the next few weeks so a gentle release policy is highly recommended.
Now at the very back end of this season and particularly with the recent number of angling competitions I couldn’t help but think of this magical stretch of water when I read somewhere that ‘a diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure’ well, Lough Sheelin is Ireland’s angling diamond that has shone consistently regardless of all the pressure it has been under – environmental and angling.
Lorenzo was a difficult storm for the weather forecasters to predict, nonetheless it was given an orange status warning (which kept the anglers off the lake) and which prompted Dubliner Eugene Tannam to comment ‘I hear storm Lorenzo has passed. I did not know an orange warning meant that the storm would be the size of an orange’.
The McIntyre/Guider cup was held on Saturday September 28th attracting twenty eight anglers with Kells angler John Mulvanney securing the cup with a lovely 3lb 6oz trout caught using a Silver Dabbler, Tommy King was second with a 3lb 4oz fish just pushing Pat Gallagher into third place by an ounce.
Please remember anglers to abide by BYE-LAW 949 which strictly prohibits from June 14th 2017 onwards:
- The taking of any brown trout of less than 36 centimeters.
- 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.
Please remember All anglers are required to have a Fishery Permit to fish Lough Sheelin which must be purchased BEFORE going out on the lake.
A catch & release policy is actively encouraged on the lake at all times
Lough Sheelin Guiding Services
Telephone: 087 1245927
Telephone: +3368 5984369
Telephone: +353 43 6681298 or 087 4194156
Grey Duster Guiding
Telephone: 086 8984172
Telephone: 086 2490076
D.C Angling & Guiding Services
Telephone David on 087 3946989
The biggest fish over the past two weeks was Dylan Ennis’s trout of 7lbs 8ozs
Total number of trout recorded: 385
Selection of Catches
Ben McKay, Scotland – 6 trout heaviest at 4lbs using Stimulators and Hoppers.
John Mulvanney, Kells – 2 trout at 6 ½ and 4lbs using Black Hopper patterns and Silver Invictas.
Des Elliott, Dublin – 1 trout at 3lbs on a Bibio, fishing at Wilson’s point.
Cian Murtagh, Cavan – 1 trout at 3lbs 11ozs using a Peter Ross Dabbler fishing out from Merry Pt.
Larry McAlinden, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 4 ½ lbs using a Silver Dabbler.
Padraig Fahey – 1 trout at 4lbs 4ozs.
Albert Berry, Lisnaskea – 1 trout at 2lbs on wet flies.
Dara Murtagh, Cavan – 1 trout at 3lbs 1oz on a Silver Daddy fishing out from Church Island.
Francis McSherry – 1 trout at 4lb 6ozs on wets.
Aleksander Kowalczk, Dublin – 2 trout heaviest at 5lb and 6 ½ lbs using lures – snakes and minkies
Kristaps Ozolins, Dublin – 2 trout at 4 ½ and 6lbs using Minkies, fishing at the back of Church Island.
Edgars Jansons, Meath – 3 trout, heaviest at 6 ¾ lbs using Humungus and Minkies.
Pat Smith, Cavan – 2 trout heaviest at 3lbs using Bibios and Bumbles.
David O’Feele, Wexford – 2 trout at 3 and 3 ½ lbs using a Claret Bumble and Hoppers.