‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference’
Reinhold Niebuhr

Rusheen Bay Lough Sheelin, September 18th 2019
Rusheen Bay Lough Sheelin, September 18th 2019

This report covers two weeks fishing on this lake due to a patience sapping IT problem here but at least because of this we do get to see the two faces of Sheelin meteorologically speaking. On the one hand the weather swung from an Indian summer heat reaching into the late teens only to be followed by a week of torrential rains and chilling winds.  The autumn equinox fell on September 23rd this year officially marking the beginning of autumn, not that we need a date to remind us, with the leaves starting to turn into a rainbow of colours and well, something in the air is just different.  There is a certain chill, a smell of decay that is neither unpleasant nor unwelcome.

Christopher Defillon with his French visitor who landed this impressive autumn trout
Christopher Defillon with his French visitor who landed this impressive autumn trout

The Hatches

Autumn offers a series of distinct challenges to the trout angler that are specific to the season. Although there are buzzer hatches in sheltered areas and bays on the warmer days, in general fly hatches have tapered off and on most days’ non-existent.  Our key indicators of surface fly activity , the swallows, who were very much in evidence just a few days ago with their swopping and skimming along the  surface water have disappeared, apparently vanishing with a wave of that migrational wand. With the recent heavy rainfall, water levels have risen substantially, temperatures have dropped and sun angles have shifted, all of which present the angler with a different puzzle than the previous months.

The Catches

A perfect example of the wrong time for the battery of a mobile phone to die… Michael Farrell with his officially weighed in 8lb 3oz trout
A perfect example of the wrong time for the battery of a mobile phone to die…
Michael Farrell with his officially weighed in 8lb 3oz trout

Good sized trout were caught over the past two weeks but Sheelin is never an angling push over and the fishing was consistently onerous and demanding on all those who ventured out. The Indian summer week with mirror calm conditions and bright sunshine resulted in few anglers fishing this lake but as the weather changed to more seasonal conditions, numbers increased and as a result so did the catches.  The end of the season here is very similar to the beginning of the season in that the lures and big flies seem to have the biggest success rate with the lures having the edge particularly the patterns with silver threaded through.

Christopher Defillon on Lough Sheelin
Christopher Defillon on Lough Sheelin

Some days saw plenty of pitching of trout with mid lake being the preferred area for this acrobatical display.  The most productive fishing times appeared to be the evening time from 5pm onwards till dusk.  Sheelin provides a constant contradiction as some anglers reported seeing plenty of movement of trout while others appeared baffled and frustrated by their failure to see anything at all that resembled a fish.  Whether visible or not, the trout are there and are on their pre spawning move, gathering at certain preferred areas (year upon year) within this lake, the trick of course is to know where these spots are.  Some of these are magnificent leviathan’s would easily tip the scales at over 10lbs – Andrew McFarlane’s fish confirmed the presence of the heavy weights when he landed an impressive 12lbs 5ozs trout.  But big trout don’t become big by being careless so it’s tough going trying to trigger a response from these fish who are wary and at the peak of their aggression.

Andrew McFarlane, Finea resting up with the weight of the week a 12lb 5oz specimen
Catch of the Week winner Andrew McFarlane, Finea resting up with the weight of the week from Sheelin, a 12lb 5oz specimen

The biggest fish over the past two weeks was a beautiful 12lb 5oz trout caught by local angler Andrew McFarlane. Andrew wins our Catch of the Week for this beautiful trout.  Total number of trout recorded: 41

Selection of Catches

  • Ray Dalton, Tullamore – 2 trout at 4lbs each, caught on Silver Invictas fishing between Lynch’s point and Church Island.
  • Sean Guider, Cavan – 1 trout at 4lbs caught on a Green Peter, September 15th.
  • Pat Browne – 6 trout to the net, heaviest at 6lbs, all caught on Olive patterns.
  • Donnacha Foley – September 19th trolling on small mepps, 1 trout at 6lbs and 2 at 1½ and 2lbs.
  • Rory McAvinney – just before his departure to Canada for two years, 1 trout at 3lbs 8ozs on a Green Peter.
  • Ned Clinton, Cavan – 1 trout at 1.78lbs caught on a Fiery Dabbler.
  • Jonathan Murray, Northern Ireland – 1 trout at 6lbs 9ozs.
  • Stuart Topp, Orkney Islands – 2 trout at 56 and 52cm caught on Claret Dabblers.
  • Mike Sutherland, Scotland – 1 trout at 43cm.
  • Pat Sweeney – 1 trout at 4 ½ lbs on a Green Stimulator
  • Oliver McCormack – 2 trout, heaviest at 4lbs using a Kate McClaren Bumble and a Chocolate Drop.

The areas of the lake which fished best (weather dependent) where mid lake, the back of Church Island, the Long Rock, Merry pt., Stony and from Derrahorn down along the western shoreline.

Some lakes close their doors on their trout fishing season on the last day of September but Lough Sheelin’s D day is October 12th so because of this angling numbers generally increase on this lake during the run down to that date.  I don’t know how many anglers that have said to me “I just want to catch a big trout” and everyone knows full well that this is the lake where this dream could become a reality but unless you are very lucky and stumble into a fish which would be mind-blowing, anglers must put in the leg work and either get a guide or put in the time to get to know this highly fickle but very beautiful stretch of water.

The undisputable beauty of Lough Sheelin (pic Colin Shanley) September 18th
The undisputable beauty of Lough Sheelin (pic Colin Shanley) September 18th

It is also good to remember that this is the time of the season when the trout are approaching their spawning phase so it is very worthwhile to release them carefully back into their watery environs before of course immortalizing their beauty and splendor in a photograph.

Torrential rain providing a sharp contrast to the previous good weather
Torrential rain providing a sharp contrast to the previous good weather

The Flies

The lures like the Humungus and Minkies worked well but so did the traditional wet fly patterns particularly the Dabblers – Fiery Brown, Silver and Claret.

The best advice to give to any angler is to keep it simple and keep it traditional, use the flies and teams that have worked for generations and you can’t go far wrong. The Silver Invicta, Black Pennel, Sooty Olives, Dabblers, Bibios and Stimulators all work well if the team is worked and presented well.  The Daddies and Hopper patterns were particularly good with all sorts of the old familiars being tied up with ‘hopper legs’.  The Hoppers worked particularly well for the evening shift and Scottish angler Ben McKay reported some excellent takes between 5 and 7pm last Wednesday.

Daddy Long Legs
Daddy Long Legs – difficult for an autumn trout to resist

The Royal Cup was held on Saturday September 21st with 23 anglers taking part and 7 fish weighed in.  This is a lovely relaxed competition run by local angler Pat Bannon and for this year was won by Baileborough angler Niall Burns with a 2.28lb trout beating his father Pat into second place (Pat had a fish of 2.08lbs) Tommy Curran came in third with a 2.02 pounder.  Trout were caught on Peters, Silver Invictas, Fiery Brown Dabblers and Bumble patterns.

This is the time of the year where trout seem to respond better to movement and colour so the Dabbler flies in claret, olive, ginger, green, pearly and silver are a safe bet.

Another Daddy pattern
Another Daddy pattern

The flies that got results were the Dabblers, sedge patterns (size 12 in cinnamon colours), the Silver Invicta, the Klinkhammer (size 16), Daddy Long Legs (Size 12), the Claret Bumble (top dropper with an overcast sky), Gold Olive Bumble, Kate McClaren Bumble, the Black Pennell (fished on a floating line or with a silver body and a slow retrieve), Muddlers (good wake flies), Hoppers and Peters. The two flies that are top of the league are The Stimulator (particularly one tied by Mick Kelly) and The Dabblers. Minkies and Humungus seem to be back on the menu for the final weeks (apologies to the purists out there).

Anglers are having no problem moving fish but many stumble at the final post i.e. to actually get the fish to take the fly. There are two reasons why trout change their minds at the last minute when it comes to a fly, either the pattern is just not close enough to the shape of the real thing or else they have seen the line and have become spooked.  This week intermediate lines had the edge on the floating ones and going down that bit deeper proved a more successful ploy.

daddy fly
Foam daddy

Upcoming events

 The McIntyre/Guider Cup – This open fly fishing competition will be hosted by the Butlersbridge Angling Club on Saturday September 28th at Kilnahard, 11.0am to 6pm, entry fee €20, all welcome. For further information please contact Dessie McEntee @ 086 8937568.

The Cavan/Monaghan Garda Divisional Fly Fishing Championship and Open Competition will be held at Lough Sheelin on Sunday October 6th 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 Dessie McEntee @ 086 8937568, Pat Foley @ 087 2405313 or Colin Dodd @ 086 6000630.

The LSTPA Stream Rehabilitation Competition will be held on Saturday October 5th (details later)

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.


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…

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services
087 1245927

 Christopher Defillon
[email protected]

Michael Farrell
087 4194156
Telephone: +353 43 6681298
Email: [email protected]

Grey Duster Guiding
Kenneth O’Keeffe
086 8984172 Email: [email protected]

John Mulvany
[email protected]
086 2490076

D.C Angling & Guiding Services
– contact David @ 087 3946989

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.

‘Resting up’ Rusheen, Lough Sheelin
‘Resting up’ Rusheen, Lough Sheelin