‘Nobody said that it would last forever, that doesn’t mean we didn’t try to get there’
Lewis Capaldi

Lawrence Hickey, Dublin with a beautiful 67cm trout
Lawrence Hickey, Dublin with a beautiful 67cm trout

Once we step into the month of October for Lough Sheelin it seems as if we are in the wrong place at the wrong time – intruders on a lake whose piscatorial inhabitants have moved on to another more important phase, the one of spawning. As the curtain gradually came down on the fishing season here it felt as if winter was already knocking on the door in the form of very high water levels, falling leaves and chilly breezes.

The last day on Sheelin for 2019
The last day on Sheelin for 2019

There are always anglers who fish the final few days of the season on Sheelin, wringing out that last bit of enjoyment while privately, I imagine, clinging on to the possibility of catching a fantasy weight.  Some lovely trout were caught, particularly in the earlier part of the week but the continuing high water levels and cold temperatures meant that the vast majority of these fish were caught on lures using di 3 and di 5 sinking lines.

Winter levels for Lough Sheelin, October 8th
Winter levels for Lough Sheelin, October 8th

The present flooded levels of Sheelin reminds me of the reply an angler gave to me recently when I asked him where he had caught his lovely 4lb trout – ‘sure, in the field’ and I knew exactly what he meant.

Dominic Concannon, Northern Ireland with his end of season Sheelin trout
Dominic Concannon, Northern Ireland with his end of season Sheelin trout

The Catches

Anglers reported encouraging numbers of small 8” to 1lb trout particularly from Derry Pt. to Long Rock. Some trout were boiling just below the flies but then appeared to lose interest.  There was some pitching but mostly there was little or no evidence of trout movement, certainly not in the surface layers.

A good days fishing – Lawrence McAlinden fishing with his Dad Larry
A good days fishing – Lawrence McAlinden fishing with his Dad Larry

The biggest fish for this week was a beautiful 67cm trout caught by Sheelin Guide Gary McKiernan using a Green & Silver Dabbler.  Total number of trout recorded: 29

Selection of Catches            

  • Paul McMenamin, Northern Ireland – 5 trout, best 3 ½ lbs fishing off Watty’s Rock using Dabblers.
  • Thomas Lynch, Cavan fishing with Denis Moss – October 9th 2 trout heaviest at 5lbs.
  • Dara & Cian Murtagh, Cavan – 2 fish at 2 and 1 ½ lbs, October 11th.
  • James Kelly, Donegal – 1 trout at 50cm using Dabbler patterns.
  • Michael Brady, Donegal – 3 trout heaviest at 5lbs using lures fishing mid lake.

The best areas for fishing (wind dependent) were primarily Merry Pt., Stony, the Long Rock, and Derry Pt. down along Derrahorn, Gaffney’s Bay and behind Church Island.

The Flies

The influx of cold fresh water meant that many fish were staying put in the lower depths so it was the lures that worked best on lines that got them down deep. The most popular were the Humungus, Minkies and the Snakes.

cut throat silver dabbler
Cut throat silver dabbler

On a lake that unofficially prides itself as being a fly angling Mecca I always hesitate when talking about lures as I can almost sense the disapproval coming from the fly casting purists but lures have their place too and this week it was all about the Snakes which worked particularly well – Black & Grey (with a Muddler style head), White & Green and Green & Black fished on a Di5.  Snakes are not new by any means and have taken the still-water fly fishing scene by storm over the last 2 or 3 years with the help of the internet.  These are highly mobile patterns and can often induce lethargic fish into a response even if they are not feeding naturally, a medium paced figure of 8 with a long pull halfway through retrieve got impressive results here, with Lithuanian angling friends Darius Admomaihes and Jokubas Banis landing 10 trout for the week averaging 4 to 6lbs.  Lures like the snakes and cat’s whiskers can be a quick fix to a traditional fly angler when the going gets tough meteorologically.

dry sedge pattern
Dry sedge pattern

Back to safer ground, the flies that worked for over these past few days were the Silver Daddies, the Dabblers (Fiery Brown, Claret, Green, Pearly Green (size 8 & 10) Gold and Silver), Golden Olive Bumbles, the Silver Invictas, Black Pennels, Bibios and the Octopus. The traditionals with hopper legs added in were particularly good and a silver, green or gold glint through the tying seemed to be the essential ingredient.


Last words…

The 2019 fishing season is now closed on Lough Sheelin (for all fishing) until March 1st 2020.

The fishing has been undeniably tough because of measures outside our control, mainly the weather but true anglers general accept the ups and down and thankfully the magnetism of Lough Sheelin whatever the obstacles seems to remain embedded in the hearts of those hundreds of anglers who return year after year to fish this mercurial jewel.  As one Cork angler put it ‘tell me a better lake than Sheelin’ and I can’t.

Lough Sheelin will be waiting for its anglers next year –

Venisti remanebis donec denuo completus sis.
(From whence you came, you shall remain until you are complete again)

Go Fishing… (next year)

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.

Lough Sheelin  'Until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world lies hushed'
Lough Sheelin  ‘Until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world lies hushed’