‘The Darkness Is Light Enough’

Chris Ferris

Lough Sheelin
Lough Sheelin

This week’s weather of heavy downpours, strong winds and bright skies made for restless fishing waters on Lough Sheelin. Now, on the very brink of autumn those tell-tale signs of this new season are already forcing themselves upon us in the form of dropping temperatures, shortening daylight and early morning cobwebs which sit like a myriad of small tents on shoreline gorse bushes. If it doesn’t sound too much like a contradiction in terms, fishing on this lake over the past seven days has been tough but good.  Heavy showers coloured the water and this coupled with gusty winds and rising water levels meant that surface fly life was poor and movement of fish was patchy but some nice trout were caught nonetheless.  Winds were mainly south to south westerly and with frequent changing directions and varying speeds this added another challenging dimension for the angler out on this lake.  Despite erratic conditions temperatures remained warm and when winds subsided and there was cloud cover some good sedge fishing happened.

Mark Lough, Scotland with a magnificent 63cm trout
Mark Lough, Scotland with a magnificent 63cm trout

Sedge fishing is often referred to as the cream of the crop as far as fly fishing and opportunities are concerned and with an impressive 200 plus species of sedge flies identified in Ireland there are plenty to keep the angler busy.  To avoid getting bogged down with our sedges there are really only 20 that are of major interest to the fly fishermen.  Sheelin has an encouraging number of sedges which is heartening from an ecological point of view.

Lough Sheelin’s Caperer
Lough Sheelin’s Caperer. The Caperer is one of the largest sedge flies found in Ireland. It is seen on the wing in the evenings from mid-August until the end of October

There were good numbers of Green Peter sedges here in July and early August, these sedges at this time were reported to be larger in size that in previous years with enthusastic takes from the trout. Now, there is a second hatch but much smaller in size.  Sedges are mostly nocturnal, the adult sedges hide in the vegetation during the hours of daylight and are hard to find but at dusk they appear so because of this sedge fishing is better in the evening, at dusk and for the best Peter fishing, through the hours of darkness.  Despite the lack of surface fly activity, anglers were reporting fish coming up at night to the peter artificials which were best fished with a slow figure of eight retrieve.  The quote of the week comes from the title of a book whose author maintained that continual use of eyesight at night resulted in near perfect nocturnal vision which has been confirmed by our after dark Sheelin anglers who report that there is no such thing as total darkness out on the lake and it is this belief  that makes for perfect sedge fishing particularly the nightime sedges of the Murrough and Peter.

Lough Sheelin’s Peter
Lough Sheelin’s Peter
Sedge pattern
Sedge pattern

A Dublin angler landed three fish using Leggy dark Sedges and Stimulators on Wednesday after 5pm. The Stimulators are a great ‘go to’ fly originally designed by the American Fly dresser Randall Kaufmann. They were tied and fished to represent many different aspects of the trout’s diet from hatching sedges to fry imitations. Another fly which has achieved results is a combination of a Chocolate Drop and a Murrough Sedge. The Chocolate Drop sedge, invented by Dennis Moss, in a size 10 has taken a lot of big brown trout and is great at this time of the year and to the end of the season. ‘It is a must have pattern and good end of season pattern on Lough Sheelin’ (“The Essential Guide to Irish Lough Fishing” by Dennis Moss).

The terrestrials come in all different forms – Lough Sheelin’s Dragon Fly
The terrestrials come in all different forms – Lough Sheelin’s Dragon Fly

The terrestrials are an important consideration at this time of the year – beetles, grass hoppers, daddies and ants. In late summer and autumn big fish can be tricked by artificial flies that are imitating terrestrial insects. Rain and wind usually have the effect of blowing these land based insects out on to the water and a trout would find it hard pressed to pass up this tempting meal, late morning and evening are best for these imitations.

hopper time
hopper time
Heather flies
Heather flies
Blown on to the water this beetle would make an  Irrestible meal for a cruising trout
Blown on to the water this beetle would make an
Irrestible meal for a cruising trout

A huge selection of terrestrial patterns isn’t important but maybe size is – lean to the bigger sizes for high water levels and discolouration to attract attention and smaller ones for clear shallower areas to avoid spooking the fish. We have had a lot of gusty and strong winds this week so stripping a team of Daddies through the water proved to be an effective method for some. A pause in the middle of stripping can trigger a good take from the pursing fish. Angler James Muldoon reported a nice 3 ½ lb trout taken on a dry Daddy on Monday last in Sailors Garden.

Dry Sedges
Dry sedges – A claret and a green Peter – (bob flies for sedge time)

This week was all about the sedges, terrestrials and teams of wet flies.

Looking up – a trout’s view of a terrestrial on the surface
Looking up – a trout’s view of a terrestrial on the surface

The bibio, with its strong silhouette and water-moving hackle was responsible for a number of catches. A large Dabbler in silver, green or pearly and traditional patterns with the hopper legs attached were the most successful.

Dominic Murphy, Dublin with a 60cm trout
Dominic Murphy, Dublin with a 60cm trout

Other flies that featured were the Green Peter, Small Brown Sedges (12-14 or smaller), Stimulators, Klinkhammers, Gorgeous George, Yellow Humpies, the Fiery Brown Sedge, the Chocolate Drop, Hoppers, Daddies, the Hare’s Ear Sedge, CDC Emergers, the Alexandra, the red-tailed Green Peter, the Sedge Invicta, the Pearly Invicta, the Mallard & Claret, G&H Sedge, Cock Robin, the Black Pennel, the Claret Pennel, , a variety of Bumbles and the Silver Invicta.

Lawrence Hicky, Dublin
Lawrence Hicky, Dublin

The best areas for fishing on the lake this week were Lynch’s pt. (good for Peter fishing) , Chambers Bay, mid lake, Ross Bay round to Derrahorn, Holywell, Bog Bay, Stony Islands and Merry pt.

The biggest fish for the week was a 6 pounder caught by Andrew Brown, Dublin on August 28th 

Total number of trout recorded: 24

Greg Muldowney, Dublin
Greg Muldowney, Dublin

Selection of Catches

  • Noel Cleary, Kells – 2 trout heaviest at 5lbs using a Bibio
  • Paddy Lyons, Cavan – 2 trout at 3 and 4lbs using Daddies and Claret Bumbles.
  • Mark Kavanagh, Dublin – 3 trout, heaviest at 3lbs on August 28th using Sedges and Stimulators.
  • Gene Brady, Cavan – 3 trout averaging 1 ½ – 2lbs fishing wets, August 29th.
  • Michael Farrell, Castlepollard – 2 fish at 3 & 4lbs using Peter patterns.
  • Gary McKiernan, Cavan – 2 trout, heaviest at 3lbs on August 27th using Green & Silver Dabblers.
Lough Sheelin’s weight of the week – a 6lb trout caught by Andrew Brown, Dublin, August 28th using a Green Peter.
Lough Sheelin’s weight of the week – a 6lb trout caught by Andrew Brown, Dublin, August 28th using a Green Peter.

Writing about Lough Sheelin’s fishing and collecting information from the anglers I couldn’t help but be reminded of a line from rock band R.E.M’s album ‘The Great Beyond’ – ‘I’m pushing an elephant up the stairs’ because it can be tough going from all sides. Those that are in the know repeatedly tell me that luck plays a huge part in whether you catch or whether you don’t, if a fish happens to be looking up or if your team is in the line of vision then you can strike a piscatorial gold.

Terrestrials in any shape or form make for an irrestible snack for a cruising trout.
Terrestrials in any shape or form make for an irresistible snack for a cruising trout.
Unreal (size 20) verses real – Terrestrial imitaion
Unreal (size 20) verses real – Terrestrial imitaion

Although, with the onset of autumn it feels as if the grim reaper is approaching this is actually one of the best times to fish Lough Sheelin.  This lake has an impressive reputation for carrying trout of substantial weights and in the run up to the close of season it is these fish that will be on the move so the challenge is put up to those anglers to prepare themselves for the finality of the season by trying to work out where these trout are likely to be, to stay in tune with them and to try to suppress that personal ambition of actually catching a weight of a lifetime.  Angler Ronan Creane provided food for thought when he commented in one of his articles that ‘ fishing for really big trout is more about the fish than the fishing, while fishing for average sized or smaller trout is more about the fishing than the fish’.

Christopher Defillon with a Sheelin classic
Christopher Defillon with a Sheelin classic

The official Irish record for the heaviest trout caught in a lake goes back to 1894 when William Mears took a 26lbs 2oz leviathan from Lough Ennell so it is about time that this was beaten and Lough Sheelin with its ample feeding grounds and lumps of trout should be able to do that – no pressure!!

‘Hitching a ride’
‘Hitching a ride’
Drew Black, Belfast with his 59cm trout
Drew Black, Belfast with his 59cm trout
A group of Daddy tyings
A group of Daddy tyings

Upcoming Events…

Pat Magee,  Northern Ireland
Pat Magee, Northern Ireland

 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.

Conor Fitzsimons with his Sheelin trout
Conor Fitzsimons with his Sheelin trout

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.

Jerry Connor, Chicago Sheelin with his 2lb
Jerry Connor, Chicago Sheelin with his 2lb trout

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

Go Fishing…

Measuring up a Sheelin ‘lump’
Measuring up a Sheelin ‘lump’ before releasing it

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
#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.
garda anglers
The Garda Trout and Salmon anglers secretary Philip Donohoe presenting the Garda Ulster Shield to victorious 2019 winner Vinnie O’Connell following his win on Lough Sheelin with a 3lb 5ozs fishing using a Silver Dabbler. Coming in at a close second was Dean Kearns, Kells with a 3lb 2oz trout. 26 anglers took part in this competition.

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…

Jim Sheehan’s Pearly Alexander
Jim Sheehan’s Pearly Alexander

Lough Sheelin Guiding Services
www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com
087 1245927

 Christopher Defillon
evasionpecheirlande@gmail.com
+33685964369
evasionpecheirlande.net
https://m.facebook.com/christopher.defillon?refid=0&fref=seaperch#

Michael Farrell
087 4194156
Telephone: +353 43 6681298
Email: loughsheelinguide@hotmail.com

Grey Duster Guiding
Kenneth O’Keeffe
Tel: 
086 8984172 Email: trout@live.ie

John Mulvany
johnmulvanyfishing@gmail.com
086 2490076

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

Michael Flanagan,
Trout and Pike Guide.
Email: mick@midlandangling.com Web: www.midlandangling.com

Jim Sheehan’s Green George
Jim Sheehan’s Green George

Lifejackets

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.

‘The Future’
‘The Future’