‘I fish in the hope of holding beauty’
Jeni Kopriva


French guide Christopher Defillon with a dream wild trout
French guide Christopher Defillon with a dream wild trout

The weekending 15th Spetember felt as if autumn had arrived quite suddenly, like a cold slap in the face with temperatures dropping to a chilly 6 degrees and a dawn mist spiralling off Lough Sheelin’s surface waters.  The shortening daylight and gradual changing of colour on riparian foliage all remind us that time is running out on this fishing season and a wave of panic could take over with the thought that summer has left the building.  It is around this time of the year that the trout angling army starts to splinter and with nature’s harbingers already in evidence of another season’s end, the pulse quickens and the yearning to be out on Lough Sheelin’s waters blazes anew.  Despite an impressive 10 pounder being landed by local guide Gary McKiernan with a follow up 8 pounder by Sheelin’s biggest advocate Dublin angler Mick Kelly, fishing on this lake over the past two weeks has been a grueling and somewhat arduous experience.

Lough Sheelin with high water levels and a steady influx of fresh water took no prisoners and tested the mettle of its most experienced anglers producing sporadic but exciting results.

Despite the meteorological challenges ‘the fall’ can be the most exhilarating time on this lake because this is the time of the year when the opportunity to catch that bigger than average trout can become a reality.  This is the time of year when good knowledge of this black mercurial punishing stretch of water can be hugely beneficial because it is around now that the trout will move into certain locations and hold in these areas prior to making the spawning run.  Like an annual piscatorial ritual the trout will gather near their chosen features year on year and so obviously knowing these areas is the key to catching some fairly hefty trout.  The trout have spent the season packing themselves with food in preparation for the spawning run so although they do not stop feeding, food isn’t as big a priority as it was perhaps in early season which explains why the wet fly and reappearance of the lures has definitely the edge over dry fly fishing at this back end of the season. The angler has to work hard at stimulating a response so a well presented fly, presented without spooking (and there are varying degrees of spooking I am told) when a fish is looking up or in the line of vision could achieve a very happy result.

'All that glitters is gold'
‘All that glitters is gold’

Autumn was marked by the rise of the Harvest or Corn moon soon after sunset on Friday the 13th which spread a blanket of bright orange light across the water hampering the after dark anglers with its illuminations.

The Hatches

An autumn Sedge
An autumn Sedge

The ‘Big Wave Junkies’ were kept happy as predominantly south to south westerly winds reached force 5 on some days which made the mid-lake position uncomfortable but produced some very fishable conditions in the more sheltered areas.  There were good hatches of olives around Church island mid-week but the trout didn’t show that much interest although Dara Murtagh landed a few nice fish using dark Olive patterns.  The large number of swallows skimming the surface was proof of the presence of an abundance of potential trout food – sedges, smuts and buzzer hatches were prolific particularly along the western and northern shorelines and also in more sheltered bays and inlets.  The terrestrials, typically associated with the warm days of summer still have at a place here at the trout’s dinner table. It has been proven that adult trout are good at judging the relative calorific value of prey and balancing their energy expenditures with energy inputs.  A size 14 beetle would seem to have a lot more ‘meat’ than a size 14 mayfly, and a big grasshopper must provide more calories than anything except a big minnow or crayfish (ref. Secrets of Fishing Terrestrial Flies – Tom Rosenbauer).

A Reed Beetle - one of Lough Sheelin's autumnal terresterials
A Reed Beetle – one of Lough Sheelin’s autumnal terresterials

The trout are very opportunistic at this time of the year and so will respond to Daddy Long Legs, beetles and all sorts of strange insects (that Sheelin has no shortage of) which have the misfortune of ending up on the water. One of the best things about rain and wind is that the insects from the shoreline bushes get knocked on to the water presenting irresistible pickings that trout seldom ignore.  As long as it’s not pelting down, big foam dry flies can be fished. Fishing Daddies has been particularly productive this autumn, with a number of good sized fish being caught on Daddy and Hopper patterns.  Last Saturday anglers reported seeing numerous surface rises as trout swooped on unfortunate non-aquatic insects.

Bright skies and harsh sunlight cancelled out days for some although all anglers reported good movement of fish with pitching and bow waving.

The Catches

Gary McKiernan with his weight of the week
Gary McKiernan with his weight of the week

The biggest fish over the past two weeks was an impressive 10 lb trout caught by Gary McKiernan on a Green & Silver Dabbler.

Total number of trout recorded: 32

Selection of Catches

  • Mick Kelly, Dublin – 1 trout at 8lbs on a Stimulator.
  • Cian Murtagh, Cavan – September 6th, 1 trout at 2 ½ lbs using a small dry Hopper.
  • Pat McCloskey – 2 trout at 3 ½ and 4 ½ lbs caught using Black and Green Hoppers.
  • Ned Clinton, Cavan – 1 trout at 2 ½ lb using a gold bodied Dabbler.
  • Stuart Topp, Scotland – 4 trout heaviest at 4lbs using Dabblers, Claret Bibios and Hoppers.
  • Rory McAvinney, Galway – 1 trout at 3 ½ lbs.
  • Damien Willis, Meath – 1 trout at 1 ½ lb on a Sedge pattern.
  • Des Elliott,  Dublin – 2 trout at 3 and 1 ½ lbs using Bibios and Daddies, fishing Chambers Bay and Kilnahard.
  • Gene Brady, Cavan – 1 trout at 3lbs on a Silver Dabbler.

The most productive places on the lake (depending on wind direction) seemed to be the North to Eastern areas as well as the middle of the lake and around Church Island.

For those of us who believe that the sun rises and sets only on Lough Sheelin now is the time to grab every opportunity to land a weight of a life time before the close of season on October 12th.

The Flies

Dalehead Muddlers
Dalehead Muddlers

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.  The tried and tested patterns are a must, reaching for new-fangled creations is not the way to go on this lake, the best advice is to stick with the traditional flies but with longer hackles or wings to provide extra movement.  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, 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 Bibio.  The Stimulator is a great attractor or searching pattern which represents many different aspects of the trout’s diet from hatching sedges to fry imitations.  Fiery is good colour for end of season sedge imitations.  It’s ‘bugginess’ makes it a very good attractor fly for prospecting trout when there is no hatch on the water.  The Bibio is very popular on Sheelin, a great fly to pull through the waves on a windy day, fished on a floating line with a long leader.

Daddies are fishing well this autumn on Sheelin
Daddies are fishing well this autumn on Sheelin

The lures are also making their reappearance with the Black & Silver Humungus and the Black Minkie producing some great  results verified by Dublin anglers Olivers Kalnozolinis and Dzordzs Lielvards with six trout over two days ranging in weight between 4 to 7lbs.

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.