The mercurial waters of Lough Sheelin

Lough Sheelin Angling Report June 22nd – June 28th 2020

“Night fishing accentuates the atmosphere of a lake.  It is as if, once darkness falls, the character of the pool announces, ‘I am here’ ”

Fennel Hudson

I’m beginning to nurture a quiet dislike for the words ‘tough going’ because although they more than adequately describe how the fishing is on Lough Sheelin at the moment, there is something spirit sapping, discouraging and dismissive about those two little words. Lough Sheelin is so much more than ‘tough going’ and deserves our undivided admiration.

This week consisted of downpours, variable winds and a close clammy heat which was disrupted by a weekend of strong westerlies, cooling temperatures and fairly persistent heavy rain. Water temperatures are still high at 17°C; we would need a drop of at least 3°C for some conducive surface feeding from the fish. Trout are cold-blooded so water temperature plays a critical role in the amount they move, warmth makes fish lethargic and they drop down to the cooler regions and hook on to whatever food that is abundant there that requires as little effort as possible. Fish hold in three areas: top column, middle of the road or near the bottom. While trout feed anywhere, fish holding in the mid-column or just below the surface in the top column are more willing to take the fly. When a trout is hugging the bottom, it can and will feed, but this is also where trout rest and are therefore less active.

After the rain

Brown trout as a rule will eat 80% – 90% of its food sub-surface (nymphs and emergers) but the weather this week has changed this percentage to 99% and it feels as if our trout have headed south to the middle and lower columns and out of sight for the anglers.

It’s not always easy to match the hatch but when there is little or no hatch to match it becomes even harder.

There was a noticeable swing from dry to wet fly fishing and although conditions every day brought with them their own set of challenges nonetheless some lovely catches were recorded.

Grousewing sedge (pale version) drying off

This week kicked off with the weight of the week by Cian Murtagh, a beautiful fish around 5lb caught on a small sedge pattern around Inchicup. Moderate to fresh southerly winds stirred the lake into action and some fish were caught on olive patterns in the wave. Telephone, Red Tailed Peters, Cock Robins, Claret Dabblers and Green Dabblers all moved fish with a Yellow Telephone fly as a top dropper producing the best results.  Temperatures rose to 20°C and there were good hatches of small sedges and large numbers of Silverhorns. There were hatches of mayfly around Crover and some fish rising to them. Pods of trout were feeding at the back of Church Island but these trout were difficult to hook up with. Wet flies, dry sedges and dry mayfly were the patterns that worked best.

A Junefly – last one to leave turn off the lights…

Tuesday was a different day when temperatures dropped and spells of rain and drizzle persisted. There were plenty of small sedges about but the fish showed no interest and there was little or no surfacing. Wednesday started off with a poor fishing prognosis with bucketing rain and cool temperatures but as the day progressed temperatures rose and winds became light and variable. Pat Magee landed himself a fine fish using an Emerging Buzzer pattern as well as a few smaller weights. Thursday and Friday were sultry and mostly overcast with a hot sun breaking through now and then, it was lovely being out on the lake and although there was plenty of fly life activity there wasn’t much sign of any fish.

The weekend weather pulled the plug for most anglers with strong and gusty winds and continuous rain making things grey, bleak and most uninviting.

A number of the ‘caenis’ hunters battled on with early morning starts but there were only one or two windows of opportunity this week and results were hard got. Caenis is such a tricky kind of fishing, first of all you actually have to find a pod of caenis feeding fish, which is a feat in itself and then you have to cast into the area and literally freeze in the hope that your tiny pattern will be in the line of vision of a feeding trout but sometimes even if it is it seems that the trout could still veer off indiscriminately to another natural with no explanation as to what triggered this swerve.

Caenis – a boy and two girls

It is amazing that if the weather behaved itself and did what it was supposed to do i.e. just produce a proper summer, then this lake would respond accordingly by offering some excellent fishing. The trout menu is here in all its abundant glory in the form of a large variety of sedges including the Murroughs also bibios, some hawthorn flies, caenis, alder flies, the terrestrials (Daddys, Beetles, Moths, and wasps), Buzzers, Daphnia, Fry and Damselflies to name just a few. The trout are interested in all stages of the life cycles as well so it’s an understandably confusing and exhausting selection for the angler to have to decide on what imitation to actually go for. Although bad weather puts a halt on some decent fishing, it is only a temporary piscatorial hiccup and as soon as things settle down again Sheelin will start firing on all cylinders again.

Summer sunset on Sheelin

27 trout were recorded for this week, with the heaviest trout at 5lbs being caught by Cian Murtagh on a small dry sedge; trout caught averaged 2½ – 3lbs.

Fish catches this week were caught on a variety of patterns but the attractor patterns worked best. Attractor flies are great for now when it’s horrible weather and there are poor trout rises.  When you are trying to match the hatch, you have to wait before casting to the fish that you’ve spotted but with attractor flies you can cast randomly, a free license to almost cast willy-nilly but hopefully over likely pockets of water that should hold fish. Changing flies more often is advisable when fishing attractor flies until you find the right combination and a good long drag free presentation is just as important as on any cast.

Humpies and Stimulators brought results but other popular patterns were Claret Bumbles, Golden Olive Bumbles, Bibios, Klinkhammers, dry Buzzers (sizes 8-12), Emerging Buzzers, Grey Duster (size 10), Royal Wulffs, Dabblers (Green, Golden Mayfly and International), the Octopus, Welshman’s Button, Chocolate Drop, Muddlers, Daddys, Hoppers, the Telephone Fly, Elk Hair Caddis, the F-Fly, Red Tailed Peters and small dry sedges.

The places that produced catches were down along the Western shore of the lake, Stony Island, at the back of Church Island, Merry Pt., Wilson’s pt, Inchacup, Chambers Bay and from Kilnahard down to Crover, Crane Island, Bog Bay, and Sailors Garden and into Goreport, Lynch’s Pt, Derrysheridan and Derry Pt.

A catch & release policy is actively encouraged on the lake at all times

3lbs 2oz catch and release


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 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.


Lough Sheelin Guiding Services ( 087 1245927

Christopher Defillon 

[email protected] (+33685964369)

Michael Farrell @ 087 4194156Telephone: +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

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.

Fishing at dusk