‘We fish for hours to hold a trout for seconds’


Now, on the cusp of autumn it was a difficult week to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat as far as any kind of decent angling returns were concerned.  After struggling to straighten up after storm Ellen, along came Storm Francis bring with it unattractive piscatorial obstacles of heavy downpours and strong southerly winds, churning up and raising Lough Sheelin’s water levels.  This rain will however get things back on track by reducing summer temperatures and pushing anglers abruptly into the last leg of the fishing season here.  As the dry fly anglers pack up their bags, early autumn tends to be a good time to fish for the wet fly brigade and with September round the corner this week’s catches were all about fishing wets, with the old favourites of Black Pennell, Golden Olive Bumble and Dabblers featuring heavily.  Although there are still a smattering of sedge hatches as well as the appearance of some late olives, the fly life here is dwindling and so wet fly fishing is really the only way to go from here to the end of season with a concession of perhaps a dry sedge pattern or a Daddy if the weather behaves itself.  Wet fly fishing, although sometimes dismissed by the purist dry fly anglers, is an effective style and produces some nice catches – heaviest this week at a respectable 4lbs.

Small matters
Small matters

For a ‘whenever I have the time angler’ it is hard not to love the wet flies because of how forgiving a fishing method it is – casting out as far as possible without the fear of an ugly presentation, easier to control the line, easier to hook a fish (the line is all the time in tension), effective when the trout are feeding in the water film or just under it and the trout doesn’t seem to be as sensitive to fly size so a big fly can be used without a problem.  Basically this method takes out the pernicketiness and exactness necessary for its counterparts.

It's Daddy time
It’s Daddy time

Late summer and early autumn are synonymous to Daddy Long legs time.  Morning, afternoon and evening the ubiquitous Crane Fly can be seen on the water and fishing a Daddy can bring with it some good results – foam bodied Daddies are the most durable flies when the takes are splashy.   Hoppers can work wonderfully around this time of the season too with Claret and Black being particularly good depending on cloud conditions, but even on a bright day the Claret Hopper provides all the silhouette trigger factors that the feeding trout need.

Bibio patterns - good for fishing around Bog Bay
Bibio patterns – good for fishing around Bog Bay

Above any other time in the fishing calendar, now is ‘terrestrial time’, those accidentals that are non aquatic and have the misfortune of being blown on to the lake providing an irresistible packed lunch to a cruising trout.  Lough Sheelin has its own mixture of land based casualties – daddies, beetles, heather flies, wasps, ants etc. Terrestrials can’t be classed as fishing flies, they are land dwelling insects such as beetles that have unfortunately ended up stranded in the water, but never the less they have the ability to outperform even the greatest trout flies in the correct conditions! Think gusts of wind and you can realise how much extra food terrestrials can supplement for trout.

The Whirligigs (photograph in report) found in pockets in the sheltered areas of Sheelin, are not trout food because of their speed but are definitely worth while making a small diversion on if not for fishing but for the wonderful example of the adaptions that evolution produces.  These are small, dark beetles that gather in clusters on the water surface and swim around in mad circles.  They are predators and swimming in circles is a way of locating prey. They catch things on the surface and below it so they have two pairs of eyes, one for seeing in water and one for seeing in air.  The purpose of the whirling is to create ripples.  If something like a midge lands on the water surface it alters the pattern of the ripples, the beetle senses this instantly and uses it to locate the prey.  Whirligigs are sensitive in that once disturbed they will disappear under the water.  Like all beetles, they have no gills and have to breathe air.  They manage this by grabbing a bubble of air in an organ at the tip of the abdomen and using it like a scuba diver’s tank.  They can stay under water for a remarkably long time and when they are not whirling, this is where they hunt.  But eventually they have to make a rapid trip to the surface to grab another bubble.  These amazing little beetles are just one example of the diversity of Lough Sheelin.

Getting back to trout fishing – going through the week:

Heavy rainfall effectively cancelled out Tuesday and Thursday of this week and although not drawing a blank angling numbers were down to single figures. After a misty start Monday settled into some light southerly winds changing to an easterly direction as the day moved on.  Muddlers and some fry patterns brought in fish of up to 3lbs but it was reportedly a ‘hard slog’.

Heavy rainfall reduced Tuesday’s fishing appeal, nonetheless a number of trout up to 2 ¾ lbs were caught using Black Pennels, Golden Olives and Stimulators.  Temperatures remained around 18 – 19 degrees on Wednesday with moderate westerly winds, after the previous days rain the water was discoloured, brightly coloured flies had some success and some nice trout of 2 – 3 lbs were caught on Silver Dabblers and Golden Olive Bumbles.  Thursday was another wet day but still the weight of the week, a lovely 4lb was landed on this date.  Temperatures dropped a few degrees on Friday with northerly winds, it was a day of blanks and early finishes.  The weekend featured the first real chills of autumn coupled with north easterly winds.  Anglers reported good movement of fish particularly around Merry pt. but catches were poor.

27 trout were recorded for the week.  The majority of the catches were at noon and into the lake afternoon.

The weight of the week was a beautiful 4lb trout caught on a Black Pennell by Navan angler William Smyth.

The most popular flies were the Red Tailed Peters, Golden Olives Bumbles, the Dabblers (Silver, Sooty and Peter Ross), the Grey Flags, the Stimulators (Grey, Claret and Bling), the Black Pennells and the Black & Peacock Spiders.  Some lures were used on sinking lines – di3 and 5.

The Green George, Claret George and Detached Daddy were good, these are great teaser flies and were excellent as top droppers. The Muddlers worked well on the lake, these flies push through the water creating a bubble which attracts the feeding trout.  Other ‘pusher flies’ used to create a disturbance and used again on the top dropper were the Bibios, Zulus and Sedgehogs.  Something sleeker and more imitative on the middle like the Claret & Mallard, Silver Invicta and Wickham’s Fancy and then a flashy attractor on the point like a Dunkeld, Peter Ross or Alexandra.  The Bibio is a very versatile fly as it can work both as a top dropper attractor and a tweaked dry, when greased.

When fishing small dry sedges along sheltered areas it is best to use a floating line with a 4 – 6 lb. leader.

Gaudy patterns were good for those targeting the Daphnia feeders out in the open water.

Lures that were successful were Black & Silver Minkies and a black Humungus.

The best areas for fishing on the lake this week were Lynch’s pt. (good for Murrough), Chambers Bay, the middle of the lake, Ross Bay round to Derrahorn.

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

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

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

John Mulvany
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


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.

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.

Sedge and Buzzer time
Sedge and Buzzer time