Brenda Montgomery, IFI, reports from Lough Sheelin

‘Successful trout fishing isn’t a matter of brute force or even persistence, but something more like infiltration’

John Gierach

Lough Sheelin, July 2020

The calendar says that it is summer but for this week the weather had other ideas as most days were dominated by significant spells of heavy and continuous rainfall.  As our spirits have sunk the lake levels have risen and with all this precipitation there has been a cooling down of the upper water column which is good from a trout fishing point of view. Trying to keep positive with this awful weather, trout do tend to be more active preferring to feed during low lit, cloudy conditions than in bright sunny weather. Remember those hot sunny days in the distant past, well, the down side is that the trout in that sort of weather always seemed somewhat glued to the bottom. Cloudy weather affords trout protection from aerial predators, making them more confident to feed out in the open. Conversely, it is difficult to catch trout when it is sunny because they stick to the bottom where their predators can’t find them. Also during sunny days, the water heats up too which reduces the amount of oxygen in the water and will make the fish more lethargic and less likely to follow a fly. Trout fishing as heavy rain sets in can be some of the most productive times to fish as the rain triggers trout activity. Insects on the banks get washed into the water and can be a very tempting meal for a passing trout. Generally speaking, large foam dry flies like stimulators, beetles, ants, and grasshoppers are your best bet when we are being blessed with lots of rain.

Fishing Lough Sheelin now requires skill, experience, knowledge of this water, acute observation and incredible patience, all of which are difficult balls to juggle in the air all the time.

This is a challenging fishing phase on Lough Sheelin and reminds me of a piece out of a Henry Longfellow’s poem – ‘when she was good, she was very good indeed and when she was bad she was horrid’ so although you could never equate Sheelin with the word horrid, fishing is a little temperamental at the moment but when it does get good again, it will be very good indeed.

There were a respectable number of anglers out fishing most days but catches were lean in comparison to the effort and time being put in.  The returns still however stretched into the double figures with a fine fat 6 pounder caught by Oliver McCormack coming in as the top weight for the week simultaneously giving hope to others that the fish are still out there to be caught.

Oliver McCormack with a lovely fish caught on an International Dabbler at Orangefield on Sunday July 12th

Anglers consistently report that there are plenty of fish on the move with lots of pitching but with little or no interest in the proffered artificial, either wet or dry.  Everyone is blaming the monsoon weather for the lack of takes but the fish are still there and they don’t stop feeding just because the weather is uninviting for us humans.

A cumulonimbus of clouds

It is amazing that always around this time of year the trout make themselves known by beginning to pitch in apparent random out of the water and foolishly I fall into the trap of asking why this happens, with the standard reply being ‘well I’ve asked but they have never told me’. Anyone who spends anytime on a lake has seen fish rocketing out of the water, for no apparent reason and then crash, splash or dash back beneath the surface.  There are a number of theories, the most common one being that they are trying to rid themselves of lice but regardless of the reason there are few things quite as frustrating as casting endlessly, with few if any hook ups, to show for effort, to fish you know are there because you can see them jumping all around the place.

The explanation I like best is the one from angler Dennis Dobson’s in his article on ‘Why Fish Jump’ – ‘I am convinced that Mother Nature sees to it that every organism above a certain point in the food chain is blessed with enough sense of self to enjoy being what they are.  One universal expression of this joy is the exuberance of physical activity.  The whole-body rush as adrenaline and endorphins flood the system.  The invigorating flush of heat and motion.  The stretch and play of supple muscles, the dynamic tension between skin and ligament, bone and tendon as we each discover our physical limits.  The range of emotions your face undergoes as you fight a fish leads us to the same conclusion.  First surprise followed in short order by confusion, concentration, determination and finally pride and joy as you bring the fish to net, all point to the same reason.

Fish jump because they can.  Because it feels good.  It’s that simple.’

A beautiful ‘sedge’ trout

Back to the week that was in it:

The start and the end of the week were the pick of the fishing days.

Monday, July 6th saw pleasant fishing conditions with moderate north westerly’s, dry with hazy sunshine.  There were good numbers of a variety of sedges with scattered numbers throughout the evening offering some good opportunities for dry fly fishing.

Tuesday was a total turnaround with dropping temperatures and heavy and persistent rainfall with south easterly breezes.  The continual rain made things uncomfortable although there were a number of trout caught using teams of wets. Stimulators, Golden Olive Bumbles and the Dabblers (particularly in Silver and in Claret) worked well.  Justin Walsh from Dublin caught a nice 4lb trout on the troll at the back of Church Island using a Silver Dabbler.

Wednesday started off nice with good cloud cover and moderate winds but heavy rain moved in for the early afternoon and stubbornly remained until after dark.

The rest of the week was a mixed bag of light to moderate winds, temperatures around 17 degrees and the ever present rain in the form of light to heavy showers.

Lough Sheelin’s Peter (Agrypnia varia)

The Peter sedge has been appearing in dribs and drabs but Saturday night saw the first big hatch but unfortunately there was little or no response from our fish.  With the right weather i.e. easy winds, nice warm temperatures and no rain Sheelin should produce good bloodworm fishing but so far we are getting very typical Irish summer weather which would be enough to stop this fishing.  The bloodworm is a bit of an enigma at the best of times but bad weather would certainly knock it on the head.  A few mayflies were seen hatching around Crover.

A 3lb 7oz caught on a sedge pattern

Sunday was a good day for the wets with the Dabblers, Humpies, Red Tailed Peters and Hoppers getting the best results.  


‘Moving Off’  


It’s not all about trout – Sheelin’s stone loach




Lough Sheelin shallows, July 6th

27 trout catches were recorded with a 6lb trout caught by Oliver McCormack on an International Dabbler taking the top weight for the week.

Good flies to use at the moment were – the Murrough, small dark olive patterns, dry sedge (12 -14), Booby on the point, Green Peter, a combination of a small Golden Olive on the pt., Green Peter in the middle and a Claret Bumble on the top, Cock Robin, Shipman’s, Bobs Bits, Hoppers, Claret Bumble, Silver Daddy, International Dabbler, Sedge hogs, Klinkhammers, Stimulators, Sedge pupae, Daddies, Zulu, the Grey Duster and a Red Tailed Peter.  For those anglers after the daphnia feeders, head for the open water using a bright orange fly. When fishing small dry sedges along sheltered areas it is best to use a floating line with a 4 – 6 lb. leader.

With trout having an inclination to stay subsurface the top dropper is now the most important fly as this is the one which will bring the fish up so aim to have a good bushy fly in this position that will create plenty of waves to attract our spotty friends.

3lbs 11oz on the Murrough in Rusheen

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.

Resting up in Kilnahard

This week was tinged with sadness, beginning and end, with the deaths of two legendary icons and keen trout anglers –  Italian composer Ennio Morricone (July 6th) and perhaps better known former Republic of Ireland soccer manager Jack Charlton (July 11th).  Italy’s health minister’s comments could be applied to both these great men – ‘adieu maestro and thank you for the emotions you gave us’.

Fishing the edges

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

Catch & 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 centimeters.
  • 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.


‘Into the night’ – Murrough fishing on Sheelin