Lough Sheelin Angling Report, March 1st ~ March 8th 2020

 ‘The waters are nature’s storehouse in which she locks up her wonders’
Izaak Walton

On Sunday last, March 1st, Lough Sheelin opened its waters on to a brand new fishing season.  Water levels were and still are high, prompting that well coined line from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ – Water, water everywhere nor any drop to drink.

Heavy and persistent rain ensured that piers, shorelines and mooring stations were under water by the time the season kicked off, posing difficulties for anglers returning their boats preseason.  Boats that had been left over winter were submerged either totally or partially, their bows poking up out of the water resembling some sort of nautical graveyard.  The water levels receded somewhat this week due to the dry days but with more rain forecast the return to normal could be a long drawn out procedure.

High water and submerged boats

Those anglers who live and breathe Lough Sheelin advise me that unless levels are down to summer level on this lake by April then we could be in for a late mayfly season.

It was a cold, bright and breezy start to the fishing season here with brisk westerly winds scudding across the water.  Undeterred by flood water and chilly temperatures a steady number of anglers fished this lake throughout the week with some good catches of trout being recorded.  These trout were beautifully marked with those defining spots on an iridescent body, qualities of a true brown trout.  Some days ago two anglers were studying a photograph of a trout caught in another midlands lake and a heated argument blew up as to whether the trout was a sea, rainbow or brown, so bland were its markings; with total confidence it can be guaranteed that no such dispute would ever arise with a trout caught on Sheelin.

‘Measuring up’ before release

Few things about a trout season beat the anticipation that precedes it, but March is a strange time of the year for the purist fly angler.  It seems to be neither winter nor spring, a transient time where fish are glued to the bottom regions of the lake with no fly to lure them upwards to surface feed. With the absence of surface fly life the trout forage in the lower regions, scooping up the bottom-feeding organisms such as chironomid (buzzer) larvae, snails and caddis.   As one angler put it to me ‘sure it’s an anchor fly you have to use at this time of the year’.

It can be a frustrating time too for the angler, who only wants to fish the fly as early season here (i.e. the first two weeks) is all about sinking lines and large lures, and the word lure I find seems to stick in the throat of the regular fly anglers.  Going to the dark side – 95% of the fish caught this week were on the large attractors – the Humungus, Zonkers, Minkies, Snakes and Boobys. These lures are used to attract the fry- feeding trout, as they offer the chance of a large meal without expending too much energy, to a trout that is hungry after the rigors of winter spawning.  The Minkies are more a refined version of the Zonkers but both are made of fur that is soft and wavy, so with each pull, the back of the fly flattens as it is brought forward, and then blooms upwards when it stops causing an enticing pulsing motion.  It’s not just the choice of lure, the retrieve is of paramount importance and this can vary from day to day or even hour to hour.  Retrieves can vary from fast and deep, using a di3 the lure can be stripped back at normal pace, whereas with a heavier line, short fast strips with the odd pause in between works well too.  Pearly bodies and grey mink were popular, but going on the array of colours used I don’t think that the colours are that important.

The Humungus is an excellent lure to use on this lake in early season.  This one is a beefed up version of the Lough Leven classic, the Black & Silver; the colour combination has caught a lot of fish, and add in the long marabou tail and the chain bead eyes as well as body hackle and you have a very versatile and mobile pattern.  A slow figure of eight retrieve will bring results if the fish are in the vicinity.

Anglers who were catching were using di3 and di5 lines and sticking to the shallows, rocky shores and around the lake’s bay, inlets and exposed points and for good reason, because with Lough Sheelin there is a natural post spawning movement that is repeated every year.  The inherent need to gain condition rapidly will drive the trout in search of food.  Shallow water and along shorelines and in around the islands are the areas that are most attractive to our trout in search of food, typically freshwater shrimp and louse.  The best place to target fish is to work the edges of the shallows just at that point where it drops to the deep, also anywhere with stones as this is where the most trout prey hang out.

The lures that worked this week were the Humungus (in black with a thread of silver, gold and rainbow with a bit of red mixed through the black marabou tail), Minkie’s in grey, silver, black and white, black and green Snakes, Boobys and Zonkers.

Last Wednesday in the sheltered bays, and when the sun actually felt warm, there was a dusting of duck fly hatch, and although there was no spotty nose surfacing to feed on them it was an encouraging sign for what is to come.

Lough Sheelin’s duck fly

A few trout were caught on teams of wets, the most popular set- ups included Black Pennels, Connemara Black (size 8), Sooty Olives, Claret Bibios, Golden Olive Bumble and the Glister Ollie.

The Dabblers have always held their own throughout the fishing season on Sheelin, and this first week was no exception as they attracted fish of up to 3.5lbs in weight, the post popular used were the Silver, Pearly, Green  Sooty, Hare’s Ear, Red Hackled and Fiery Brown. A size 6 Claret Dabbler fished as a top dropper using a di3 or di5 can be good for taking early season feeders here.  The Fiery Brown Dabbler is a very versatile fly representing freshwater shrimp in early season, duck fly in Spring, and sedge for the summer.

Best areas for this week were Stony Island, at the back of Church Island, Merry Pt., Inchacup, Bog Bay, Rusheen,Chambers Bay, and from Kilnahard down to Crover.


The Kilroy Cup will be fished on Saturday 21st of March from Kilnahard pier from 11am to 5.0pm.  Prizes will be for the heaviest fish and entry is €20.  This competition has been set at a 16 inch size limit with a 2 fish bag limit.  There will be no permits available for sale on the pier on the morning so please buy your permit online beforehand from shop.fishingireland.info or from the IFI office at Kilnahard on the morning.

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.

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.

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.

The biggest fish for the week weighed in at 7 lb and was caught by Dublin angler Andris Kalnins using a Gold Humungus on a Di5 line

 Total number of trout recorded: 48 

Selection of Catches             

 Dr Brian Lawlor – 1 trout @ 64cm averaging at 6 ½ lbs in Rusheen, March 3rd.

Alan Molloy, Dublin – 1 trout at 3lbs plus, wet fly fishing, March 6th.

Dominic Murray, Dublin – 1 trout, March 6th.

Thomas Lynch, Cavan – 2 trout at 4 ½ and 2lbs, March 6th.

John Mulvaney, Kells – 1 trout at 2½ lbs on wets, March 6th.

Artur Sztejno, Cavan – 5 trout off Crover shore, averaging 2½ lbs, March 4th.

Krystian Nowak, Dublin – 2 trout at 4½ and 6lbs using lures fishing Bog Bay.

Antoni Kowalski, Navan – 3 trout, heaviest at 5lbs fishing Minkies and Snakes, Rusheen, March 7th.

Francisek Mazur, Navan – 2 trout at 5 and 6lbs using Humungus and Snakes, March 5th.

Jakub Dabrowski, Dublin – 1 trout at 5½ lbs fishing mid lake using lures.

Jan Kaminski, Dublin – 2 trout heaviest at 4lbs using Minkies and Humungus (gold).