Lough Sheelin Angling Report  September 21st – October 4th 2020

‘Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be, For my unconquerable soul’

 William Ernest Henley

For the first week of this fortnight, fishing on Lough Sheelin was particularly difficult.  Water clarity, although gradually improving, was still poor particularly along the western shore and the trout correspondingly switched off to mirror the upper water column crises.  As temperatures fell to a frosty -2°C from mid week onwards, the algae dispersed somewhat and the fishing improved and as we hit into the first October week, the trout here appeared to be returning to form and some great catches were reported.

For me, autumn registers as a slow theft of summer and as the light levels increasingly drop and cold steals into our nights, now is the time to seek out those last days of fishing on this lake as the end of season looms on the horizon and a long winter stretches ahead.

Chambers Bay at rest

Occurring on September 22nd, the autumnal equinox sees day and night of equal length but now past this date, obviously night becomes longer than day and we are on the slippery slope to winter. As if to mark this occasion the temperatures dropped dramatically bringing northerly winds, rain and bright harsh sunshine. The levels of the lake have dropped, winds have stirred up the water and being sensitive to their surroundings fish are aware that winter is just around the corner and with hard times ahead these fish will have an edge to their appetite. Heavy fog and swathes of mist were in evidence on most mornings this week to be replaced by daytime cloud and a mixture of light to variable southerly and northerly breezes and for the first time for a very long time I tentatively use the term ‘good’ as trout catches increased and Sheelin temporarily shook itself from its environmental problems to shine once more as one of the best trout fishing lakes in Ireland.

Making it look easy – Ned Clinton with a lovely autumn trout caught on a Rambler, Ned also won the McIntyre/Guider cup with a 4lb 14oz fish

The McIntyre/Guider competition was held on Saturday September 26th, conditions were not conducive to easy fishing with the remnants of a -2°C frost followed by a day of bright sunshine with little or no cloud cover, nonetheless 18 anglers sallied forth with the cup being won by Ned Clinton for the capture of a beautiful 4lb 14oz trout using a Pearly Green Dabbler.

We are heading into the very back end of the season, a matter of days instead of weeks and the fish are feeding up in earnest before the winter rolls in. Trout also spawn here in late autumn and this process leads to an uptick in aggression and therefore also in the likelihood of a trout hitting a fly.

Fishing the fall

Pride, as the preacher says, goeth before the fall (or autumn as we call it) and although there are still opportunities out there to catch a Sheelin heavy weight, be prepared to have your pride dented as the fall is a season of change coupled with the fact that you will be undoubtedly fishing one of the most capricious and moody stretches of trout water in Ireland. Now is not really about the flies and definitely not about matching the hatch as in most cases there is no hatch, these last few days are about luck, the luck of having a fish look up at the precise time that your fly is in the water with that right combination of attractive flash and piscatorial scruffy disturbance. As one avid Sheelin angler put it to me, ‘you go out to fish and you are given what Sheelin wants to give you’. We (thankfully) are not the masters.

Clear release – one that looked up…

46 trout were recorded for the two weeks. Cooler autumn temperatures have brought the water temperature back into a range that is more well-suited to trout, allowing them to feed for longer periods during the day so trout were caught from early morning to early evening.

The weight of the week was a 6½ pounder caught by Northern Ireland angler, Dominic McSweeney using Claret Stimulator fishing out from Church Island.

The Dabblers again featured heavily as the patterns that achieved the biggest number of successes. The trout are always on the hunt for a big easy meal rather than food which involves a big expenditure of energy to catch so fry come up high on the desired menu.  Perch fry have a green body colour with dark vertical stripes and orange tips or fins. A pearly green Dabbler fits this colour code and with the right retrieve pulled in some heavy fish on this fly. Silver, Fiery Brown, Claret, Sooty, Green and Peter Ross also were popular Dabbler concoctions. The Bibio has been a constant over the past two weeks, this bold, no nonsense fly can suggest any number of waterborne or drowning flies and with a dash of red in the make-up, makes it easier for trout to locate even when conditions are rough or visibility poor.

As the autumn draws in we were treated to some hours of warm almost summer conditions and with this heat came buzzer hatches and some hatches of that insect synonymous to autumn – the daddy long legs. As crane flies go, the daddy is probably the most recognizable – with six rather dangly legs, small clear wings and long, slender abdomens, admittedly they are not the most attractive but they can make the trout very very aggressive. It goes without saying that the windier the weather, the better as daddies spend a lot of their time in around grassy banks and fields, and get blown onto the water. Due to their size, much of the time they are forced along the surface, like some sort of insect tumbleweed, creating a very profound appearance. As large as they are, trout hardly hesitate and daddies often disappear in a splashy commotion. Much of the time when fishing daddy patterns, you strike at a take to connect with nothing, due to its size, trout will often try to drown the daddy and take it submerged. Mick Kelly’s Purple Daddy on the point worked well over the past week as did some foam Daddy patterns, fished on a floating line with a hopper in between.

An autumn medley

The most popular flies were the Red Tailed Peters, Golden Olives Bumbles, Pearly Invictas, Silver Invicta, the Stimulators (Grey, Claret and Bling), A Bibio as a top dropper with a Diawl Bach on the point, the Black Pennells, small dry sedges, Klinkhammer, a Cormorant with the striped quill body and hares ear thorax used as a top dropper and fished static or slow, Minkie as a top dropper with two Dabblers, the Clan Chief fished on as a top dropper on a 3 fly set up, using a floating or sinking line.

Some lures were used on sinking lines – DI3 and DI5.

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 over the past two weeks (each day dictated by wind direction) were Lynch’s pt. down to Derrysheridan, a drift out from Stony Island, Goreport, Corru and Church Island.


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 (www.loughsheelinguidingservices.com) 087 1245927

Christopher Defillon 

[email protected] (+33685964369) evasionpecheirlande.net


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.

Chambers Shore, Lough Sheelin (pic. by John Byrne)